E-books versus Paperbacks

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Erebus, May 10, 2001.

  1. Erebus

    Erebus Keeping The Equilibrium

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    2,015
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi, with The Anvil Amulet, book two of my fantasy trilogy, The Erebus Equilibrium, due to be released next month, I was wondering what the Forum members thoughts were on e-book publication and whether you think it's worthwhile having books available in PDF format (or similar) for download or on CD-ROM etc?

    When book one, Reflections (extract and review posted here, BTW), was published last year, it was made available as an e-book first and then a trade softcover edition. In spite of the hype associated with some e-books (ie: Stephen King's The Plant) it seems that most of my readers preferred the good old paperback version.

    I'd be interested to hear what others here may think about this, please.

    Regards,

    Neil www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/
     
  2. LeMort

    LeMort Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2001
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I dislike E-Books for two reasons.

    The first is simply that the experience of reading a book from a display screen is pretty poor. I prefer to hold an actual book in my hands, turn the pages etc. It's difficult to say WHY this is important, but somehow it really is.

    The second reason I dislike E-Books is on the grounds of quality, or the lack-of it. I'm going to make some broad generalisations here, but I believe the point is still valid. Most E-Books are written by amatures who have a shakey (at best!) grasp of grammer, plotting, and dialogue. Basically they're produced by people who lack the skills and ability to be published by regular means. 99.9% of E-Books are self published, use print-on-demand technology, or are published by a variety of on-line publishers who accept absolutely every manuscript they are sent. And 99.9% of THOSE books are cliched, grammatically flawed and generally unreadable.

    Paperbacks - at least the ones you can buy in a regular book store - are preferable because you know you can expect a certain quality of writing, due in part to the quality control procedures that the author has to have gone through to get his/her work published.
     
  3. Hans

    Hans New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2001
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'l have paperbacks and Hardbacks anyday. Nice simple, easier to read, than looking at a scrren in ne place.
     
  4. Erebus

    Erebus Keeping The Equilibrium

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    2,015
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good feedback - thanks for that!

    LeMort, I guess you've never stumbled across a paperback or hardback that fits your opinion of e-books? Over the years, I have read many books from so-called respected publishing houses and yet at times, I couldn't help but think to myself, "why did this ever get published?" Paper and ink doesn't always mean quality, I guess.

    But I agree that some of your concerns about the quality of e-books are founded, especially when referring to Vanity publishers and the like. But I don't think that authors like Stephen King or Frederick Forsyth, to name a couple who have published e-books, could ever be called amateurs!

    However, the dislike of reading on screen does seem to be fairly widespread, and yet it also seems that many people have embraced this new age publishing with gusto. Like everything, it all boils down to personal preference I suppose, but I can see that perhaps my decision to release just a paperback for The Anvil Amulet is a sensible one after all!

    Cheers, Neil

    [This message has been edited by erebus (edited May 10, 2001).]
     
  5. LeMort

    LeMort Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2001
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Glad to have been of help!

    And you're right about the varying quality of "professionally' published books. It does vary, but the ratio of good to bad does seem to be somewhat better than for E-Books.

    Of course, I was making a lot of broad generalisations to get my point across. Undoubtably, there is quality writing is to be found amongst work that has been published through digital publishing means. But, unfortunately, that hasn't really changed many people's poor opinion of such books.

    As for people's dislike for reading on-screen text, I think it boils down to the fact that it isn't as easy to do as simply picking up a book. You've got the computer (or whatever E-Book reader thingy you've chosen) to turn on, the software to load up (and it's interface to contend with - however simple it may be, it's still a barrier that isn't there if you read a conventional book) etc.

    Plus, reading text on a screen is generally harder on the eyes than reading text on a page.
     
  6. Erebus

    Erebus Keeping The Equilibrium

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    2,015
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks again for your responses - anyone else out there have an opinion on this topic, or, does anyone in the Forum actually support the idea of e-books?
     
  7. Bardos

    Bardos Ancient Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2000
    Messages:
    1,387
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't actually support e-books, but I'm not against them either. I think it's about the writer if a book is going to be of quality or not. Just think how much junk is out there, published by serious publishing houses! Publishers publish what sells; not necessarily what is good.
    About reading from the screen: yep, I too don't like that much. But you can always print the text and read it...
     
  8. Lady_Linda

    Lady_Linda New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2001
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I can't imagine myself buying an e-book - reading on the screen isn't really my thing either....

