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message 1: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments I just read this in the NY Times today. I'm kind of curious to know other people's opinions on it.

I'm wondering how these easy to upload books might be a jumping start for new authors, or if publishers will scan the site for talent looking for the next big book. Or if perhaps flooding the market will cause publishers and authors alike to lose money. It's an interesting concept - the digital text.

I mean, I'm all for the Kindle and saving paper and stuff. But there is just something so amazing about the smell of a good bookstore. For me, I tend to be connected to a book that's in my hand more than one on a screen.

Anyway, I posted the link above if anyone wants to read it and discuss.

message 2: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I agree with you that it's an interesting concept. I really can't say what it would mean to an author or publishers, but as a customer of both online and physical copies of books I think it's a great idea.

I love the ability to instantly download a book whenever I want to read it, but I also still have a library book on my nightstand.

I love the idea of a kind of Youtube for writers.
I know the article mentioned some concerns about copyright issues, but what are some other possible concerns with using something like this?

I don't think that flooding the market would necessarily be a concern right now, imo buying books online is really a smaller-niche market. If anything, maybe it would force the market to be more competitive (which=good for customers?). I don't know, though.

message 3: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments I went to the site to check it out. There are a lot of self published pieces up there. Many that are just drafts or the first few chapters of someone's musings.

I think it might be early to tell. But another thing that came to mind is people who copy parts of published works and insert it into their own. Since this is only published online, publishers aren't actively searching for copyrighted materials as they would a book submitted for publication. For instance there is a paper titled "New Moon Alice's Perspective" (or something like). It's mostly fan-fic but toward the end of the story (as yet unfinished) it directly nabs quotes from the actual published book.

Things like that might need reigning in. Also, it seems like rolling through a lot of bad writing to get to a few gems might not be worth the time.

On the other hand, if some big publishers join the site, having books available outside of amazon and apple might be a good thing for the ebook market.

I also think it is pretty interesting that publishers (authors incl') will get to choose how much they charge for their publication. Some are free, others are cheap and I can imagine that the big publishing houses will charge a bit more for their books.

I guess I'm pretty torn on the idea. Of ebooks in general, I mean. On one hand I love the digital era, love the idea of technology to-go. On the other, I love the connection with my bookstore, and the feel and smell of books in my possession. In the back of my head I secretly wonder (and this is the dominate reason I have thus far refused to buy a Kindle - despite being completely attracted to its sleek design and usefulness)even if right now we both read from the library and internet, that one day the library and physical books will be the minority. That local book shops (and even some big ones) will go the way of Tower and Virgin Record stores in favor of instant samples and download-able music.

message 4: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Mindy,
You make some really valid points. I hadn't even thought about people copying published works into their own. That's terrible! I agree with you there. It's a good idea for those that are just starting out and would like to try a different platform to reach an audience. (Even though it's not the same thing it kind of reminds me of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, it really got around by word of mouth and internet communities. Could that potentially happen for a new author that was rejected by publishers at first?)

I know what you mean about Kindle. After waiting since the first Kindle came out, I've decided to go ahead and get a Sony e-reader (well, decided to "hint" for it as a gift, I should say lol). I based my decision on cost, availability, and ability to choose where to purchase my content. Kindle is so restrictive with their options for purchasing material (it would probably take me a long time to save enough money buying ebooks to make up for the purchase price of a Kindle).
I like the fact with Sony I can choose where to go (BooksonBoard or Fictionwise often have great rewards programs). Yet, it's probably only because of the visibility Kindle provided that those other options exist.

It's true that local book shops may have a difficult time ahead. I mean with B&N, Borders, BAM, it's already hard enough for independent book stores. I don't begrudge you the connection to your bookstore :)
I can't imagine not having my favorite used book store around or not being able to browse the shelves and talk with people at the shop about what I should read next.

Yet I can't help but hope that just as with libraries and used book stores around, people still buy new books and that that would remain the case with ebooks.

Everytime something like Scribd comes along it's a chance to re-evaluate the lay of the land, which with discussions like these, you can't really go wrong. :)

message 5: by Reema (new)

Reema | 142 comments Im a little new to goodreads so i hope its ok for me to join in?! Im not to keen on the idea. There is nothing like holding a book in your hand as you can almost feel its magic. Short stories on line are ok but a novel, for me, would be too much for me to focus my attention on for a long time as i would do with a good book.

message 6: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Of course it's okay for you to join in! :D

I guess when it comes right down to it, it's just personal preference. I get where you're coming from. At first I didn't even consider ebooks an option for me. But then publishers like Orbit started offering a different ebook every month for $1 and I decided to try it. Reading books that way took some getting used to, but for me the magic is still there. And I also got the benefit exploring genres and authors that I may not have really looked at before. If there is a possibility for a book to reach a wider audience I'm all for it (while respecting intellectual property rights, of course!).

