Saturday, January 12, 2013

E-books

                                                  



I recently read that e-book sales have levelled off and are now about 25% of book sales.   On the other hand, Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, a publishing competitor to Amazon, recently predicted that e-book sales would reach 45% in 2013.  There are still a lot of people who prefer the physical book.   Print on Demand publisher, Createspace, charges a price based on the number of pages  and it is impossible for a print book to be less than an e-book, in fact, the price needs to be about double to allow for the same profit for the author.   This price difference would be a purchasing factor for some people.

In on-line discussions of the merits of e-books vs. print books some people hold strong views on the merits of each.   There is the smell, the heft, the feel of a real book in your hands, some say.  On the other hand,  there is the ability to control font size and to save on storage and living space not to mention suitcase or backpack space when travelling.

Some people are used to sharing books, trading books or re-selling them to a used book store to recoup some of their costs of purchasing the book.   This is only possible with a physical book.   Many people use libraries and although some libraries make it possible to borrow e-books, I suspect most people enjoy browsing the aisles and shelves of the physical space.

I just finished reading a short novel which I downloaded from Amazon to my computer.   A couple of points on this topic came to mind as I was reading it.   Firstly, the page changes come often and can be distracting.  There are only a couple of paragraphs before you must click to go to the next page.   When you turn the pages of a physical book you will have two pages to read and each page will probably contain more text that one page on your e-reader.   Secondly, it is cumbersome to try to find particular detail.   At one point I forgot who a certain character was and spent more time trying to find the place where the person was introduced than I would have with a physical book.   I'm not sure why that is but it seems easier to scan and locate a particular place in a story with the actual book.

Formatting issues can be difficult to resolve in e-books.   I don't know how this particular book was put into e-book format but it had the disconcerting feature of hyphens between syllables of words every few pages, but not at the end of the line.   I suspect that in the physical book these words were hyphenated due to being at the end of the line but in the e-book format the words had different placement, but the hyphens remained.  For example,  'exper-ience'.  Probably the author/editor should have picked up on this.   Yet, I know myself how easily little errors can slip into text.

A deciding factor may be that I have no more bookshelf room and when I look at the books on it I wonder if I will be reading some of them again.  Maybe in ten years but meanwhile they occupy space and weight the next time I move.

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