Monday, August 3, 2009

P. vs. E.

There's been a lot of talk the past couple weeks about Barnes & Noble now selling ebooks online. Another small victory for small publishers and their authors, who often don't get to see the inside of brick and mortar bookstores. And our topic this week is ebook versus print books, which we prefer and where we see ourselves going in the future.

I think ebooks are cool as hell, and I wish more people knew about and understood them. I still get that blank look from family and friends when I say that most of my stuff is in ebook. Huh? Some of the general public has no idea what an ebook is. The books I have in print are a much more tangible sign of my efforts. People understand those. They don't understand why they can't walk into a bookstore and buy them, but hey. Have you ever noticed how many ebooks, authors and publishers there are online? No one bookstore could sell everything. So, I settle for providing people with the print copies of my work, and that's okay, too.

The advent of e-publishing has allowed a lot more people to get their work out there. Sometimes, I wonder if the quality of writing suffers, but that's not my call. I'm grateful I stumbled across e-Harlequin which opened the door to other epubs for me. It's much more fun to have the ebooks out there than to spend hour after hour soliciting agents and NY publishers with little or no success.

Would I like to walk into the grocery store and see a book I've written on the spinning rack by the checkout counter? Abso-freaking-lutely. Maybe someday. Maybe not. It takes a lot of work and perseverance to succeed in this business, and there are times I'm not sure I have it in me. Then, an idea for a story hits from out of the blue, and off I go again. So, like I said, maybe someday.


  1. I managed to sell 2 copies of my 'e-baby' on CD this past weekend, and would have sold two more, except the customers thought it was an AUDIO book. Depending on who I talk to, some are excited by the thought of an e-book while others are still baffled.

  2. Hi Jenna,

    Great post.

    The bizarre thing is, ebooks have been with us since the 1970s. This means that they're older than CDs and DVD players. And, as you rightly point out, there are still many many people who have no idea what they are.



  3. Jenna,

    Well said. It's a real shame that print publishing houses are struggling to keep their heads afloat right now. E-pub seems to be a little better off, but not by much. The time waiting for print to be either accepted or rejected is a huge thing for many of us.

    Ash, I had no idea e-books had been around for that long. Wow!

    Great post!


  4. Hi Jenna,

    I think that ebooks are a particularly attractive medium for those of us who are writing for the erotic romance genre. It you put my last book in a brick and mortar bookstore the store would feel obliged to put all sort of warnings on it.

    Somehow, I don't picture my target audience walking up to the counter at the local Borders holding a book that said, "Warning: graphic sexual content." Some would, I suppose, but I think that most would be too embarrassed.

    Our society is gradually, grudgingly stumbling forward to sexual enlightenment, but we're nowhere near the point where erotic romance novels are suitable coffee table books.

    In the meantime, ebooks afford our readers a chance to explore the possibilities from the privacy our their beds, baths and, hopefully, beyond.

    Hugs and best wishes,


  5. Given the policies of most chain grocery/retail stores toward the type of material I write, I'm not that worried about showing up on the spinning rack by the check out counter. Wal-Mart censors anything with even a whiff of sexually explicit material or GLBT themes. In such a case, e is the way to go.

    I like being an e-published author. It gives me room to experiment and get away with stuff I couldn't do in print.

  6. Hello Jenna
    Were it not for ebooks, I would be reading far less (and in a rather different genre) than I am currently. I like m/m, it is the only "relationship fiction" I read these days and while most of it is listed as "erotica" at the various sites, it generally falls well within the "heat rating" of a late release romance novel (um, maybe ..).
    Would I buy it at a bookshop? Yes - if it was a bookshop frequented by other Romance Readers ... however, it is unlikely in the extreme that I'll ever be able to do that here, as this is a small country and far enough away from the major publishing routes as to be on the way back again. *g*
    So ebooks are the only real way for me to read what I want (I do order some print books online, but they are also m/m and so not available here).
    As I also love murder-mystery and SF/SFF, my straining book budget can't handle the postage rates (on recent purchases these have more than doubled the cost of the book/s).

    The changing face of publishing is such that I wonder how many of the current in-print-only authors will weather the financial storms ahead - and frankly the "regular" publishing world seems to be releasing less and less of the stories I want to read, so as I mentioned above, my print purchases tend to be from those same ebook publishers/authors.

    The traditional publishing houses, with the "sell by date" imposed on many books, imposing an ephemeral quality of its own to the "hard copy" world, have their allure, for readers and writers alike, but I'd be taking up another leisure time activity if I had to rely on bookshops these days.

    Good luck with the traditional publishing houses and also for continued stories from the e-pubs!
    Cheers :)

  7. Thanks for commenting, everyone! I didn't really think about the anonymity ebooks offer the reading public, but that's a very good point.

    I've had a romantic suspense book on the shelf at a bookstore under "local authors" and it was a nice feeling. But not erotica, LOL. I don't need to kill my mother.

    Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!


  8. Jenna,
    I discovered e-books and felt that someone gave me so much storage space. It has become my favorite way of reading. Now to be able to afford a reader. Lol.

  9. Hi, Jenna,

    I've seen my print books in stores, and yes, it's a bit of a thrill. But as "H" comments above, the apparent durability of a print book is misleading. If it doesn't sell well in its first few months, it will fall into the black hole of the bargain book tables.

    Also, I live overseas and so ebooks book really well for me, as they spare me the hassle and expense of shipping. These days I try to get an ebook copy of everything that I review for ERWA and E-R.

    One more thing. I think that the cost of dedicated eReaders is one of the things that has been holding back the popularity of eBooks. And I expect that to change. It's like cell phones. At first they were expensive and relatively rare. Now they are essential.


  10. I totally agree that the cost of ereaders is holding people back, also the nonconformity. It'd be nice to buy a reader that accepted different formats of books, so we wouldn't have to settle for funky formatting.

    Thanks again for commenting, everyone!



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