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May 10th, 2001, 02:22 AM
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.


Neil www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/ (http://www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/)

May 10th, 2001, 06:23 AM
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.

May 10th, 2001, 12:03 PM
I'l have paperbacks and Hardbacks anyday. Nice simple, easier to read, than looking at a scrren in ne place.

May 10th, 2001, 04:02 PM
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).]

May 11th, 2001, 12:41 AM
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.

May 12th, 2001, 04:18 AM
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?

May 12th, 2001, 04:56 AM
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...

May 18th, 2001, 08:35 AM
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)

Rob B
May 18th, 2001, 09:04 AM
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.

May 18th, 2001, 09:05 AM
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 http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

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.


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