Friday, April 30, 2010

E-books

I've been reading everything that I can about the future of the book publishing industry, including the article that Monica linked to a few days ago. In case you missed it, this is the url: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_auletta

In it, he talks about the introduction of the Ipad into the Kindle-dominated landscape of E-books and how that might change things. For the first year at least, Apple is willing to sell their books at a higher price than Kindle. They're banking that their customers will pay more in order to have more bells and whistles or simply the convenience of buying through Itunes where they already have an account. Amazon has been selling e-books at a loss for the last two years, in order to get people used to ordering from them.

The internet model is one of free stuff. I read the papers online, free of charge. I can watch TV shows online, with minimal commercials. I can find videos of my favorite bands, music from the seventies. Plenty of people put up free patterns. I can get great writing advice. All for free.

So what happens to the artist in all of this? How does she get paid for her work? Believe me, in the current publishing model, many authors are working for free or next to it. It's very difficult to earn a living wage. Most have other jobs, or teach or lecture to make ends meet. What happens if publishers make even less profit? What does the author get?

One alternative is direct sales. The author will sell her work directly to the consumer, through Itunes or Amazon or some other venue. What do you think? Would you purchase a story or book downloadable directly from the author? How much would you be willing to pay?

Or do you still love the feel of a book in your hand? Do you love it enough to pay a premium for it?

7 comments:

BeadKnitter said...

I love books. I own tons of them. I was even a librarian for 3 years (2 for the county library system, 1 yr for a private school library). I love to curl up with a good book.

Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble to look at their e-book reader, the Nuk. I'm not usually one who gets excited about electronic gadgets. I'm not impressed by Ipads, Ipods, Iphones, or even my husbands Droid. I went kicking and screaming into the cell phone store when my husband decided he'd had enough and forced me to get one. I don't have an mp3 player or even a portable cd player. However, after getting the chance to actually see, feel, and try the Nuk I got so excited I could hardly stand it. It is the coolest thing I've ever seen! Never have I been this gaga over an electronic gadget. If I don't get one for Mothers Day I'm gonna cry.

I'm willing to buy books to read on the Nuk. I've already picked out several should I get the chance. Customers will pay whatever the retailer demands. Especially if the options are limited (price wise).

The vast majority of free e-books available are all past their copyright date and now in public domain anyway.

I think B&N and Amazon are slowly getting people used to e-readers and eventually will charge prices that will be profitable both for the publishers and the authors. It's what's being done in the knitting pattern industry.

A couple years ago I would not have touched purchasing a PDF file of a knitting pattern for all the tea in china. Now I have dozens and dozens of them. If I want it bad enough, I will pay for it.

Just give people time. This is a new technology for book reading. They will adapt. We can't have good books if there are no writers to write them. They'll have to pay you a living wage.

Btw, if a book is exceptionally good, I'll want a physical copy of it on my book shelf. I'm just funny that way.

Terri Thayer said...

Great comments, Beadknitter. I didn't realize knitting patterns were on PDF. Sounds reasonable. I'm glad to hear you'll pay whatever you have to! A lot of these industry analysts think only price matters.

Hope you get your Nook.

Gina said...

My husband and I have talked about e-readers and we're just not interested in making the switch. (At least, not yet!) We both love the feel of books, the turning of pages, the wandering around bookstores looking for books. While I do have pdf knitting patterns like BeadKnitter, I tend to print them out when I need them to be portable.

Maybe one day I'll do the e-books, but for now I love seeing my bookcases filled with old and new friends.

Becky Levine said...

I have stopped saying never. I heard a teacher once say that kids needed to learn the feel of a paper book in their hands, the love of turning real pages, and they shouldn't be doing e-books. My thought was that, HEY, THEY'RE READING. And you'd better be getting your kid a love of books at a younger age than you're going to trust them to take your Kindle to bed for night-time reading, so...they DO get paper. Or board!

Years ago, I thought I wouldn't ever critique/edit online. You know, Terri, where that thought is gone. Today, for me, a book is still something I get AWAY from the computer with, that I get to touch on my shelves. So I probably am not buying e-books in the near future. On the other hand, I am reading out-of-print articles and books online for research, so who knows! :)

Terri Thayer said...

I hate being in the airport and seeing someone on their Kindle - because I can't see what they're reading! Drives me batty.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

Dru said...

I love the feel of holding and turning pages in a book. I have the nook and I still prefer to buy a physical books.

Terri Thayer said...

Dru, As you are the # 1 buyer of books that I know, I'm glad to hear you're still buying. Nothing beats going into a bookstore, although the convenience of downloading has its perks, too.