Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking the Mystery Out of EBooks

I'm honored to have Pam Ripling as the super star of my blog today. I have to say that Pam's views are shared by me as well and not only is there value and quality in her thoughts, but there is also invaluable experience that should not be ignored by writers and readers alike. So, enjoy... Pam's expert views will shed new light on the subjects of Ebooks.

This just might be a timely topic for some. For me, not so much. My first electronic book was released in 1998. Yawn.

For many people, likely the larger part of the U.S. population, digital content is brand new and maybe suspect. Their confusion is understandable, their fears many. After all, as a society, we’ve been turning paper pages for centuries. Baby boomers and older, in particular, are a paper-dependent populace. We’ve already had to endure the vinyl-to-tape-to-disc-to-digital journey in the music industry. We’ve suffered the Beta vs. VHS, the rabbit ears, the cable, the satellite dish wars.
It’s a small wonder, then, that people can be seen virtually hugging their heavy, hardcover copy of THE DEFECTOR to their chest and screaming, “You can’t take books away from me! My real books!”

Calm down. Paper books are not going away, not anytime soon or ever, so please exhale now. Ebooks, however, are also here to stay, so it might not be a bad idea to become familiar with how they work, just in case. Like, someone might give you a Kindle for your birthday, and then where would you be? Feeling a bit uneasy. Uninformed. Behind the times.

So as much as I’d like to extol the virtues and benefits of ebooks, I will, instead, endeavor to explain how they work, via a brief FAQ made up from queries/comments I’ve received from my readers.

1. I can’t sit in front of my computer long enough to read a book. Good news! You don’t have to. There are a myriad of devices now available, and several under development for release in the coming year. Readers with some smartphones can already read ebooks and probably don’t know it! Even Nintendo’s DS can be outfitted with software that will read books.

2. I’m a zip when it comes to downloading stuff from the computer. Too many cables, too many programs. More good news. You can go completely wireless with a device like Amazon’s Kindle, which doesn’t require a computer at all. The upcoming offering from Plastic Logic will utilize a wireless connection from a cellular carrier. More will follow.

3. I’ve heard ebooks are expensive. Not true. They average a much lower retail price than their paper cousins.

4. I like to give away my books after I’ve finished reading them. How can I give away an ebook? As a royalty-earning author, this is a touchy subject for me. Sadly, your generosity eats into my income. However, you cannot give away an ebook unless you no longer keep a copy of it on your device(s). That would be akin to making a copy of a paperback book and giving it away. A big no-no.

5. I read lots of books. I can’t afford a Kindle or any other ebook device I’ve seen. Make a quick list of the last fifteen or so book purchases you’ve made, the prices you paid. Then compare the prices of the same books in electronic formats. Over time, the savings will pay for the reader, while at the same time you are going green, big time! Consider TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer, at Amazon: Hardcover: $12.73, Kindle edition: $6.59. Savings=$6.14 plus shipping!

6. I don’t want to add another device to my ever-growing pile of technology-I already have an iPhone, a Palm Pilot and a netbook! You are in luck. You can read ebooks on any one of these devices—no new hardware required!

7. What about all those formats? I’m lost in a sea of alphabet soup! Yep – PDF, HTML, LIT, DRM, Mobi, Palm, etc. Unfortunately, the variety of formats doesn’t help the cause. Once you are interested in a specific device, find out if it supports the more popular formats before you buy.

8. I really love and need the smell and feel of paper when I’m reading a book. Can’t help you here. Am thinking about marketing an aerosol spray called, “That New Book Smell.” What do you think?

If you’re serious about adding ebooks to your virtual shelf, see if you can get your hands on an ebook reader to try out in a store. When I had a chance to play around with Sony’s Reader Digital Book at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, I was sold. You might be, too. Don’t be afraid to explore the new electronic book frontier!

Additional resource:

Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is the author of paranormal romantic mystery, POINT SURRENDER, from Echelon Press, Amazon, and for your Kindle, iPhone or other e-formats, Fictionwise. Visit Anne at


  1. Very informative post, Pam and Nick.

    Teresa Burrell

  2. Very detailed interview, Pam and Nick. I'm sure you answered many questions (and fears) about ebooks.


  3. Great reasons to buy ebooks! I truly want a Kindle, and will get one once I've saved enough pennies. Although I love the feel and smell of a book in my hand, I want an eBook reader for one reason: travel. Packing one electronic gadget is SOOOO much easier than 2-3 books! Especially when you're a fast reader, like me!

    Great post.

  4. I wish I was a fast reader. Alas, I'm a slowpoke. I'm thinking about getting the brand new Sony Pocket Digital Book. Cables don't bother me, and I'd rather have more control about what's on my device.

  5. Thanks so much for this article Pam. I'm a slowpoke as well. Oh Gayle I want a Kindle too!

  6. Love the guest post Pam! I BEGGED for a Kindle for my mother's day/birthday present this year. We travel most of the summer, and always suffer from an overloaded suitcase and marital distress because of the books I haul with me. This is the perfect solution. While I never will give up my hard books, I adore my Kindle. (Just bought your book on it a couple of nights ago!) I also adore audio books! I hear so much grumbling around the book blogging world. I encourage everyone to have an open mind and read every way possible!