Changing Times for eBooks

When you think of reading eBooks, which retailers do you think of? For me it comes down to three or four retailers. Amazon. Apple. Google. Barnes and Noble. I know there’s Kobo too, but they don’t have any kind of traction here in the US.  Barnes and Noble’s Nook is a nice experience. I’ve played on several devices before. But let’s face it, the entire future of the Nook is a giant question mark. Then comes Apple, which may or may not have colluded with major publishers to increase eBook prices. That leaves us with Google and Amazon.

I have an Android device and I’ve never once read a book on it. But I imagine Play Books is right up there with Apple and Amazon as far as its user experience. And now they’re trying to make it even better. Google and Amazon have both recently changed the fonts of their eBooks. Both were changed after extensive research into a variety of factors that affected one’s ability to read on their devices. I sometimes download books on to my Kindle, but I haven’t actually read on it in quite some time.

I applaud both companies for trying to make it easier to read on their devices, but I have to be completely honest here. I have one of the very first Kindle models, which leads me to believe that it would already be a bit more difficult to read on my device than on some of the newer models like the Paperwhite or the Voyage. And I’ve never had any issue with the font. It isn’t too small to start. It isn’t difficult to read. And I’ve read so much about the big gaps and spaces between words and letters in books because there hasn’t been any hyphenation before the new font, but I’ve never come across anything that looked out of order or weird. So props to both companies for improving the user experiences of their eBook readers, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt a new font was necessary.

The name of Amazon’s new font is Bookerly. The name of Google’s new font is Literata.

What about you? Have you ever been reading on your Kindle or Android device and just wanted a better, more aesthetic font for your reading?

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What’s the Worst Book Title You’ve Come Across?

Most book titles are pretty basic. Nothing too memorable. At least not to me. You remember them because of the story and not because of the title. Although some do serve as reminders of what the story was about if it’s been a long time since reading it. For instance, Halo: The Fall of Reach is about the fall of Reach. How easy to remember. And The Cleanup is about a cop who is thrust into action when a local girl he knows calls him for help and there’s a dead body. He has to clean up her mess. Easy. I read that years ago.

But not all titles are like that. Storm Runners. No earthly idea what it’s about, besides the fact that it probably has something to do with a meteorologist or something. A Cold Day in Paradise. No idea. Kisscut. Not a clue. I’m not saying that these are bad titles, but they just don’t set off any bells when I think of them.

I mean, I don’t expect to really remember minute details from every book I ever read. Obviously that’s not going to happen. But maybe these titles aren’t the greatest ever. Maybe.

Anyway, that’s not the point. When you read those titles you’re not immediately taken aback or pushed away from possibly reading the book. So they’re all fine. But some books just ask not to be read. Better yet, their authors force your hand. I know we all have our reading habits and tastes, but let’s be real for a minute. There is not an audience of tens of millions of people in America who want to be reading about incest. No, not a book in which there is some inappropriate sexual contact, I’m talking about books that are basically meant to glorify the practice. So I don’t have a specific title that is the worst I’ve ever come across. But any mention of one’s brother’s you-know-what in the title is about as bad as it gets for me. And then the authors of these books complain when Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Kobo force a title change if the book is to be sold online. What a damn joke. The stories and the authors.

What’s the worst book title you’ve ever come across?

Picking Your Reading Device

Photo Credit: on-ce.eu

I’m sure that most of you have already read my post from last month titled Print vs. E-book: Which side are you on? I say this because this is the most popular post of mine in terms of views, Likes, and comments. But if you haven’t read it, then please do. I made it clear in that post that I still prefer to read printed books over e-books. I’m also a realist. I realize that a growing number of people prefer to read on one of the many devices available today.

How do you decide which device to read on?

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I personally own a Kindle, no not the new Paperwhite that everyone seems to be raving about, it’s one of the first models. I still like it just fine. My Kindle was given to me as a gift so I didn’t have to compare any reading devices before making my choice. If I had I probably wouldn’t have picked any device at all because I like printed books so much more, but for the sake of this post let’s say that I had to choose one. I’ve played around with the Barnes and Noble Nook plenty of times in their stores. I’ve played with Kobo devices. Everyone has used an iPad. We read on our smartphones everyday, why not read a book on there too? Then there’s the trusty ol’ computer. The reading experience definitely varies from one device to another, but the experience is mostly a good one on each device.

So I ask you, how do you decide which device is best for reading?

