E-books versus Paperbacks

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

  1. G.L. Lathian

    G.L. Lathian G.L. Lathian

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I do find what you said interesting and I'd love to discuss it further - someday :D Thanks for taking the time to respond.
     
  2. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    KatG, if you reduce your "walls of text" I will give you a good shake. (Virtually, of course!)

    DO NOT censor yourself because a poster does not like your perfectly legitimate posts. I've learned and am learning a lot from your posts, and would lose if they are chopped short. I imagine many others here feel the same way.
    _____________________________​
    On the generation gaps. Some older people do have trouble with newer tech, and younger ones do find it easier to deal with. But some Really Old Geezers take to it like a duck to water. New tech is becoming easier and more intuitive all the time - good business practice: more customers. I know several grandparents who Facebook with their grandchildren. (WHAT I'D LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS is a favorite topic.)
     
  3. ansuzmannaz

    ansuzmannaz Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Cononomous, I believe KatG's point was (if I am not mistaken, KatG) that although the internet has become more advanced and widely adopted, the cost of web-ready devices and access has increased. That point can be debated, however she is correct in saying that the higher cost of adoption of ebooks versus adoption of print books gives physical publishing an advantage that should be maintained for some time. Ebooks can be as expensive as their brand-new print counterparts, and when less expensive are still more than the same book used or discounted. The biggest barrier, however, is buying the e-reading device in the first place. The least expensive e-readers are $100 a pop, and tablets usually start at three times the price. Depending upon the device you're looking at, you can buy half a dozen to several dozen books for the cost of a single reader. If you're a frugal shopper, or don't have a high-powered tech job in Silicon Valley, you may decide it's just not worth the investment.

    While they're a more indirect factor, the environmental bits you both mention could also have an impact. Anything that effects supply effects monetary cost, and that changes the market. So does politics, when it resonates with ethical or social activism, as green issues do in some circles.
     
  4. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    28
    In two to three years, the bottom-end e-book reader shouldn't cost more than a new hardback novel.
     
  5. ansuzmannaz

    ansuzmannaz Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Edward, that would be nice if that were the case. What are your sources for your estimate?
     
  6. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Take a current low-end Kindle, shrink the chips through a couple of generations of fab improvements, and they'll cost a fraction as much as today's versions.

    However, from what I can find on the web, it seems that the Kindle's e-ink screen makes up about 2/3 of the cost, so ultimately it will depend on how fast that can be reduced. I hadn't realised how expensive the screen was, I'd assumed most of the cost would be in the electronics.

    The could probably throw a cheap LCD on there, but then the battery life will suck.
     
  7. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,417
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    183
    It's okay to say, Kat, stop wandering, can we concentrate on this part over there. :)

    I could be more succinct sometimes. Especially when it comes to e-books where we repeat a lot of issues.

    You can read e-books on your computer or on your phone. (Though there is then the service plan for the phone which adds up over a year.) And the prices of e-books are not that high and going lower as infrastructure is up and running. It's not e-book prices that are the problem. It's overall poverty that is the problem. I have a relative who is a struggling single mom. Her oldest made the junior varsity cheerleading team (which is very gymnastic -- I think they compete.) In our past, the school usually paid for most of the costs associated with that and sports teams and kids going to the model UN, etc. But their budgets are slashed to the bone and they barely afford math teachers now. Now, it's several hundred dollars she has to pay for uniforms and fees in a family that has to worry about paying the electric bill each month. And the laptop is broken (because they are designed to break in a few years now,) and they can't afford to fix it or replace it. That becomes a real problem because, as Cononomous said, North America is more digital. But that doesn't mean that countries are helping their citizens be able to afford digital. My relative has some family resources; a lot of families do not.

    But those families could buy used books and the occasional mmp or hardcover as a gift. Those families used libraries, which used to be open, which bought large amounts of books. Those families could afford to sometimes buy a book because they didn't have to allocate large chunks of their regular income to paying for cellphone service, laptops that have to be replaced every few years, Internet service, just to be able to function and do school work in present day society, (and have politicians then claim that they aren't poor because they have those things.) And often, they hit a point where they can't afford the Internet service and the laptop and then that is going to undercut their ability to earn money as well.