    For publishing, what I would like to get out of getting something published (in a magazine or a novel) is very mouch that I'd like to get a copy of my work that is *real*. (with paper and ink and everything) This might just be me, though... :0)
     
  9. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2000
    Messages:
    10,033
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    171
    e-Books will be successful when the technology is available for CLEAR, VERY READABLE, RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE pocket readers (about the size of a paperback book). Right now, the high quality (i.e. the pixelation and quality of the words on the screen) ones are pretty expensive, $400-600, each.

    Stephen King proved with Riding the Bullet that an e-Book can make money, but as has been said about SK, if he slapped his name on a telephone book, it would become a bestseller.

    They are cheaper, for the publisher, than standard books for a couple of reasons, no production costs on the physical book, no warehousing costs, no shipping costs from the manufacturer-to publisher warehouse-to retailer/buyer.

    They may gain acceptance, but as I said, not until the readers are less expensive, higher quality. Possibly by the time OUR grandchildren are around they may be rather predominant.

    I myself like the "feel" of the book in my hands as I turn the pages, look at the cover art, etc.
     
  10. daigoro

    daigoro I'm the law... Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2001
    Messages:
    1,769
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    138
    I must say that I really didn't like the idea of reading e-books on screen when I first got the opportunity a couple a years ago. My immediate solution was to print the text so that I could read it on paper...

    However, after a while I decided to give it a try and installed Microsoft Reader and Adobe Acrobat Reader on my laptop, and to be honest with you it wasn't all that bad. With this type of software and the way the text is rendered I have found that it isn't much of a problem for the eyes at all. Then again I would suspect it would be something quite different if I didn't have this rather nice laptop that I could bring with me wherever I am [​IMG]

    Another thing to consider is of course the quality of the work as many of you point out. Until recently this has been an "easy" tool for new authors to be published, and therefore I think we have seen both good and bad examples when it comes to quality. When you think of this though you should consider that new authors nowadays really have a hard time being accepted by the major publishing houses regardless of quality (that naturally tend to stick with the authors they already have). Currently it seems like the major publishing houses are moving into the e-book market with full force, in the last couple of months many of them have launched own e-book imprints and is promoting these quite heavily.

    Well, back to the actual reading experience. I definitely think the future of e-books will depend on the successful development of really good e-book readers that will give the reader an almost-like-paper experience.

    Dag

    [This message has been edited by Dag Rambraut (edited May 18, 2001).]
     
  11. Erebus

    Erebus Keeping The Equilibrium

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    2,015
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Again, all good responses and I thank everyone for taking the time to reply. On the subject of good e-book readers, I have just stumbled across what I believe is an excellent example of such, called yBook.

    It has been authored right here in Western Australia, (where I'm from, BTW), is free, of course, and more like a paperback emulator than it is an on-screen reader. In fact, its creator names it as such! It can read .txt files, which is perfect for the Guttenburg e-books, and HTML, as well as its own files which can be generated in its sister program, yBook Maker. For anyone who's interested, yBook can be found here:

    www.spacejock.com

    Oh, and Simon's also a Science Fiction author!

    Cheers,

    Neil www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/



    [This message has been edited by erebus (edited May 29, 2001).]
     
  12. wynnyelle

    wynnyelle New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2001
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i have often searched for good amateur material on the internet for free, and to date I've found maybe one really good story. Even that one could have used a grammar sweep-up and a little instruction on how to use the "thou" caste CORRECTLY, but the story, novella-length, had a *lot* of impact, more than I've felt from many 'real' books. Unfortunately the site has recently gone down. I hold it in my memory.

    Personally I would never pay for an e-story. It's unproven, inconvenient, etc. If I find it free, great, but I prefer to go to a big bookstore and browse, flip the pages, buy it and walk out of the store with a real book. Staring at a computer screen just isn't the same. I need the material experience. Plus you can't take it everywhere with you like you can with a book.
     
  13. Spacejock

    Spacejock SF Author

    Joined:
    May 29, 2001
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    "Personally I would never pay for an e-story. It's unproven, inconvenient, etc."

    I've bought a couple of ebooks so far, and have been very happy with the quality. (One is a re-release of a book which first came out in a print version, the other is the first book in Neil's series.)

    I know it's great to take a book out with you, but I spend so much time reading web pages I have no trouble with an on-screen novel. (I wrote yBook, by the way. It's my attempt at making your screen look like an open book.)

    I took the decision to release my own novel as an ebook, with a print version to follow. I think yBook does it justice, too.

    Cheers
    Simon Haynes http://www.spacejock.com
     
  14. NicoleDreadful

    NicoleDreadful learning as fast as I can

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2012
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ten years later, I'm finding it pretty interesting to review this discussion.

    Some comments were quite prescient....
    And some less so....

    ...where will our technology be in another decade?
    (and who will even remember what a CD-ROM was?)
     
