In about a year, I’ll have a novel published* both in a physical edition and as an ebook. It’s entirely possible–nae, even likely–that the ebook will sell more copies than the physical book. (Always assuming, of course, that we sell any copies, and my fear of that isn’t going to go away entirely someone actually does buy a copy of the book.)

In (tentatively) summer 2013, there’ll be a second book, and whatever the sales ratio was for the first book, for the second book it’ll be even more in favour of the ebook. And if I’m lucky enough to be bringing out book number six or seven or eight in, say, 2025, it’s entirely possible by then that the model will be almost entirely devoted to ebooks, with either no physical edition or an insignificant print run for a niche collectors’ market.

I’ve never read an ebook. I’ve never held an e-reader. I’ve considered getting one for a long time, not least because the testimony of people who own them seems to be overwhelmingly positive–including people who were already avid readers before their e-readers came along. I think I’d want them just for fiction, and perhaps biography–their principle attraction, to me, is that they’d be more comfortable to read in bed. I mainly purchase nonfiction books for reference purposes, and I wouldn’t want to lose the ability to flip through their pages when I look something up.

The main thing that had held me up until now was the lack of a universal format. We’re all familiar with format wars from Blu-Ray/HD-DVD all the way back to VHS/Beta. I’m not interested in falling victim to the same thing.

But now, I feel like my hand is getting forced. If I’m going to be writing for a primary market, I feel it’d surely be a good idea for me to have some actual experience of that market. I’d be sceptical of an author who had never read a printed book, only listened to audio books. Of a playwright who’d never seen a play, only read their scripts.

So I guess I’m soliciting input. Do people prefer the Kindle? The Nook? The Sony Reader? I’m only looking for a tool with which to read; I’m not interested in displacing my smart phone or my iPod. As a Barnes and Noble loyalist, and an Android user, my all-things-being-equal inclination is toward the Nook. But all things aren’t equal: for one thing, I feel confidence that Amazon will still be around in ten years, but I can’t say the same about Barnes and Noble.



*How many times can I link to that post? I think we’re going to find out.

6 Responses to Kindling

  • kb says:

    I don't have any constructive advice, as I'm also not an e-book user. I just wanted to mention how much I love the multiple meanings of your title here.

    E-books might be useful for reference in some circumstances: surely having a word search function could be immensely helpful at times.

  • I says:

    😀 I'm rather proud of it.

    The search function is a good point, but I also like coming upon totally unrelated information when I'm flipping through looking for something, or even just flipping through with no goal, waiting for something to catch my eye.

  • Claire says:

    First off, I've never even heard of beta. I only remember VHS. (I also remember the only reason Mum has a blu-ray player is because Dad bought a copy of Mama Mia on blu-ray for her, thinking it was the music cd. He never exchanged it because that would mean admitting he had mixed it up. Instead, he went out and bought a blu-ray player.)

    Anyway…I've also never even held an e-reader, but from friends' facebook and twitter posts, they prefer the nook because of its ability to share books with friends. I don't know exactly how it works because I've never gotten one.

  • I says:

    You know why you've never heard of beta? Because VHS won.

    And yeah, I think I'm leaning toward the Nook.

  • Kels says:

    The Kindle is far superior if you are a book lover. The ipad, sony etc are fine, but they are designed for more interaction and for those who want colours, and bright flashing images…those without the imagination to lose themselves in a good book.

    The Kindle is the book for the modern world (my personal tag line) and is without a doubt, the best electronic purchase I have ever made. Having purchased mine in December 2010, I now have over 300 books on the Kindle, and another 3000 on the NAS box readily accessible to me.

    It is the book lover's choice, and I love books.

  • I says:

    I think all the arguments you've cited have pretty much decided me. We were playing with the different models at Barnes and Noble this weekend and really had that contrast driven home, between the LCD colour-screen version and the eInk-screen version.

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