    So publishers often seem like technophobes because they are still so invested in the print market. But while e-books have substituted for some mmp sales, they have not added as many new sales as hoped. And a large chunk of the market can't buy the e-books. Cononomous feels they will eventually be able to do so. But a lot of economic data is not pointing that way. So publishers will sell their usual 20-25%, but the question is, will it be 20-25% of 3/5ths of the population, like it is now, or will be 20-25% of only 1/5th of the population, concentrated on e-books? That would be a very big drop unless you take those lower fifths and find a way to ensure that they have regular Internet access and a way to read and thus sometimes buy e-books. The U.S. economy is recovering very, very slowly. The budgets for schools and libraries are getting worse. Even if you manage access -- and sometimes it can be done cheaply -- access to things on the Web is getting more complicated. So I don't know what is going to happen, and I think predictions based on technology development patterns of the early 1900's and 1950's may be on shaky ground because we're not in the same economic situations. Okay, I'm meandering again. I'll stop.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  8. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    6,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A lot of people can't read on their PC screens, though. Well, I can read forums and everything but I can't read books on it. I'm sure that goes for many other people too. Plus if you're stuck with just reading on your PC, you lose one major thing - portability. You can throw a book in your bag and read it anywhere. Same with an e-reader. Your PC? Not so much.

    Phones? Same again. They're not designed for reading books on, and all but the largest smartphones will be a little bit of a pain to read on at the very least.

    But no, Edward is right. E-readers need to drop much more in price and improve in quality. Wouldn't surprise me if we started to get a colour e-ink in the next few years, either.
     
  9. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,753
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    83
    What I'd like to see done about eReaders in Canada is consistent taxing. Paper books only get federal sales tax and eBooks get both federal and provincial. Why? It irks me to no end.
     
  10. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    6,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Taxing is weird here, too. Most paper books are VAT-exempt (VAT is like a sales tax, if you didn't know), ebooks aren't.
     
  11. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,417
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    183
    Laptops are portable and cheaper than PCs in most places. Tablets are portable. And younger people have less problems reading novels and other documents by smartphone and other mobile handheld devices. That's why there was a huge market in Japan and parts of East Asia for e-books long before Amazon got the Kindle up and running. They are usually several years ahead of us on this sort of stuff. My husband uses his iPad for work for reading text documents and editing them. (In fact, I will not be at all surprised if tablets become a major tool for book editors and copyeditors at publishing houses real soon.) But yes, these sorts of issues do make cuts in the audience, as does the bathtub issue (though they are working on that,) and the permanent storage issue.

    Because books and magazines decades ago worked out a deal with the Canadian government over shipping since they went all over the country, and because they are also fully returnable for a full refund to the publishing companies. But data sales got out of all taxes initially and the government, and others, are trying to make sure that they don't lose out on a tax share of the profit revenue these companies are generating, and there is not a returns issue. Whatever they do on computer hardware and software, they'll try to do with e-books.
     
  12. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Binary EITHOR/OR thinking is silly in most real-world situations. Yet otherwise bright people still do it. Perhaps they are lazy. Or it's an attention disorder. Or a need to focus on only one small part of a larger field - avoiding the bigger picture because they can't handle complexity.

    So we have bright people stoutly say the future holds only electronic publishing, OR only print publishing. That one will obsolesce the other.

    When engineers create new products we can't be lazy that way. We must look at many factors. Biggies are trade-offs, co-products, and hidden costs.

    Or in the case when marketers get hold of a new product: HIDING costs is more accurate. FREE CELL PHONES! (And in fine print: with a 2-your mortgage on your wallet.) Other hidden costs include periodic repairs; our automobiles are a good example.

    CO-PRODUCTS are related to hidden costs. We know when we buy a digital camera that we must also buy memory chips, neck or shoulder straps, a carrying case, other stuff. For some products the co-products are where the real profit is. But at the store looking at the mouth-watering displays of glittering technology most of us only see the camera price tag.

    TRADE-OFFS are perhaps the biggest consideration. An ereader can hold a thousand books, but how to give or lend a single book is still being worked on. An ereader is fragile, but a book can be tossed into the back seat of a car without out worrying it will smash. Or worrying that a crack-head may take a brick to your car window to steal it.

    Every product has advantages and disadvantages. Every benefit has a cost. (It doesn't work the other way around!)

    So don't make yourself into a robot, able only to think either/or, black or white. Be a human. Think the big picture.
     
  13. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,417
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    183
    I don't think it's because people are lazy or a lack of ability to handle complexity. I think it's just habit, and for writers, a fear of doing it wrong and a lot of various bits of advice thrown their way.
     
  14. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    6,264
    Likes Received:
    69
    Trophy Points:
    133
    I read on my iphone. I'm 43 years old. I bought a kindle. Didn't like it. Too big. I thought I wanted a bigger screen, but I realized I liked the idea of everything on one device. I think I like my iphone more than any other e-book device.