  15. G.L. Lathian

    G.L. Lathian G.L. Lathian

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great find. Loved reading this thread.

    It's insane to see how far the e-book industry has come in just over ten years. It'll be crazy to see where it is in another ten.
     
  16. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A Writers Reaction

    Most of those reactions were personal preferences. Reactions from us as READERS.

    Understandable, since they were posted 10 years ago. But I'd guess that if posted today the responses would be pretty much the same.

    But it's 2012 as I write this. Electronic publishing is much more mature, and a good chunk of readers routinely read ebooks and eshorts and emagazines - and pay for them. Self-publishing is maturing and becoming easier, and print publishers are working hard to adjust to the changes. They are also trying to be ready for those next 10 years of change.

    I more interested in your reactions if you are seriously thinking of being a WRITER? Or have become one? Spending a good chunk of every week creating stories, sending out stories or queries to agents and publishers, managing your career? Taking baby steps, or giant steps?

    My perspective? All channels to my prospective readers are good, self-published or more traditionally published, electronic or print. Each channel has pluses and minuses. Things to watch out for, things to be grateful for.

    So far I've personally experienced only the pluses and minuses of self-publishing of four ebooks and their print-on-demand versions. I am prepping #5 this week to go live, and well into writing #6. When all are available I'll switch to the traditional route (about January 2013, I believe).

    Any serious writers in this thread? What're your reactions?
     
  17. sullivan_riyria

    sullivan_riyria Creator of Worlds

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,007
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    73
    Let me throw up a prediction that I have on this subject.

    Within 5 years (probably more like 3) the "low end" format for books that has been served by mass market paperbacks will be ebooks and mass market paperbacks will cease to exist.

    The publishing landscape will be something like this:

    • Big sellers - Hardcover followed a year later by a trade paperback release
    • Mid list - trade paperback release
    • New authors - ebook only releases - if they sell well then a future book might move them up to the Mid-list.
     
  18. chinookpilot77

    chinookpilot77 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    I do not agree with your prediction, but only because of what history has shown us with other media.

    The newspaper? Radio didn't put it out of business as predicted.
    The Magazine? Still going strong. E-zines?
    The Book? I see the hard cover going away before mass market.

    The only things I see that digital media has truly been the death nail of has been newsletters and junk mail...even publishers clearinghouse went digital!

    People, myself included, simple dont like reading PDF files on a computer screen. Other people, myself excluded, who have been sitting in an office staring at a computer (and thats a huge amount these days) aren't warm to the idea of spending even more time sitting around and staring at a computer.

    For my part, while I respect your opinion on the matter, I hope very much that you are wrong.
     
  19. G.L. Lathian

    G.L. Lathian G.L. Lathian

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't agree.

    If we look at schools, at least in Australia, iPads and the like are being introduced to children from the age of 6 - year/grade one to learn from. Why: there is no carrying around a bag full of books, information is at your fingertips, you can have a thousand books or more loaded onto the device and they can interact with the information.

    Gone are the days of thinking people don't like reading off screens. Look at phones, tablets, more compact computers, Kindles, wireless Internet...

    You might not like reading off a screen, but the next generation of kids, including the current ones don't have a qualm doing it. My sister, who's only sixteen doesn't read paperback novels. She reads from her iPad because she can delve into an imaginary world for ten minutes and then check her Facebook (sad I know) and this is what all of her friends are doing.

    This thread and some of it's original posters proved that the whole 'read from a screen' thing is not the case. Tablets/computers/the internet/books have become cheaper over time and that trend will continue as the technology becomes less expensive to produce.

    I feel like this trend is set to continue, which is why I'm choosing to self publish my own novels rather than wait for an acceptance. Print books/newspapers/magazines are on the decline - take a look at the statistics.

    Hardbacks are continuing to sell well because of people like you who want the true 'reading' experience, once again, check the statistics. Technology is a wave, sweeping traditional methods of thinking into an abyss of unknown proportion.

    I foresee in the near future, publishing information via paper will find itself extinct. Why do something that costs money when people can access the information the same way for an almost zilch production cost. Times are changing and the only paper novels that might survive (IMO) are the hardbacks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
  20. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    6,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't think MMPB books will cease to exist any time soon, certainly not within the next 3-5 years. Hardcovers are still around despite MMPBs and TPBs (and eBooks), so to think one of the biggest-selling formats will die within five years is, um, highly unlikely.

    What I think will happen is we'll reach a sort of balance for the time being. This has happened with all other competing physical and digital media - music, video, gaming - and it'll be years before we see one replace the other - and I mean *years*.