Tag Archives: e-readers

Eyes Wide Open

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

mysticink_72dpiLast week on my website, I announced the start of my very first Goodreads Giveaway to celebrate Mystic Ink, now in paperback. I was inspired, in part, by Katy Lee’s giveaway back in December. And because, I realized that while the book has been in paperback since late November, no one knew about it!!

It’s still not too late to enter, the giveaway runs until January 31 (open to US residents only, see Goodreads for all contest rules & details).

It’s interesting to me that Goodreads only allows paper books in their giveaways. I’m not sure if that is because of the inherent concern about DRM issues (digital rights management). All I know is that the reader’s world today is vastly different from the one I grew up in.

As a kid, I got my books from two places: the library and the bookstore. That’s it. The format was paperback or occasionally hardcover depending on the type of book. If someone had told me that, in my lifetime, music, movies, and books would be condensed into a digital format accessible on a single device, I would have said, “Awesome. Sign me up!”

Maybe I would have shown a smidgen of disbelief, but not too much. Hey, my reading (and movie/TV watching) of choice has always been science fiction and fantasy. I was one of the kids who watched Star Trek re-runs every day after school and geeked out over Star Wars.

But, because I’m a sci-fi fan, I also know to ask this question: “What is the evil dark side to having everything digital?”

C’mon. We all know there has to be some tarnish on the silver lined cloud of convenience and easy access. As Rumpelstiltskin always says on Once Upon a Time, “Remember,dearie. There’s always a price!”

Here is what concerns me the most. Eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, if all physical copies of books, music and movies become obsolete, who really controls ownership of that content?

Already, courts are working to decide if customers who buy e-books are only leasing them or do they own them? With a physical book, you can give it away, sell it or keep it forever and pass it to your heirs.

Right now, if you buy a book from Amazon or B&N (or whoever), you are only licensing that content. It doesn’t really belong to you, the reader. And someday, if you don’t even have a physical copy of your digital content, that means you have to go through a gatekeeper to buy it, store it, and use it.

A gatekeeper could be a benevolent corporation or maybe a controlling, not so nice, company (or gack – the government!). Today, cloud storage is free, but will it be tomorrow?

Whoa! This all sounds so Orwellian, doesn’t it?

Now with all that said, I do own e-readers (Nook, Kindle), Kindle Fire,and an iPod Touch, in addition to hundreds of physical copies of books, CDs, DVDs/Blue Ray, etc. IMG_1440And, since I’m a writer, I like knowing that my books ultimately belong to me (and I have the control).

I am not advocating that digital content is bad. I love it. If it weren’t for the computer age, I wouldn’t have spent the last 23 years working from home and watching my sons grow to (almost) young men. And my books would probably still be languishing in some slush pile if it weren’t for small presses.

All I ask, dear Scribesters, is keep your eyes wide open and consider the future possibilities.

Hopefully, I haven’t scared you all away. Anyone else see the evil dark side? Or, conversely, the positives of digital content?

What Is It About Books?

      Hi everyone.  I’m in rural southwestern Maine this week, where access is intermittant, so forgive me if I don’t respond.  But I’ve been thinking about books.  No surprise there.   Who doesn’t?  But this time it’s because I’ve been cleaning out my office and I have a pile of books five deep and thigh high sitting on my hearth and those were just the ones stacked on my floor.  I’m nowhere near ready to empty the four bookshelves in the room.  And that doesn’t count the side table full of books in the living room that I intend to read — sometime. Or the back bedroom — the alleged guest room — that is jammed floor to ceiling with — you guessed it — books.

          Who needs a bed?  We never have guests anyway.

          So what it is about books?   I know I absolutely need all those research books, and the essential mountainous to-be-read pile, and there are the books I know I’ll get to — soon;  nor can I give up my beloved keepers because I’m going to read them again — when I have time; and there are my childhood favorites I love to reread (Nancy Drew anyone?); and the books my English teacher husband read in college and can’t bear to give up.