    As others have stated though, I don't think all our devices mean the end of books. Recently, my brother's drug habit finally caught up with him and we has landed in jail. Guess what? In the past two weeks, I've bought him over ten of my favorite fantasy and sci-fi paperback books from Amazon (by his request). He says the book trade in jail is huge. It is all hose minimum security guys have left to do (well, and the gym of course).

    I think paper books will be around for some time. But don't take my iphone from me! ;)
     
  15. ansuzmannaz

    ansuzmannaz Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Edward: it would indeed be interesting to see where the screen technologies go in terms of price. I'm not too familiar with the details, but I imagine as time goes on, those will become less expensive, though I don't know what the equivalent of Moore's Law is for touch screens.

    That is true. However, I believe having to use a computer to read a book is a turn off-for most people. I may be wrong, but my own inclinations, the reactions of people I know, and the sentiments expressed earlier in this thread (ten years in the past) indicate, to me, that they are likely widespread. You just can't curl up with a laptop the way you can with an e-reader or a tablet.

    Smartphones also tend to be expensive by themselves. Even if you manage to get the phone itself for free, the talk, text and data will leave you with a $70 a month bill easily. Most companies require a monthly data plan even if you deactivate the data feature on your phone, so free wi-fi isn't much help. I'm not sure what the adoption rate of smartphones is in the U.S., though I suspect it's much smaller than my stomping grounds would leave one to believe. I haven't bought one yet myself due to the complications of buying and owning one, though I do have an old iPod touch I got for my birthday.

    General poverty seems like it would be a factor, as you say. I am not familiar enough with internet connectivity statistics to know if it is the cost or availability of those services which has slowed the adoption of ebooks, but your point about libraries, I think, is spot-on. Ebooks may be getting cheaper, but you can check out physical books for free through lending libraries. Contrast with ebooks, where you have to buy them (unless they're a free indie affair) in order to acquire them. I can definitely see how the presence of libraries would affect the decisions of frugal families.
     
  16. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    1,313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good post, ansuzmannaz. This is the kind of look-at-all-sides of an issue I was posting about a few messages ago.

    Or a book!

    But we must keep this in mind: Every person is different. What is awkward or distasteful for some is convenient and pleasant for others. This is why it's almost impossible to find or craft a one-size-fits-all product. This is why there will long be both ebooks and "pbooks" printed on paper.

    Further, it's worth repeating that each channel of stories to readers often cooperates as well as competes with the others.

    Many examples could cited. For instance, I'll sometimes sample a book on my iPad if I'm at the park or computer if I'm home. Then I'll go to a bookstore to buy a copy - if it's an author and a book I believe I'll re-read many times.

    If the author or series is new to me, and available only in hardback, I'll use my iPad or computer to see if the nearest library has it. Then I'll put a hold request on it, or go to the library which has it.

    Speaking of tablets and computers, as prices go down more people will do what I do - own BOTH. My iPad has a phone link so I'm not tied to the nearest wifi node. So in the middle of the boonies I can uplink to the Web. At home I'll use the computer. The full-sized keyboard is much more convenient for me, rather than the small 93% size of my iPad.

    (I bought the ZAGG case and keyboard you see below. It makes the iPad into a netbook with the size and convenience of a tablet.)

    [​IMG]
     
  17. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,753
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Yeah, but from a consumers point of view, I'm spending the money I'm saving by buying an ebook in taxes. So, in the end, it becomes more of a convenience factor. If I need a new book to read, and it's ten o'clock at night, with an eReader, I can get one within two minutes.
     
  18. Nakai

    Nakai Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello i am writing my first book and i was wanting to know what would be best,i was going to go with E-book but this thread has made me worry.The reason why i was going to go with E-Books was that i am Agoraphobia and i do not think i can handle going to book signing or other things that one must do when you use print.Any ideas or should i just suck it up and go outside or hope it all goes well with E-Books?
     
  19. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,417
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    183
    No, this is just part of the endless debate about whether e-books will wipe out everything else. In any case, e-books is a vital and workable part of the market that the majority of self-pubs now are using. So given your condition, e-books and Net publicity should work better for you. If you wanted to do paper Print On Demand (POD) paperbacks, though, you could probably also do that and not have to go out and promote physically. However, POD is more expensive to manage than e-books, since sites like Amazon will let you e-book market for nearly nothing.
     
  20. Nakai

    Nakai Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thank you Kat.