Spring Break for the Book Lover

Photo Credit: Fork Shoals School

Down here in the lone star state Spring Break has officially begun. This is the first time since 1997 that I’m not in school during the holiday week. I’m not complaining. But I know others in my age group (18-22) who are still in college and will be celebrating the week off from school. There will be countless parties to attend, too much alcohol consumed, trips to other parts of the country, and who knows what else. I’m not discussing the traditional Spring Break for the typical twenty-something, I’m talking about Spring Break for the book lover!

Browse

Do you typically get your books from Amazon? Or Barnes and Noble? Or Books-A-Million? Or maybe on your iPad or Kobo device? I don’t care where you get your books from. I don’t. But tell me what better for you to do than browse for some new books starting right now and getting through them before you have to return to school? There is not a thing better. So if you’re a book lover, and I’m betting that you are, then get your mouse clicking or get to your local bookstore and find you some books to read this week!

Read

By now you’ve done your browsing and buying, right? Better have! Now find your regular reading spot and get started! There’s no point in getting your hands on some fresh books to have them sitting there in your ‘to-be-read’ pile. Honestly, that makes me angry when I see blog posts about having stacks and stacks of books ‘to-be-read.’ I mean, come on. So don’t be one of those guys. Get your new books out of the bag or the trusty Amazon box and get started reading. Now.

Write

Do you happen to be a writer too? Perfect. You’ve left your manuscript sitting there on your computer screen far too long. That ends right here, right now. I’ll acknowledge that most writers are probably done with school with regular jobs and don’t get off of work this week, BUT I’ll also tell you that you’ve done made all the excuses to not get back to writing that you can possibly come up with. Open the file. Take a deep breath. Write. It’s that easy. You may not have the week off from school like all the kids, but you need a kickstart to get back to your writing, and this is it. After all, no agent ever agreed to represent a manuscript that never made its way out of the ‘first draft’ stage, right? Right. Now write.

If you reach Thursday and you’ve read four books, written ten chapters in that great manuscript of yours, and you find yourself wondering what to do…then start from the top and REPEAT!

Is Amazon Good for Books?

ImageBefore I begin I would first like to make it known that I am a huge fan of Amazon. The paperback edition of my book is sold by CreateSpace and the Kindle version is sold by Kindle Direct Publishing, which are both Amazon companies. But I’ll try to be objective.

I’ve read several articles recently about the impact that Amazon has had on the publishing industry. Most often the takeaway seems to be that Amazon is not good for books for a number of reasons like the discounts they receive from publishers or how low they’re able to sell their e-books. There are plenty more but there’s no need for me to be exhaustive at this point.

Jeff Bezos started the company all the way back in 1994 as a bookstore. In the 20 years since then independent bookstores have been cut in half and the mega-chain Borders has shut its doors. But is it really smart to blame Amazon for both or either of those? Maybe. But what about the fact that indies were always under fire from big chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders? Or what about the fact that most indie bookstores have no place in the e-book market? Amazon is constantly blamed for the failure of indie bookstores in recent years, but there’s always more to it.

Several articles estimated that roughly seven percent of all of Amazon’s annual revenue comes from books, which puts the number around $5 billion. It’s easy for critics to throw that number out there and make a fuss about Amazon’s bookselling practices because they seem to be doing it better than any other company at the moment. But let’s think about what they’ve managed to accomplish to help the reader. First, the customer will  never pay list price of a book on the site, no matter if it’s hardcover or paperback. Compare that to walking into your neighborhood Barnes and Noble bookstore and paying exactly what it says on the back cover. Second, the selection that Amazon is able to offer is far and away the most vast there is in the world today. Most readers have experienced the turmoil of wanting an obscure book that may be long out of print only to find that Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it online or in-store. And third, if Amazon didn’t have a place in the bookselling world then what would stop Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million from selling books at cover price. Or Kobo or Apple from selling e-books at higher prices. I mean, all four companies already struggle to compete with Amazon in the book marketplace, but they are competing.

Amazon also has several publishing imprints that operate just as any other traditional publisher and back the most lucrative book writing contest in the country, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which gives its grand prize winner a $50,000 publishing contract along with several $15,000 publishing deals given out to the genre winners.

Lastly, Amazon revolutionized the publishing world with its Kindle. No company has been able to develop an e-reader quite like it, which is why Amazon holds a roughly 67% percent e-book market share.

I’m not here to defend Amazon, but I would like for the site’s critics to be fair. Amazon’s competition in the marketplace helps drive prices of all books down for the reader. They changed the publishing world when they released their Kindle e-reader which has evolved into a full-use tablet comparable to any other. And they offer a selection of books that no other company can. So if I had to answer the question as to whether or not Amazon is good for books, well I think you know my answer by now. Yes.