          All the freebies at conferences that cost more to send home than they would to buy them?  I don’t care.  I have to have them.  A friend of mine said we’re all lemmings – we’d dive off a cliff for a box of books.

          What is it about books?

          And you remember my penchant for buying obscure books? We found a used bookstore in that lovely seacoast town in Maine — you didn’t think I walked out with nothing, did you? (It was Kathleen Norris, perfectly understandable).

          And at the flea market at the fairgrounds — what did I buy? 

          Books.

          Who could resist “The Rajah’s Fortress?” Wouldn’t you snap that right up?  Honestly, who wouldn’t?

          I’m even the Recording Secretary my town’s Friends of the Library because we get first dibs at the book sales.

          It’s not that I don’t get rid of books either.  I’ve sold books, donated books to the Friends’ Library sale (three boxes full just the other day), given books to friends, left books outside and invited people to take them — yet somehow the piles in the house never grow smaller.

          I’m the one who used to tote a suitcase full of books on vacation in case I ran out of things to read and the supermarket/bookstore/pharmacy was closed and I couldn’t  buy a new book because I’d finished all the others. 

          So you’d think e-readers would be my salvation and my heaven.  Hundreds — no, thousands — of books in the palm of my hand at the instant!  Whenever I might want.  Anytime anywhere,  No more suitcase.  No more I’ll-die-if-I-don’t-have-something-to-read frenzy.  

Maybe it’s generational.

However, full disclosure, I did get my husband an e-reader for Christmas and I’m really enjoying watching HIM use it.  (He downloaded War & Peace, which I think takes care of his leisure reading for the next ten years — and the need to download more.) 

          And I AM making an effort too.  In order to cut down the paper chaos and declutter my life,  I decided that if I can check the book I need out of the library, I don’t have to have it in the house. 

          Sane, right?  Sensible.  Grown-up.   

          And if I need that piece of research at ten at night — or two in the morning? … or if I MUST read that book NOW … well, that’s why search engines were invented.  That’s the magic of being able to download any book I want any time I want.  That’s why I should fully love and embrace my husband’s e-reader as fully as I love and embrace him.

          My own last four books are in eBook for heaven’s sake.  You’d think I’d want to buy out the store.

          I  actually think the tipping point might have come today.  As I was standing in line at the post office (did you ever notice how much happens in my local post office?), I watched as a woman ahead of me slipped her e-reader from her purse and began unobtrusively reading, and I felt a sudden pang of jealousy.  I wanted a book to read.  Right then, right there.  And I wanted the unlimited choice, right then, right there.  All of it, magically, in the palm of my hand. 

          And there it was, right before my eyes. 

          But would you believe?  I’m still not quite yet sold …

How about you?  Are you and your Kindle inseparable, or do you love your books like I do?  Are your books spilling on the floor and piled in the closet, or are they neatly contained on a device … I’m still ambivalent …

Thea Devine is the best-selling author of twenty-five steamy historical and contemporary romances.  She is working on the sequel to the Darkest Heart, Beyond the Night, to be released April 2013 from Pocket Star.

Booklovers Buffet and the .99 cent Mega Sale

Last week I talked about FREE e-books, and we covered both the good news and the bad news. You can read here if you missed my take on how freebies have changed the landscape of book selling and author promotion. You can also get the scoop on how Amazon’s algorithms are changing to meet those market trends over at Nina Pierce’s blog that was posted just yesterday. Some folks are a bit nervous about what Amazon has up their sleeve next. The conglomerate seems to be masterfully diabolical about staying one step ahead of the curve.

Changes are happening very quickly in the publishing world and it’s tough to keep up, but I just  try to keep in mind, as I’ve said before, that my journey is all a grand experiment. I try a dash of this, a dollop of that, and hope to find the magical combinations that create the perfect recipe for success.