I don't think good ol' book swapping should be replaced (hey, it's even cheaper than $1, just to switch books with your friends) and there is nothing quite like cracking open a new book on a rainy day to settle in for a good read. :)

Jeez, I hope I'm not starting to sound like a walking advertisement for ebooks, lol.

message 7: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments Reema - thanks for joining in! : ) SB group is a good one. So it's great that you're new and joined up.

I know that my local bookstore sells ebooks as well as the old fashion ones. And I've read ebooks before. I agree with Samantha that it's fantastic to have books out there reaching bigger audiences. At the same time, I agree with you, Reema, about the experience or magic of holding a book.

My biggest concern is these bookstores going out of business. I think if they get on board and start selling ebooks in a way that can compete with Amazon then they'll be okay. But if not, or they don't have the capital to stage advertising and get an internet site up and running that is comparable, they may be in trouble. Which, for me is kind of sad. I don't know where you guys are located, but I'm in Portland, OR and we have Powell's City of Books (which is literally one block by one block multi story building) the biggest new and used bookstore in the world! Yay Portland. And my hope is that they will be able to evolve with the market moving to digital - as they have so far with an excellent website.

One more thing I've noticed about reading books on my laptop, is that I totally get side tracked. I have instant access to my email, and if someone emails me something, I'll stop the reading and go do that instead. Whereas if I'm really into a book I have holding in my hands, I find it easier to ignore the world around me.

Samantha - $1 a book is a good deal. Is it always something you want to read? Or do you buy it even if you might not otherwise have done so just because it's such a good bargain?

message 8: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Mindy, I think that to answer your last question, it's a bit of both. Sometimes it's a title I've seen before (recognize the cover and have read the blurb) but haven't gotten around to purchasing it and sometimes it's something I know I would never have picked up otherwise, but since it's so cheap, I just go ahead and get it.

I agree with you about reading books on my laptop, but then again I'm a big multitasker, so I like to be able take a quick break and then come back to reading. But I can definitely see how that might be an issue. :)

Right now I live in Atlanta, and even though there are some independent book stores nearby they aren't quite that big. I don't think that they sell ebooks.

Back home in Eastern NC, there's a great new/used book store, but I don't know if I could see them selling the digital format either.

I don't want to see good bookstores get shut out into the cold, but another part of me is kind of selfish in that I don't really care how I get my books, just as long as I do. Not the best rationale, and call me naive, but I just can't imagine a day when there would be no more bookstores.

message 9: by Reema (new)

Reema | 142 comments I'm from the UK and to be honest used book stores aren't that big in the big cities. Stores like Borders and Waterstones have taken over the book world here, (I would love to have a small book shop around the corner from me to just go into and look around whenever i wanted to). I'm not sure if the bigger stores are selling ebooks yet - we always seem to be a little behind but I'm sure we will catch up some day! We can get stories/novels that you can buy and play/read on a PSP if you have one but I'm not sure how well that's caught on.

I tend to do most of my reading on my journey to work and back as i have to get 2 buses which takes me about an hour and so it's so much easier to get a book out than a laptop and wait for it to load etc. I also have the problem where I'm easily distracted and so reading on the computer won't focus my mind and i find it wonders, unless it's a short story or something similar. On the other hand i go to the extreme when i have a book and am so engrossed in my book i lose track of everything around me, i have missed my bus a few times because of it!

I think ebooks will probably become more popular as everything does with new technology and maybe eventually books will stop being published on paper. But i guess it's up to people like us who love books to decide whether we want that to happen or not by making sure we buy the books and show everyone that they are still popular.
I for one love my expanding book shelves and really want it to continue growing.

message 10: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments Samantha - As much as I hope bookstores don't go out of business, especially the small ones, I remember feeling the same way with music when Napster first came out. (I may be dating myself here) But I remember walking around a Tower records store and thinking, you know... they better get on the ball and start offering downloads in-store or they will be going out of business with the rise of the internet. Sure enough, they did. Well, at least their record stores did.

If the internet can take down behemoths such as Tower Records and Virgin Record stores, Big book sellers may be next up (though it may be many years from now).

On some level, I've followed the trend. I can't even remember the last time I actually purchased a CD. I pretty much get all my music from iTunes. And truth be told, as an American, I suffer from the instant gratification bug just as any other. There is something so nice about sitting and having my coffee Tuesday mornings perusing iTunes and downloading new songs instantly. Before I leave for school that day, I'll have whatever new song/album on my iPod and plugged into my car.

I truly worry that books will go the same way, eventually. Reema - I think you're right that if we continue to be diligent about buying books and expanding our bookshelves it may stave it off.

