“Thoughtful Ramblings” is a feature where we discuss bookish subjects. These posts are just our own thoughts about certain topics that may get us hot under the collar and we need a good rant or just things we want to share with fellow bloggers and readers.
A Few Notes on the Ebook Industry
There’s quite a bit of debate amongst book lovers about eReaders, as to whether they’re a good thing or not. Many loving the feel of paper more than that of a digital screen.
It’s been five months since I’ve purchased mine. And mostly I haven’t regretted my decision at all. The storage and handbag space is worth the money on its own. As we cannot get the Nook in the UK, after much deliberation I chose to go for a Sony rather than the Kindle.
However, in this five months I’ve come to discover there are a few frustrations with being an eReader owner, maybe it’s the device I’ve chosen or maybe it’s because I live in the UK. But I thought I would share them to see if these are problems shared with others.
There’s been a lot of articles recently on the problem of book piracy. It’s not an unusual subject, when mp3 players became popular we saw the same issues in the music industry. There are a small group of people who seem to believe as there is no perceived victim that downloading free music or books is not really theft.
Last month Thomas Emson featured on ‘Where Stories Are Made’ and he discussed the fact that he had to work another job in order to a carry on being an author. It really brought it home to me the fact that unless you’re lucky enough to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, most writers aren’t wealthy.
On her blog Shiloh Walker spoke of the problem of piracy. It’s a very good article and definitely worth a read. But in it she states:
“Now I don’t see me hanging up my writer’s hat any time soon. But… I have ended a series. The deciding factors were money and piracy.”
The idea of my favourite author writing less books or discontinuing a beloved series because of piracy appalls me. Books are one of the most important things in my life, a slightly dramatic statement, but I would rather give up TV, films & chocolate, yes chocolate before I gave up books. Imagine not knowing if Bella chose Edward or Jacob or if Harry could beat Lord Voldemort and I’m sure there are plenty of series’ we’d all be devastated not to know the end of.
So, to get back to the matter at hand: some of the problems I’ve encountered with ereader ownership.
One of my biggest frustrations is how slowly ebooks seem to take to come to market. There have been three new books out from some of my favourite authors lately that I want out to buy: the new Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews, ‘Bullet’ by Laurell K Hamilton & the new edition to Rachel Morgan’s adventures by Kim Harrison. All of these books are available to buy if I don’t mind having a printed copy. But, after hunting around and on one occasion buying the book and then being told I’m not eligible to download it in the UK after, I have been unable to purchase a digital copy.
I have also been on the hunt for one of Diana Gabladon’s books to take on holiday. If you’ve ever read her books you’ll know they’re quite large and after paying for excess baggage last year I have vowed only to take my eReader with me this time round. But, I’ve been unable to find it.
So thinking back to the problem of piracy, just out of curiosity I did a quick google search for ‘free Diana Gabaldon ebooks’ to see what results I’d discover. Inevitably, while I may not be able to purchase a legitimate digital version I can easily download a pirate version for free.
I’d really be interested in a publisher’s feedback on this one, but I really don’t understand if you can purchase a hard, printed copy of a book why it’s not even easier to distribute a digital copy?
Another perplexing thing is the price of ebooks. Let’s take Stephanie Meyer’s latest book ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’ as an example if I bought it from Amazon as a hard back at the moment it would cost me £5.98. Looking across three ebook sites the prices of this were £7.99, £5.98 and £10.74. So, in all but one instance the ebook is more expensive than the printed copy. For the most part this baffles me.
Now, I understand that there are many costs associated with ebooks that would be shared with a normal book. But surely there are no printing, binding & distribution costs to be taken into consideration. So like mp3 downloads, realistically I would expect these to be cheaper?
It occurs to me that maybe I’m being naive and I’ve written this article to incite discussion. So, I’m more than happy to be educated. But it seems that if the industry tackled the problem of ebook availability and price, then perhaps it would help reduce the amount of book piracy? Which is in the interests of book lovers, authors, editors and publishers alike.
This is just my experience in the UK with a Sony eReader. I’ve recently purchased an iPad and this has given me access to Amazon’s kindle app. I’ve not really used it yet, but I have had a look around in the Kindle store. From my very early experience with it, it seems that while the prices look more reasonable than I have seen, availability particularly in the UK still seems a problem.
My plea to any reader thinking of downloading a book illegally would be please don’t do it, or you may contribute to damaging the industry we all love so much. But equally I would say to publishers, let me buy the books I want/need to read at a fair price and at the same time they’re released in print. Thank you.