Monday, November 29, 2010

All I want for Christmas is . . . an e-reader?

We have a rule at our house. No Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. It’s not that we don’t like Christmas music. It’s just the whole one holiday at a time thing. If you’re going to start playing Christmas music halfway through November, why not have your Turkey dinner before Halloween or shoot off fireworks in June?

Next thing you know, you’ll be buying your wife gifts and taking her out to dinner before Valentines Day. I mean . .  um . . . okay, never mind.

However, now that the dinner has been served—along with numerous follow-up sandwiches, we can discuss the big holiday. With that in mind, I want to to talk about something near to my heart. Something that fills our spirits with joy, reminds us of the real meaning of the holidays, and warms us inside and out.Of course I’m speaking of e-readers.

Without giving away my age, I remember when the big things to get were MP3 players, CD players, cell phones, computers, DVDs, CD players, Sony Walkman (men?), VCRs (both Beta and VHS), eight track players. Yeah, I think that’s far enough back.

Each of these had a perceived and a real impact. Eight track players made it easier to put more music on one tape and access it more quickly. VCRs were going to kill free TV by letting people skip commercials. MP3 players were going to kill record companies. And to some extent all of these did happen. But at the same time none of them completely did.

As I talk to people about e-readers and e-books, I get the impression that this is Christmas/Chanukah/gift-giving holiday of your choice of the e-reader. Lots of people buying, receiving, or hoping for e-readers of one kind or another.  

While I’m convinced e-readers are going to become as commonplace as MP3 players, I’m not completely convinced physical books are going away. Obviously that’s just my opinion. Spend a few minutes browsing the internet and you’ll find plenty of people predicting the demise of everything from bookstores, to publishers and agents, to hardbacks/paperbacks, to libraries.

As an author, I’m excited about e-books. I love the idea of presenting at a conference, school, class, or other event, and having people be able to start reading my latest book before I’m done presenting. I like the idea of people reading about my book on a blog and downloading it within seconds. I like the idea of people buying more books because they cost less. If they like one of my books, they can buy more without paying shipping, tax, or waiting for days. It’s the ultimate impulse buy.

As a reader, I can’t see myself giving up physical books anytime soon. I love physical books. But I also love the idea of carrying lots of books in one little device. I imagine I’ll get an e-reader, but still buy my favorite authors in hardback and paperback. I’ll still prowl used bookstores and visit the library. I think there are enough people like me that bookstores might change, but won’t go away completely.

So my question to you is, are you planning on getting an e-reader in the next 12 months? If so, will you give up buying paper books completely? Do you anticipate buying more books? Will having an e-reader change the way you buy books? Do you think you’ll download many free books by authors you haven’t heard of? Will you choose a $2.99 book over a $12.99 book, or will you focus mainly on authors you already know and love? If you aren’t getting an e-reader, is it a stance against them, the money, not a priority, or something else?

Tell all. I promise it will stay between you, me, and everyone else who reads this blog!


J.N. Future Author said...

I actually don't know. I have seen enough e-book vs. real book to know the pros and cons of both sides. I mean, an e-book will be slim, take with you everywhere (i know, still sounds like a normal book) but it will have a back-light, you can have tons and tons of books on it. Its portable and easily accessible.

but the cons are what I'm worried about. I am more than a bit worried about battery life. reading isn't like listening to music. With my ipod I will listen to about a half hour at most before I turn it off because I am doing something else.

When you read a book, you are usually there for a good couple of hours. I keep wondering about the drain on the battery. How long will an e-book last? at most 5 hours? longer? shorter? I know the earliest ones had a 1.5 hour lifespan (but that was a couple years ago, they are getting better now)

I don't want to be at the climax of a story and have my book lock itself shut and laugh at me.

Also, but this may just be a personal issue, I can't be on a computer for longer than about an hour. otherwise the screen starts bothering my eyes. I keep wondering if this same problem will happen with e-books.

But to be honest, I would LOVE an e-reader!!!! The thought of all those books! Just lined up, waiting to be picked out at a really inexpensive price!!! I could read so many things and still keep a budget!!!!

I think its still on the scales. But I know battery life is getting better and better all the time ^.~ once battery's can last 24 hours, then I will most defiantly get one! but hey, if "Santa" brings one, I'm not complaining!

Juliana said...

I am, apparently, hopelessly old-fashioned. I love books--not just the words, but the physical book itself. They are warm, friendly, comforting. I hand them to my friends and they are a sign that, "Yes, I care about you and want to share something special with you."

They are not about convenience. They are not about trying to eek a few more tasks into your already-overfilled schedule. They are about taking time to let everything else go for a moment to focus inward and be at peace.

Call me old-fashioned, but ... I'm okay with that.

David Glenn said...

I'm just not interested in getting an e-reader. I like reading books from the actual pages.

Dave Cebrowski said...

I love books, the smell, the weight, the tactile sensation, and the way they look on the bookshelves. But I am also technology oriented. I will get an ebook reader, or more likely an iPad (or similar) to read, for research, and to just CONSUME information. I am an info junkie; I consume information like termites consume houses. The faster I can get it, the better.

Will physical books go away? No, but they will become specialty items.

We already have Netflix usurping Blockbuster - streaming video to your PC, phone, and TV.

We have virtual phone systems, and IVRs.

We have Google providing phone service via gmail - and who needs Outlook now and a server now?

We have online document, spreadsheet, powerpoint creation and storage through Google, Open Office, and now Microsoft.

Blogs, and online news sources are crippling the print news industry - so much so that they want a bailout!

So read-up! Enjoy your books, and embrace the new technology

Bethany Mason said...

I think I will get an e-reader one day but as I'm still a student it's a little out of my budget! But I also know that I'll never completely give up paperbacks either. I'm pretty much the same as you in that I love the appeal of both.

Nikki said...

I just had this conversation with my sister this morning. She is getting a Kindle for Christmas. As she goes on and on about which e-reader allows account sharing, and free e-books, I feel my head swimming. I love a book in my hand, but I like the accessiblity that e-books give for new writers. That you could self publish an e-book and sell it for cheap and people would read it, is amazing to me.
I will probably eventually go to an e-reader, but I will hold out at least another year to wrap my head around it all. Not sure if that helped!! LOL!