I get so much of my content from the internet these days, I can see it being an easy transition. I read my news on the internet (thinking it saves paper, of course) and that is helping bring down the newspaper publishing companies like Tribune and others.

My first instinct was to rush out and buy a Kindle (American consumerism is ingrained in me). But I paused because my husband said they'd have a second generation out soon enough that would be better. (which they did, of course) But that pause gave me time to reflect. And as I walked the stacks in my local bookstore, I thought I'd really miss this if I were to get a Kindle. I would be easily wrapped up in the instant gratification of purchasing a book still in my pajamas with my coffee - just like iTunes. It was then I decided not to want one anymore and to commit myself to buying books at the bookstore (or downloading them from their web page if I'm in dire straights).

Then again with sites like this new one, it gives new authors a chance to get their manuscripts out there. From what I understand publishing a manuscript can be a tiring process wracked with regular beatings of the author's head against various walls. Perhaps this will open the door to new talent in that way. So while I morn the idea of losing my bookstore if these sites become dominate in the market, I also welcome the idea of a site rich in new talent. I'm completely on the fence about it.

BTW, if either of you are interested you can check out my local bookstore's website.

message 11: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I know where you're coming from with the music analogy, but I think the way music has been reaching audiences has been evolving at a much more rapid rate than the written word.

From radio, to vinyl records, cassettes, cds, then mp3s. For books, on the other hand, until very recently it's always been a pen and paper (and the printing press, of course). Imo, it will take a very long time before physical books are discarded for ebooks. Even music stores are a relatively new idea compared to bookstores (not that I'm suggesting that that makes it any easier when they close down, but perhaps more predictable).
I mean as you and Reema have said, the physical books hold a certain magic for readers.

I think we're on the same page (forgive the pun) about Scribd. How many wonderful authors that are auto-buys for a lot of people were rejected multiple times because publishers thought the story wasn't marketable? I mean, heck, wasn't J.K. Rowling told no one would want to read about a teenage wizard?

Yet Mindy, like you mention, would it be worth it to go through all those duds just to get to the gems? I think the good stuff has a tendency to float up to popularity or recognition already. That could be the case with authors at this site. It kind of takes the publisher out of the equation and lets customers decide what they want to read. That's helpful when publishers aren't always the best predictors of what their buyers want to read.

message 12: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments So true Samantha - about letting readers decide. Sometimes I pick up a book and wonder how anyone got it published! : )

message 13: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Too true, lol! :D

message 14: by Reema (new)

Reema | 142 comments But then on the other hand, anyone could decide they wanted to be a writer and we would have so much rubbish out there we would have to go through it all to find the goodsuff.

message 15: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments That's true too. It's sort of a catch-22. : )

message 16: by Alethea (new)

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 481 comments Mod
I apologize in advance, because this is going to turn into a little bit of a rant, both about bookstores and self-publishing.

I think people have to be willing to commit to their independent if that bookstore is going to remain in business. I work for a big corporate bookstore but we always have tried to keep the "local mom & pop" feeling, and we love our used bookstores up the street (and would rather send you there if we don't have your book, than to our other corporate competitor across the street), and in the next town over, we have a century-old independent (new, not used) bookstore and I send people there as well as shop there. We *heart* Vroman's! And we hope they stay in business at least another hundred years.

That said, people get really snippy with you when you don't have the item they want in the store and can be downright snide about "well then I guess I'm shopping at your competitor" or "That's ok, I'll just get it on Amazon." Thanks a lot, guys! Makes me feel really good about serving you in the future. Don't consider the fact that we have a 2-story, umpteen-thousand foot *finite* amount of space which is holding, currently, over 1 million items and at least 100,000 book titles--of which not one of them happened to be your book. (I knew you were coming, so I purposely got rid of all the copies of the one book you wanted, because I wanted you to make nasty comments to me about how we never have what you want when you want it. It makes me feel awesome, and also I'm psychic but I don't want to use it to help you. Right.)

As a customer, I also know that people want to get a good deal--I know I do, too--but consider that although you may be getting something cheap or free (especially from your local independent, who can probably scarce afford to sell at lower than the list price), that *someone* somewhere is paying the difference--and it's most likely the shop you're buying from. The less money they make, the less likely it is they'll stay in business. But you have an extra $5 in your pocket, so that's ok, right?

And while I will be sad if my company ever does go under, I am pretty resourceful and can get a job somewhere else--I'll be ok. I would be heartbroken if Vroman's ever went out of business, and Powell's too--even though, and because, I have never been there. I already missed out on Acres of Books in Long Beach.

