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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Those evil eBooks

Archive readers will know that I have been a long term supporter of the emerging digital technology and I still am, I do believe eBooks will prove good for the industry and could even spark a renaissance in the popularity of mass market fiction. However comments made to me by a few writer friends have made me think of the potential downfalls of the format - piracy for one thing, although to my mind the problems with book piracy are greatly exaggerated.  The fact that it is inevitable the market will become flooded with self published works and that much of it will be bad so that it will become more difficult for the quality work to show through. And before anyone jumps on me I'm not saying all self published work is sub-standard, far from it but, it is a fact, that much of it is.

So the Archive has an eBook weekend planned with guest posts both for and against the format. We will also look at all the readers available and speculate where the eBook industry will be a year from now. In the meantime though, I throw the question open - Are you for or against eBooks?

Please comment and let's have the debate.

8 comments:

Walker Martin said...

I can see the value of an e-book if you travel alot or will be away from your book collection for a long period. But otherwise, I love the physical book format. To this day despite using computers for reading articles, I still prefer reading books. For instance, I do not enjoy reading fiction online or on an e-book at all.

Also I'm worried about what happens if Barnes & Noble or Amazon go out of business or decide to cease supporting the Nook or Kindle. A war or worldwide virus might play havoc with our electronic gadgets. I'll be supporting the book for the duration.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm generally for them, although I definitely do not want to see printed books go out of style.

ChuckTyrell said...

eBooks are here. I live so far from my major markets that it is almost impossible for me to promote my work in the usual manner, making speeches, doing book signings, going on local radio and TV shows, attending rodeos, etc. If I am ever to become a household name (in western circles) I imagine it will come as the result of online promotion, social media, and eBook availability and pricing. It will be tough. I'm not computer and promotion literate like Gary, but I'm willing to work at it. I'm not prolific like Bob Randisi and Jory Sherman. With the other things I do, I can turn out two and sometimes three novels a year. Still, I look forward to making a big push with eBooks.

Chris said...

I received a Nook as a gift and did kind of a review of it on my blog a couple weeks ago. I can certainly see both sides of the argument, but I don't worry about eBooks being the end of regular books, at least not any time soon. I see them as a worthwhile option in situations where maybe a physical book isn't the most practical option.

Chap O'Keefe said...

It would seem we are tackling two debates here: (1) the effects of the coming revolution on publishing and writers; (2) whether you are for or against the format as a reader.

At this stage, my answer to (1) is I haven't yet taken the plunge and have no experience to draw from. Like everyone else, I've seen the yards (miles?) of comment in numerous blog debates elsewhere. At the moment, as a writer, I would be very selective of an ebook publisher and what I would offer that publisher. (Not a western, for instance, since I still have other established routes for putting these before the public.)

Answering (2) I have to say I've not used an ebook reader and feel no great compulsion to buy one while I can still buy conventional books, new and secondhand, at fair prices, though the costs of international shipping (other than through the no-charge Book Depository) fill me with dismay.

As a writer, I was working on a computer screen, and was more comfortable with that than clunky typewriter methods, long before many (most?) other fiction writers. This was largely because the proprietors in the newspaper industry had seen the benefits of equipping journalists with DEI (direct editorial input) systems that allowed them to eliminate heavily unionized and demanding printing tradesmen.

Today, I greatly prefer writing and editing onscreen. I therefore have no objection to reading the PDF of a whole book onscreen and have often done so when this has been the way the book has been most readily and cheaply available to me in New Zealand.

Buying a gadget that stands in for a printed book would give portability and would probably be easier on my computer-degraded eyesight, but at what stage I'll buy an ebook reader is another matter. The technology is evolving rapidly and several times in my life I've jumped in too soon on such technological developments at a high cost I've later regretted. I also don't know what kind of service and guarantee arrangements would cover me in NZ if I bought, say, a Kindle that proved faulty. The Kobo is marketed by a big bookstore chain here but I don't know whether it would be the best choice on that basis alone.

ARCHAVIST said...

You know I remember when writers were saying word processors would ruin the art of writing by making things too easy. I used to write on a clunky W H Smith's typewriter and I couldn't imagine working in such a way now. Maybe in a few years eBooks will be seen as preferable to paper books because of all the trimmings they can contain. I think extra media will become a big part of eBooks in the future. Enhanced eBooks I think they are calling them at the moment.

ARCHAVIST said...

You know I remember when writers were saying word processors would ruin the art of writing by making things too easy. I used to write on a clunky W H Smith's typewriter and I couldn't imagine working in such a way now. Maybe in a few years eBooks will be seen as preferable to paper books because of all the trimmings they can contain. I think extra media will become a big part of eBooks in the future. Enhanced eBooks I think they are calling them at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Commented via Facebook - Soren Knudsen Hitler deleting books instead of burning them wouldn't have made the headlines so big.
Soren