Ebooks vs Paper Books

First of all, I want to announce that next week shall be ALPACA vs. LANDSQUID guest blogger week.  You’re going to want to stop by.  My guest bloggers are brilliant and extremely funny, and I shall be drawing accompanying pictures.  You have not lived until you have seen a landsquid wearing aviator goggles.

So.  I have a Kindle.  It’s first generation, a group birthday present from my family for my birthday a few years back.  I do like it quite a bit, but I don’t use it a huge amount – mostly when I’m traveling or working out on the cardio machines at the gym.

This drives my husband absolutely batty.  “I don’t think you like it,” he’ll say, sounding personally offended (because he led the charge to buy it for me).

“I do like it,” I reply, “I just like paper books better.”

“Why?” he’ll ask.

Why indeed?  For all intents and purposes, my Kindle should be the greatest thing ever, right?  It can hold hundreds books and fits in my purse.  And it is nice in a lot of cases – I don’t have to worry about space for books when I’m on a long trip (and I can go through a lot of books), I don’t have to worry about keeping the right page open when I’m on the elliptical machine.  I can get new books immediately instead of hunting them down at a bookstore or waiting for them to show up in the mail.  And finally, finally, people can buy me ebooks as presents.

But there’s something about a real book, the feel of the paper, the smell, the sound of turning pages, and I find that despite the convenience of ebooks, I still prefer the real thing.  (Also, your Kindle cannot be on during landing or take-off and I can only read the SkyMall catalog so many times.)

As an author, I actually sell more paper books than ebooks.  Go figure on that – especially as an unestablished writer, it should in theory go the other way, shouldn’t it?  It’s priced competitively – $2.99.  I’ve seen some discussion on the interwebs about ebook price points.  Some people think that new authors should price their books at $.99 to encourage people to try them out.  (Or free, especially if there are other books in the series that people can also purchase.)  On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that they won’t buy an ebook below ~$5 because obviously that author doesn’t value their work and it sets a dangerous precedent.  I have no strong opinion either way and so I sit somewhere in the middle.

Where do you stand on the ebook vs. paper book discussion?  When you purchase ebooks, especially from authors that are new to you, what is the price range you will consider?  How much of a driving point is price?

5 responses to this post.

  1. First off, let me say I’ve been reading e-books on the computer since I first discovered Baen’s free library and webscriptions in 2001 or so. I was always open to the idea of them, especially if it let me try out books for free that I wouldn’t otherwise have read, or buy the text of a hardcover book for a $5 webscription instead.

    Reading on the computer was very location-constrained, though, so if I liked something enough to re-read it, I’d buy the paperback too.

    Ever since getting my Kindle in October, though… Not only have I downloaded lots of free e-books (including my favorites from Baen), and bought lots of new releases from my must-read authors, I’ve been re-buying books that I have in paperback or hardcover, just to have a copy that I can carry around everywhere and have with me any time I feel like re-reading it.

    If I wasn’t so into re-reading books, I don’t think it would be such a big deal for me, but having a veritable library with me everywhere I go has been seriously addictive!

    When I read fiction, the world around me, including the medium via which I’m reading, disappears, so I haven’t missed the feel of actual pages at all.

    Going forward, the only paper books I honestly expect to buy are the kind where I can’t (currently) get the full experience on kindle, like coffee table books where the color pictures are the point, and manga. (Though I’d LOVE to see manga released as official ebooks! I’ve read tons of scanslations on the computer with no problem, and they take up a lot of shelf space!)


    • Manga ebooks would be interesting, actually. I assume you’ve got a newer Kindle, but at least on mine graphics are kind of hard to make out, but that is definitely something I would rather have electronic. They do take up a huge amount of space!


  2. My new book is out recently and my e-sales are higher than the hardcover sales, so far…E-books cost a lot less, and maybe that’s driving the demand. They also pay a lower royalty so it’s a mixed blessing: more readers, less income!



  3. So I’m always giving my ebook-reading friends grief about how they’ll read during the zombie apocalypse once their batteries are dead (speaking of which – ebook reader with built-in solar panel – hello, where are you??). And I too love the tactic sensation of reading a physical, paper book.

    That said, I love the idea of getting books for less than $3. Currently, that limits me to indie presses, but I think that will have to change with the trad publishers eventually. And the concept of a portable library is extremely attractive.

    I don’t have an ereader yet, but I know which one I want and will get it as soon as it is available.


  4. E-books cost a lot less, and maybe that’s driving the demand. They also pay a lower royalty so it’s a mixed blessing: more readers, less income!

    I don’t know where you’re selling, Broadsideblog, but on Amazon you get 70% of the sale price of an ebook (within a certain price range.) I sell my book both for Kindle and as a physical copy, and I made more on the ebook though I was selling it for $2.99 and the physical book for $7.99.


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