Sometimes you get lucky and hit the market just right, and other times, you put it all out there and find that you’ve missed the boat. What worked a few months ago will likely not work today. The trick seems to be staying fluid and riding whatever wave you happen to be on until the next one comes along.

To quote one of my favorite Disney sidekicks, Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimmin’”.

I also live by the Marine Corp motto, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome.” I try to do one big promotional event per month and I’m taking opportunities as they come, choosing what I think will be the most effective way for me to move forward and build my readership. I recognize that it’s not just about making money, which means I’m willing to play with pricing to see if it helps with my overall growth and name recognition. 

I’d like to touch on another common cross-promotional tool that has been very successful over the past year or two for indie-pubbed authors—the .99 cent e-book. A year ago, this was the hottest promotional tool out there, and people were making best seller’s lists all over the place in response to those wildly successful sales.
Of course you have to sell a whole lot of books to make any money, but hitting the lists was worth the short term loss for the long term gain of leading readers to your door, especially if you have multiple titles.

 That .99 cent price point doesn’t have quite the same appeal now that there are so many free e-books available and there is a general attitude that cheap e-books may not be of the same quality as higher priced books. On the other hand, readers are having kittens over having to pay 9.99-12.99 for e-books that may, in fact, be more expensive than the print copies. It seems the sweet spot of pricing, according to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, is 2.99-4.99.

Most readers are willing to take a chance on a new author if the book is for free, but if they are going to pay .99 cents, they would rather pay a few extra dollars to buy a quality read from a familiar author who has a few books available and has gained some recognition through a bunch of good reviews or by being on the top 100 list. I’m here to tell you folks that there are many awesome reads on those .99 cent shelves. Sometimes a bargain is just that, a bargain. If you are a reader, keep checking those .99 cent titles and I’ll bet you find some gems!

I am also still a huge advocate of cross-promotion (look for my guest post on the WG2E this Thursday.) I’ve been part of a few of these group promos and the experience is well worth the effort, whether you sell a ton of books or not. I’ve learned a lot about how to work in a large group, I’ve met some wonderfully tech savvy and innovative people, and I’ve found support among like-minded individuals who all have a common goal.

Nothing to sneeze at, I assure you. Best of all, it’s one more way to get great books into the hands of readers for a great price, as D.D. Scott likes to say.

So, beginning this Friday, June 8th, and continuing until June 22nd, a group of over one hundred and fifty authors from the Indie Romance Ink loop will put their books on sale for .99 cents. The Book Lover’s Buffet was first offered as a holiday promotion back in December. I didn’t make a lot of money on the sale, but I did make a best sellers list for the first time, and it gave me the  confidence boost I needed, to know that I could manage this Indie-pub gig.

When the invite came up to do it again, I jumped. It will be interesting to see how a .99 cent promotion goes with the current buzz claiming the wave has come and gone. My feeling is that I have nothing to lose, and that if I can help some other authors sell their books, reach a few new readers, and have some fun along the way, it’s worth another wild ride. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on results.

Bookmark this page so you can check back on Friday when the Book Lovers Buffet Vacation Getaway site goes live and you can browse the list of over 150 indie titles, all for .99 cents. Be sure to enter for your chance to win some great prizes.

How do you think the trends in e-book buying will evolve? Will readers shun .99 Cent e-books in favor of FREE and higher priced books? I’d love to hear your predictions.

 

 

 

 

 

Something Old, Something New

Hey, friends, it’s Thursday again. Suze here.  They say everything old becomes new again. I think they, whoever they are, might just be right.

Have you heard about the new Disney movie, John Carter? Let me tell you a little secret. It’s based on a hundred-year-old story by none other than Edgar Rice Burroughs of Tarzan fame.  The original story is called A Princess of Mars, and is the first of a series. When I heard about this, I just had to check it out on Project Gutenberg. (Click here if you want to read it).

