Monday, October 11, 2010

The Brave New "E-Book" World

Electronic Books? E-books. Have they arrived? I think so.

It wasn't that long ago that electronic mail was new and strange - a novelty instead of a daily communication tool. Not anymore. I don't remember the last time I wrote a personal letter. A note maybe to go along with a package. But a letter? Like it or not e-mail is the way of the world now. Just as I think e-books will be in less than five years. The number of e-books on the market is exploding. The number of e-readers (the devices and the people) is increasing every day. Publishing contracts today include electronic rights along with foreign and domestic print rights. Yep, e-books are here to stay...in one form or another. (Hey, I'm old enough to have lived through 8-tracks, cassette tapes, cds, and digital downloads for i-Pods - so I know nothing is forever!)

But not to be left behind on the e-book super highway, my co-author and I have recently published a short story collection - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries and a single short story - Riley Come Home at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It was quite a learning experience. And we are still trying to figure out some of the formatting tweaks. My co-author says that learning how to do a clickable "Table of Contents" has become a point of pride with me - not something that we absolutely have to include in our e-books. She's right (she's right a lot of the time but let's keep that fact just between us). I admit that I have developed an obsession with figuring it out. (Yes, I know there are people out there making a living whom I could pay to do it for me - but what's the fun in that?) I will conqueror the problem as I do most things - through time, trial, whining, and error. Lot's of whining and error.

On the bright side, did you know that on-line bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders have their own software applications that can be downloaded free to your e-reader and/or your PC (desktop or laptop)? You visit their site, search for e-book software applications (if you don't see an ad for one staring right at you when you arrive on site) and click on the download button. It loads itself and all you need to do is set up an account (if you don't already have one there for all those print books you've been buying for years) and start buying e-books. You can be reading in seconds on your computer without actually purchasing a Kindle (although the current price of $139 is becoming very tempting) or a Nook (Barnes & Noble's popular e-reader). You can also buy e-books for the Apple i-Pad from the on-line Apple store. Tony Burton, publisher extraordinare, has an on-line store, The Digital Bookshop. You can find lots of great e-books and print books there (including Evelyn David's Sullivan Investigations mystery series).

And here's another surprise - there are free e-books to be had. Free! Amazon and Barnes & Noble have free e-books offerings. All you have to do is download them.

Now be warned, my co-author and I aren't giving away our books. (Are you kidding after all that blood, sweat, and whining?) But if you're counting your pennies, buying e-books can save you money. Our short story collection, I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries is priced at $2.99. Riley Come Home is a mere 99 cents. The Kindle versions of Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake are $5 each at Amazon versus the very reasonable just over $9 price tag for the trade paperback editions.

So here's my question? Have you tried an e-book yet? If not, why not?

Rhonda

(Oh, and if anyone wants to give me some tips about that clickable "Table of Contents" thing, I'd appreciate it.)

16 comments:

  1. Evelyn,

    Have you tried an ebook yet? Great question!

    I was one of those who thought I would always prefer paper books. I downloaded several books on my iPad to prepare for an ebook panel and discovered I PREFER ebooks.

    It may be that the biggest thing holding up the ebook market is that readers haven't tried using an ereader.

    Good luck with your TOC.

    CJ

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  2. Thanks CJ. I noticed over the weekend that Staples is now selling Kindles. Maybe the fact that now readers can actually look at, and hold, the e-reader device before buying will make a difference.

    Rhonda

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  3. I still prefer to hold the printer book and for every 5 books I read, I read an ebook.

    Will the two Sullivan books be available on the nook?

    I do want an iPad though...I like the action of "flipping" the pages.

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  4. I'm about with Dru on the ratio of paper to ebooks I read. But it is my favorite new gadget because it is so easy to carry with me. It's great to know that I will always have books available wherever I am. Yes, I have actual fear of running out of books when I go on vacation - or I did have.
    I think I've found more new writers as well because they're free or low cost as ebooks.

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  5. E-books have been around for a long, long time. Nearly all my books are available as e-books too.
    Because of Kindle and all the other e-readers, e-books are finally coming into their own. Yes, I have a Kindle and love it. Still read paperbooks too.

    Marilyn
    http://fictionforyou.com

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  6. Rhonda,

    If your readers would like to compare ereaders side by side, I will have an iPad, Kindle, and Nook available in the signing room after the ebook panel Friday afternooon at Bouchercon.

    Anyone is welcome to come over and check them out while I'm there.

