Contact Me

Email me
"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kindle Revolutionizes My Bookshelves

It is roughly 2-2 1/2 weeks shy of my one year anniversary of getting my first e-reader, a Kindle. 

Seriously, I think it is the best invention, second only to computers.  In my pre-ereader days, I was able to obtain perhaps 5 books a year for my own personal bookshelves, excluding books borrowed from the library.  This was mainly due to expense, as the typical trade paperback runs an average of $13-17 a pop, and a hardcover book much more than that.

And if you're a working stiff who scrapes by just to make the basic rent, car, electric and grocery bills, spending that kind of money on a book is a luxury, no matter how much you wish otherwise.

The other factor for the low purchase of physical books was space.  There's only so much bookshelf space, and what little space I have is reserved for books I use in my research.

But that was then.

Fast forward to December 17, 2011.  Excluding the four insanely addicting word puzzles I have on my Kindle, I have downloaded 271 books in the last eleven and a half months.

From 5 books a year to 271.

That's phenomenal.  And it simply would not be possible without an e-reader.  Why?

1.  I can obtain books for free.  Yep--the magical price of zero.  Classics, some titles published a couple of years ago, some published this year.  But there's always a lag time for me in reading books, so it doesn't matter to me when they were published.

2.  I can buy books at vastly more affordable prices.  Just this week I downloaded a hugely popular fiction title for UNDER $5.   That would NEVER happen with a paper book.  Ever.

3.  I don't have to be uncomfortable shopping in a crowd of people.  I can shop from the privacy of my own home.

4.  I can shop for books far more quickly with my Kindle.

5.  Just as I organize my physical bookshelves by topic, so too, can I organize my Kindle.  I have folders for Arizona History, Biblical/Christian Living, Civil War, Classics, Business/Marketing, Presidents/Government, and a whole host of other folders with as much variety in content as I desire.

6.  Carrying my Kindle is equivalent to being able to carry my bookcase around with me wherever I go.

7.  I don't have to search for a piece of paper to bookmark.  Kindle does it for me.

These are just some of the benefits to readers.  The way e-readers have benefitted writers is a whole other subject and just as exciting.

Honestly, the only possible drawback to e-readers that I can see is that for some types of non-fiction, e-readers are still not ideal.  By that I mean books that use charts, graphs and other visual graphics are extremely hard to read even when zoomed on an e-reader, unless of course you have eagle eyes, which I don't.

But that's the beauty of it.  I buy most of my books on Kindle, and save my physical bookshelves for non-fiction that I need to buy in paper format.  I have ceased to buy paper copies of fiction altogether.

My Kindle is a magnificent blessing and I'm truly thankful for how it has revolutionized my life and given me more options as a reader.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda--
I would love to have a Kindle too (right now I'm short on funds) But I also wonder, as prices hit rock bottom for e-books (some even for free)what that does to an author's royalties and hope for future re-issues etc. Do you have any info on this you can follow up on?

B.K. Jackson said...

Things will be a little hectic for me over the next few days but I'll post some links this weekend that you can visit to get more info on this topic. But I can offer a few general comments.

The general consensus is that while the digital boom makes publishing feel like a wild roller coaster ride right now, things will even out. On the one hand, you've got those who indie publish, who may make anywhere from 35-70% off their e-book sales. On the other hand, traditional publishers, from what I've seen reported, are only offering a maximum of 25% on their author's ebook sales.

Many authors have taken their backlisted books and begun selling them again as e-books, so there are opportunities there as well.

For myself, I'm not particularly concerned about the availability of free books harming an author's income.

There are tons of books being published, and it's hard to make potential readers aware of your books. One of the ways authors can get their work into the hands of readers and entice them is by occasionally offering free books. Sometimes their publisher may offer one of the author's older titles for free, some indie authors may even post their first book for free in hopes of snagging a readership.

There are certainly those people who will only (or can only) download free books. But most will pay a reasonable price. Now what constitutes a "reasonable price" is what's in flux right now.

Personally, I'm not willing to pay over $10 for an ebook. But some will. In any case, I don't think there's any reason for alarm about rock-bottom prices for e-books. I believe it will all even out.

If you watch the ebook market, you'll also see the prices of ebooks vary according to promotions they have going, so just because a book starts out at a particular price doesn't mean it will stay there.

Bottom line to me is that an author's earnings potential is much less related to the availability of low priced or free books and much more to the contract that is negotiated. Right now, if you go the traditional route, that's generally not going to be more than 25%.

But since contracts and sales figures are closely guarded, I cannot provide statistical comparisons as to whether an author of a traditionally published ebook that sells for 25% of $12 fares better than an indie author who only sells their book for $2.99 but gets 70%. Depends on what their marketing reach is.