Those of you who’ve been following the Scribes for a while may have heard me mention Project Gutenberg. (Click here to check it out) Thousands of books that are now in the public domain (copyrights expired) are available, free of charge, on the Gutenberg web site. There are books everyone knows, and there are some wonderfully obscure titles. How’s this for a great title? The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar. Most books are in several formats so you can read them on your computer, or load them onto your Nook, Kindle, iPad, or other device.

But let’s face it. The classics can be a little, um dry sometimes. OK, maybe most of the time. But there’s a wonderful solution. Many, many books on Gutenberg are also available as audiobooks, also in various formats. A project called LibriVox has brought together some extremely talented amateurs who will read these classic books to you. (LibriVox has its own site as well. Click here) I just finished listening to a book I studied in college, a Victorian thriller called Lady Audley’s Secret, and let me tell I was astounded by just how good the reading was.

The story was far more vibrant and engaging when read aloud.  Not only that, but as I paid attention to the structure of the story, I realized that my creative mind was working overtime imagining new “what ifs.” What if this story were set in the present? How would I change the ending? What if I made one of the minor characters the heroine? Just from this one not-well-known novel I had a couple dozen ideas that I might be able to use in my current WIP, or in future works.

So today’s Secret Unlocked? If you’re feeling short on inspiration and even shorter on plot and character ideas, why not take a cue from the classics? It’s legal, it’s not as intimidating as you might think, and you just might be surprised at what you come up with.

What was the last classic novel you read? Did you love it or hate it?

Nook-ie Here! Have i(Pad) Kindled Your Interest?

Happy Thursday, all.  Suze here.

At the beginning of this year, I finally jumped on the e-reader bandwagon and bought a Barnes and Noble Nook.

Read Me!
Since I’m kinda cheap (yeah, yeah, I hear you snickering out there — okay, frugal) and not a person who needs the latest, most trendy models of anything, I purchased a refurbished wireless/3G version through Barnes and Noble’s eBay store for a bargain price (here’s a link if you’re interested.).  I didn’t buy the color version since I didn’t plan to read magazines or children’s books.  (The money I saved allowed me to buy a lot more e-books.)

While an e-reader will never completely replace physical books for me, I lurve, lurve, lurve my Nook!  It’s simple to use — just search for the book you want, press a couple of virtual buttons, and your next read is there momentarily — and it takes up almost no space.

Why did I choose the Nook over the Kindle? Easy.  I wanted to be able to use my public library’s downloadable books system, which does not support Amazon/Kindle’s proprietary format.

Are there disadvantages?  Sure.  The Amazon store is unavailable to me.  So, for example, I was unable to purchase a Nook version of brand and marketing maven Jennifer Fusco’s debut book, Market Or Die: Sensible Brand Building Advice for Writers, since that is only available through Amazon.  (Sneak preview: Jennifer will be guest blogging here at the Scribes on September 28!  The second volume of her Market Or Die series will be available on September 27.)  No worries though.  I got around this problem by downloading the Kindle for PC app, buying the e-book, and reading it on my computer.   I also could have read it on my Android phone.

Another disadvantage:  Who knows where Barnes and Noble will be as a company in a few years?  Look what’s happened to Borders — Gone, Baby, Gone!  Anybody who’s been inside a B&N lately can see that something’s afoot.  My local shop has a hugely reduced number of physical books on the shelves, and seems to have morphed into a toy store.   But I figure that since technological gadgets such as e-readers become obsolete so quickly, I’m just not going to worry about it.  Something new will come along to replace it, and somebody will figure out a way to make the books in my virtual library accessible to me.

Eventually, I’ll probably go to a tablet computer such as the iPad, which can serve as an e-reader but can also, with the addition of an adorable little wireless keyboard, take the place of a laptop.  For now, though, I’m happy.

What about you?  Do you have an e-reader?  What kind?  What percentage of your reading time is spent on physical books versus the e-reader?