    CJ

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  7. Thanks CJ. I wish I were going to Bouchercon - I'd be there looking over those e-readers. Maybe the Stiletto Gang can talk you into guest blogging about e-readers and the pros & cons of each for e-book readers.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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  8. Hi Dru,

    I'm trying to find out for you about the Sullivan Investigations mystery series for Nook. I think, but don't "know," that the e-Pub format, available at the Digital Bookshop, will work on Nook. I've put out some smoke signals to Tony Burton, our publisher for the series, for some clarification. He's publishing both print and e-book formats for the series. Both books are at the Apple i-Pad store right now, in addition to Amazon and the Digital Bookshop.

    Rhonda - who knows she needs to know more about all of these formats.

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  9. Thanks Janet for commenting. You sound like me - I used to carry about a dozen paperbacks on vacation - one suitcase for clothes, one for books. Maybe Santa will bring me a Kindle.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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  10. Dru,

    This is what I found out about Nook and the different formats that it supports. The information came from Barnes & Noble.

    "For the Nook load these popular formats for eBooks, graphics and audio from your computer or microSD card.

    From Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise & eReader:
    EPUB
    PDB
    PDF
    Other Sources:
    EPUB (Non or Adobe DRM)
    PDB (Non DRM)
    PDF
    Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
    Audio: MP3
    Not Supported: DOC, LIT, TXT, AMZ (Amazon), LRZ/LRX (Sony))

    So the e-pub versions available at Digital Bookshop of the Sullivan Investigation mystery series will work on a Nook.

    Thanks Dru for asking the question. Now I'll be prepared the next time someone asks. Grin.

    Rhonda

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  11. I live in Australia and have just had my first e-book, CHASING CAN BE MURDER, published BY Untreed Reads. Of course, now I need to buy an e-reader:) I was interested in a Kindle but heard you can only buy books from Amazon, some of which aren't available outside the U.S. Anyone know anything about this?

    June

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  12. I'm have a feeling that print/real/regular books may be a bit more long lasting--that they can live alongside e readers, which certainly have their place for many. But I'm happy for the authors who are finding this technology opens new outlets and avenues for their work.

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  13. Hi June,

    Kindle is Amazon's baby. So yes, I think you can only download books directly from Amazon's store to your Kindle. But it also seems that you can download books and files to your computer and then transfer them to your Kindle - books and files that didn't come from Amazon.

    This is from Amazon's site where it goes into detail about the various Kindles -

    "Carry and Read Your Personal Documents -

    Improved, Built-In PDF Reader -
    Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go. With Amazon's Whispernet service, you can send your documents directly to your Kindle and read them anytime, anywhere. Now you can add notes and highlights, use the dictionary look-up, and read password-protected PDFs. You can also magnify PDFs by viewing them in landscape mode, and zoom into any area of a PDF up to 300% and pan to easily view small print and detailed tables and graphics. You also have the option to have your PDF document converted to the Kindle format so that it reflows. Learn More

    Personal Document Service Via Whispernet -
    Kindle makes it easy to take your personal documents with you, eliminating the need to print. Each Kindle has a unique and customizable e-mail address. You can set your unique e-mail address on your Manage Your Kindle page. This allows you and your approved contacts to send Word, PDF documents, and pictures to your Kindle via Whispernet for a small fee—see details.

    Kindle supports wireless delivery of unprotected Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX), PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files. Some complex PDF and DOCX files might not format correctly on your Kindle.

    You can transfer personal documents to your Kindle via USB or using a Wi-Fi connection for free at any time."

    We're talking to CJ West about guest blogging in November about e-readers. Check back!

    Rhonda

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  14. Hi Jenny,

    Long live print books and e-books! I definitely think there is room for both! Thanks for stopping by today.

    Rhonda

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  15. Thanks for the information re Kindle and Amazon,Rhonda. Being a newcomer to e-books I don't find it easy to understand the technical stuff:( Anyway, I'll certainly check back to see what CJ West has to say about e-readers next month. I've also heard there are some e-books, especially new best-sellers that only readers living in the US can buy on their Kindle.

    June

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  16. My first publications were with predominantly e-publishers, so yes, I'm all for e-books. Not that I don't still love print books. I recently took one of my back listed titles and put it up for sale at The Kindle Store, and it's nice to know it will live on.

    Smashwords is another e-publishing site, and it creates your word doc (which is easy to work with) to just about every format know to e-reading. I put a few free reads up there, plus a couple of short stories.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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