Where are Ebooks in the Future of Publishing?

I want a Kindle for Christmas. If I don’t get a Kindle for Christmas, I plan on saving a few dollars here and there until I can afford one.

There are to real reasons I want want a Kindle: 1.) I like reading new books and 2.) hardcover books are uncomfortable.

kindle_vs_iphone I often buy my favorite authors in hardcover because I don’t like to wait on a paperback release (that, or I listen on audiobook).  Unfortunately, buying the hardcover books generally becomes more physically uncomfortable to read because of their size.  Ebooks, then, seem to be the best option because the Kindle edition is not only cheaper than a hardcover, it is also much more comfortable to read.

In the past few days, however, I have heard buzz about publishers considering pushing ebook releases between hardcover and paperbacks just to get people to still buy hardcovers.

Personally, I think that completely defeats the purpose of migrating to ebooks. And it kind of irks me.

In all, I’m fine with the occasional book not coming out in ebook for a while.  Stephen King’s Under the Dome did it just to get physical books in consumers’ hands.  An author making a request every now and then, I can respect.

But if every book were to have a two-month delay attached to the digital release? That’s where I draw the line.

ebook computer I just don’t see that as an adequate way to get people to buy the hardcover books.  If anything, I think delaying ebook releases hurts a developing market and drives media-dedicated readers to piracy.  It angers a nascent consumer demographic and makes them

Remember the Napster backlash years ago after people were effectively cut off from their supply?  I do.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sure, they weren’t paying for that music, but once they were told they were not allowed to get it from Napster anymore, they became wary of the established online vendors.

The face of digital music has never been the same, nor will it ever.  And that’s not a good thing.  Digital music as a legitimate industry still struggles because of its rocky start (even as successful as iTunes is), and digital books are in even more dire straits.  The format needs all the help it can get.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating piracy or theft.  I am very much a proponent for fair copyright law, but the RIAA fiasco was a huge detriment to the digital music industry, and I can very easily see ebooks heading into that very same murky area.  Publishers need to be careful.

If they are not, it would be very easy for consumers to “justify” their expensive ebook reader purchase by pirating books to save money instead of having to wait additional time to read a book that has already been released.

It is not as though ebooks are more difficult to produce or, from what I read, provide the publisher with a considerable profit loss.  I presume that pushing ebook release dates behind those of hardcovers is a way to maintain the status quo that has existed within the publishing industry for as long as there has been a publishing industry.

BookIt’s really not that hard for a dedicated reader (or few dedicated readers) to PDF a book and get it online as a torrent within a day or so of the novel’s release.  It happens all the time as it is, and I project the numbers only increasing if desired books are unavailable.

From my experience, most media pirates don’t pirate out of a want to not pay; they pirate from a want of convenience, which is precisely the draw of digital media to begin with.

For me, I don’t think I’d end up pirating novels, though.  I’m too much into wanting to pay my authors their due.  I don’t, however, think I would be forced into buying a hardcover like the publishing industry wants unless it is someone like Stephen King.

There are plenty of books out there that I haven’t read that can keep me company while I wait on the cheaper, more convenient digital release. And a few more weeks/months until I get to comfortably read that new book won’t kill me.

But it might the publishing company’s pocket book.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. About 2-3 weeks ago I decided I really wanted to buy an eReader. I did a lot of research into it all and thought I’d plump for the Sony one over the Kindle. Then, just before I bought it, I fortunately tried to do a test book purchase online… DENIED.

    Yep, turns out us UK citizens cannot buy ebooks from the US (I’ve tried several sites now and even entering fake addresses etc… you need a credit card registered to a US address which they check). So I would be forced to buy books from the UK online shops. The catch? They don’t have any books.

    I spent hours pouring over the UK sites and could not find a *single* ebook I actaully wanted to buy. For instance, searching for Stephen King under eBooks on the Waterstones (the biggest UK book store) returns ZERO results. So they sell devices that have no books available for them. Clever huh?

    This is verging on a rant now but stuff like this really bugs me…
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Arms Or Prot For Leveling? =-.

    1. That’s…stinky, Gordon. I didn’t know that the DRM on ebooks extended to the point where they are regional. Ugh.

      I can imagine it does bug you. Are there UK rights for those books on Amazon or Barnes and Noble? Even though you like the Sony Ereader, you might consider a Kindle or a nook if those stores sell their editions in the UK.

      Still, though. How undeniably silly.

      1. Same story with Barnes and Noble. I checked Amazon but they only sell the books depending on the region you’re from – so the selection I see on Amazon.com is tiny compared to yours. Apparently there are ways to get around it by using fake addresses and buying gift vouchers etc but I dunno if it works. If I ever go on holiday to the US, I’ll buy a Kindle and stock up on gift vouchers 🙂
        .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Arms Or Prot For Leveling? =-.

        1. Be careful of that, Gordon. Amazon is being stupid on this one thing: you can’t use gift certificates to buy digital goods from them, which includes Kindle books.

          I hope they fix this soon.

  2. Good ole nerd-lord Wil Wheaton brought this up a few months ago. I agree, I think it’s crap, but I also think it will all loosen up in the next 10 years. The kicker is that it will only loosen up when the authors start putting more control in how they release books versus leaving it all to the publisher. In the long run it is more work for the author, but it also gives the writer a direct line to their readers and puts more money in everyone’s hands. Readers spend less, and a bigger percentage goes to the author.