My point is, if you want it cheap and fast, just remember, you get what you pay for. I come from a school of booksellers that believes that in order to succeed in the writing business, you must be published by a big house--or a small press with a good reputation. It's old school, I admit. But I find the idea of reading prose that has not undergone editorial review akin to sitting in Creative Writing class, critiquing someone else's work, which 80% of the time is a piece of crap, and they're not very grateful for you telling them so even when your goal is to point out, constructively, how to improve their piece! That's why I dropped English as my major, thanks very much. I'd rather pay the extra $14 to read something that a team of other people spent a lot of time fine-tuning until it was remotely readable and enjoyable, than spend hours upon hours of my own time looking for something to read (not that I need anything new--the apartment is about to collapse with the weight of my books).


As for me, if I ever got a Kindle or Sony Reader (leaning towards the Kindle, actually--it's cuter), I'd probably still buy the print copy for most books. I have quite a few books that I own in more than one format (either audio and print or different sizes/editions of the same) but that's just me being a collector and preparing for any eventuality.

I'm much more likely to stick to audio than to look for eBooks, as audio affords me the freedom of letting my eyes and hands do something else while I'm "reading"--I knit and paint, so audio is perfect for me!

message 17: by Reema (new)

Reema | 142 comments Wow. Sounds like your customers are horrible. You should come work in England. If we want a book we go and buy it regardless of cost most of the time. The big stores here are always doing some sort of deal but even so for me if i want a book i'll go get it.

I think (hope!) we are a little more understanding if the store doesn't have the book we want, as they will always try to order it in for you if they can or search through other stores database to see if they have a copy to send to your local store.

message 18: by Alethea (new)

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 481 comments Mod
It's not every customer, otherwise I'd probably slit my wrists.

message 19: by Min (new)

Min (minbuchanan) | 159 comments That's why I love Powell's! I can look online before I go and see which store the book is at (usually at the big one of course) and then put it on hold online before I go. Love that feature!

message 20: by Meme (new)

Meme (mstylp) | 519 comments Mindy wrote: "I just read this in the NY Times today. I'm kind of curious to know other people's opinions on it.

I'm wondering how..."

I am so addicted to books that I have them from a bookstore and on ebook. I love my ebook because I can take several with me at one time without take up a lot of space, but I also love my bookstore and buy books there. I have the same books in print and on ebook. lol

As for the digital age I do believe it could be easier for a starter to get their books on, but I still believe they have to have the backing, publicity of regular books for them to be a success. (OK this is not coming out the way I wanted it too, I'm not sure how to explain what I mean. I'll get back to you on that) lol

message 21: by Kate (new)

Kate (irishkatey) | 8 comments As previously stated above by most, I am a lover of books and the places you can find them(i.e bookstores and libraries). The serenity that I can get, when I'm not working a shift at my local store, is amazing at times. I am not sure where it comes from per se. So I truly hope that they never become obsolete.

I do understand the convenience of the ebooks, though. I have often found myself marvelling at the idea of having hundreds of books at my disposal so easily, but there is just one problem for me. I spend all day at work in front of a computer screen. My eyes get more tired and strained this way then having the book in front of me. I would think that the same would happen with an ebook. Now this maybe true or not. For now, walking into my store, looking at the covers and discovering a new author or subject to read on a blanket out on the lawn, is one of the best ways for me to get in touch with the inner me,recharge my batteries, let my imagination fly, and enjoy life. Weird, huh?

message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna (deety) I used to think I could never have a serious interest in e-books, but after only a few months I love, love, love my Kindle and now it's hard to imagine my reading life without it.

I still couldn't read a book off a computer screen because I get eyestrain, but an e-ink screen is just as comfortable on my eyes as a printed page. And it's really convenient to be able to buy a new book right away even if the stores are closed or I don't feel like going out just to make one purchase. Also, being able to carry around so many books means that I'll always have a backup book if I finish my current read while I'm out somewhere (this is extra handy in airports).

I decided to start going partially e-book when I got to the point of having no more practical space for new bookshelves. Too much of my shelf space has become filled with books that I wasn't crazy about, but that were good enough that I'll probably want to read them again after a few years. So now I'm buying a lot of my these "casual entertainment" books for Kindle. I think it's going to make my paper book collection better in the long run, because eventually every paper book that I have will be something that I truly love or something that is unique in a way that pixels couldn't replicate.

The most interesting thing to me about e-book related talk is the huge amount of published information on them that is either inaccurate or slightly misleading. For example, the article said that the "unprotected PDF" format of that site's content would make them readable on Kindles. This is technically true. The newest, larger Kindle has native PDF support, but I think the smaller Kindle 2 is more comfortable - and on that one PDFs must be converted to a different file format. PDFs don't always convert in a way that makes them look great on an e-book reader, so I would never, ever buy a book in PDF format. If Scribd is serious about trying to sell to Kindle readers, they need to start offering books in one of the formats that all Kindles support natively.

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