  3. I have not tried the Kindle yet. Maybe I should. You seem to like it, and this gives me hope I will like it, too.

    I do not like reading books as PDF on my notebook. I like to read them on the sofa or in bed. And even a small and silent notebook is not good enough for that.

    I recently read a scientific edition of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival. It weighs a lot and it is very cumbersome to work with it, it is a huge book. I wonder if a Kindle edition would not be great for something like that… and here is the first issue: There probably isn’t one. Most literature is, if it is digitized, mostly in English. But well, this is not much of a problem most of the time.

    I wonder if a Kindle can replace a book and still provide me my strange need to “have something in the hand” and to “turn pages”.

    P.S.: While Kindle & co are still a very rare sight in Germany, Audio books are becoming more and more popular. I wonder if both trends cannot be combined. I would like that!

    1. It’s very easy to read. The one Jennifer has borrowed from work is amazing. It’s so light that it’s impossible not to find a comfortable position.

      And Amazon now has a system that if you have a PDF of a document or book, you can send it to them, and they’ll convert it to a Kindle edition for a small cost.

      I don’t know about the turning pages, but it’s certainly tangible enough to satisfy that part of me. The screen actually looks like a paperback page. There’s next to no glare.

      The Kindle also has a text-to-speech feature, which while not great (think slightly better than Stephen Hawking) it’s better than nothing if you need audio. But then again, I use Audible.com and digital audiobooks on my iPhone for that.

  4. This was an interesting post and one that I didn’t expect to be (with all due respect)

    I just can’t see these things taken off. The best thing about a book or magazine is that you can roll it up when your on the beach and not worry about the sand, not worry about charging it up and don’t get glare from the screens.

    If you loose it, it cost you $5 not $100.

    Maybe I’m a fan of the $0.50 newspaper that I read on the tube, and yes I know it will save a stack of trees but I honestly think it will be years and possible a decade before these things take over

    Good post though
    .-= TheInfoPreneur´s last blog ..Ignore the Probloggers =-.

    1. No offense taken. It doesn’t seem like a very interesting subject, I admit.

      I see your concerns, but I think they’re the same as, say, a cell phone. And I shelled out megabucks a few years ago to get an iPhone. Sure, it was a hassle at first to keep it pristine, I soon found that it became habit, and I don’t even think about not dropping my phone anymore. I figure the same will be true of the Kindle.

      I can’t find the link right now, but you’re right. The last projection I found said that ebooks would not have an equal market share as print books until 2018, and it would be years past that until they actually dominated. Industry experts see it happening, but technology, DRM, and readers’ minds need to change a little for that to happen. But heck, ten years ago I had no clue that I wouldn’t even own CDs anymore; now, I just download from iTunes. I can’t honestly remember the last physical bit of music I bought was. I wonder if that will ever be the case with books. Like you said, maybe in a decade, we’ll find out.

      Side note: I’ll never go all ebook. My dream is to have a room with all four walls shelved in books, floor to ceiling where I can write my novels. I’ll at least have enough books for that.

  5. I bought the KindleDX for my father earlier this year as a way that he could get a new book any time he wanted without having to go to the closest bookstore (a good one is 20 miles away) due to him being my mother’s primary caregiver… Needless to say, he loves it. He isn’t annoyed by the limitations in content because their selection is vast enough that there is always something he’s interested in.

    For somebody 81 years old who has never really gotten into computers (he does check his email and can do rudimentary surfing, but isn’t interested enough to become a knowledgeable surfer/searcher) the Kindle does one thing very simply. It puts the books into his hands without any hassles. It does just what he wants it to do, he loves the form factor over a typical book, even a paperback. I think that most of us who are technically savvy almost expect every device we do to do everything, and are then disappointed when they don’t do anything very well. This is my complaint with most cell phones, and the primary reason I’ve gone back to just a simple phone. But usually the most useful devices in our lives are the simplest. The Kindle is one of those. Another simplicity with it is that Dad mostly wants to buy things from Amazon, and doesn’t want to have to deal with much more complication than that. I have it hooked up to my Amazon card and I am thrilled how comfortable he is with it. I especially understand this when I suddenly see three charges come through from Amazon! :->

    Granted, you can probably get a better deal buying a Sony e-Book reader. The Kindle DX is admittedly expensive. When you first turn it on, it gives you a welcome letter that thanks you outright for being an “early adopter” of the technology. That is how things improve and become better and cheaper. Some of us buy them early on which paves the road to the next generation because there is now a market for the thing.

    Like you, I am not a fan of reading books on my laptop. However, what is nice is that Amazon now has their Kindle for PC software, and you can pull copies of the books you’ve bought to your laptop and read from there, too.

    My primary reason for not going for a Kindle myself is because I am a sporadic reader, and have a pretty eclectic book buying pattern. I will go weeks or months without ever reading a book. Thus, the device becomes far overpriced because I do not ever realize the savings from less expensive books. My only desire for the device when I first bought it was because I had read it had the ability to display PDF and sometimes even encrypted PDF. I am attending University of Phoenix and all our books are electronic. I thought it would be perfect, and worth the investment. However, the textbooks will not work with the Kindle. The kicker with this one is that when we download our textbooks, they come from Amazon.

    However, for my father, who is an avid read and has a general enough interest to be the perfect market for the Kindle’s selection, the device is well worth it, because he uses it all the time. My mother passed on two months ago, and I sometimes think that device has saved him from part of the feelings of emptiness that he might have otherwise felt. It certainly was no replacement, but I am so happy that he has a device that has helped bring a little joy in a sad situation.

    It was well worth the $500 I paid for it.

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