Are eBooks Killing the Book Industry?

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I said I would talk about this soon.  I’m just going to warn you that I have no real facts to back what I think, but rather personal observations from watching friends and family.

I’m just going to say right now that I don’t think eBooks are bad for the book industry at all.  While I do see more and more indie authors, I think the standard publishing houses will remain so.  There are enough snobs who are weary of indie authors.  Honestly, I’m wary of indie authors.  There are good and bad ways to do an independent novel, but unfortunately many that you’ll find will have been done the bad way – without an editor, littered with common grammatical and spelling mistakes, and without a properly constructed story.  Part of the publishing house process is the service the editors provide.  They help hone a novel to its best self, and a lot of indie authors do not take the time or invest the money to hire a real editor.  If a friend recommends an indie or someone asks me to review one, I’ll give it a shot.  After all, I liked My Memories of a Future Life.  But still I am wary, and many others like me will be wary, too.  This alone will keep the regular publishing houses thriving.

Amazon announced their Kindle Fire last month, and with that presentation showed a very interesting chart.  Sales of physical books are steadily increasing.  In a down economy.

Amazon Book Sales
Amazon's chart shows sales of physical books growing

Amazon is the largest world retailer for books and for eBooks as well, so if they’re still growing, then there’s not much to worry about.  Amazon is online, and the closing of Borders shows that physical book stores are struggling, but physical books themselves are not.  I mean, if Amazon can grow in this economy and with the Kindle to hand on the same website, that’s a pretty good indication of people’s reading practices.

I honestly think that eBooks bring more people to reading.  It’s so easy now to read when you have a few spare minutes.  You don’t even need something like the Kindle.  You just need an app on your iPhone or Android phone, and can read when you’re doing all of the waiting our society dictates (doctor’s appointments, public transportation commutes, and everything in between our busy lives).  Personally, I will always have books that I will want to own a physical copy of.  There is something about owning books that is important to me.  I also like the turning of the page, the smell, the feel of the heft of words in my hand.  But eBooks are great for those books you wouldn’t have purchased because of the space they would occupy.  And, like I said before, for those books you are slightly ashamed you own and read.

So many different ways to read mean more and more people are going to be reading.  I’m not worried, because honestly, readers are still interested in quality.  That’s why there are so many readers for blogs like mine.  People want to find that great read, that book that makes them think and feel and experience another life.  We’ll continue to look for it, and publishing houses will continue to provide it.  I’m not saying that every book that’s gone through a traditional publishing house is guaranteed to be good (*cough*Twilight*cough*), but your chances are higher.  People have faith in the system and we will continue to put our faith in it as long as it churns out good books.  Until that stops happening, the book industry will be just fine.


A Few Musings . . . .

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  • Did you know that with a full-time, regular hours job that it is hard to read a whole lot of books?  Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like my job, I like being challenged and I like stretching my talents.  But if someone were to come up to me and offer me enough to live on to read and critique books all day, I would be a very happy camper.
  • A lot of people are talking about eBooks and whether or not they are “killing” the publishing industry.  I feel my Twitter feed is usually crammed with this debate, blog post after blog post.  I have to say, I’m not really sure what I think.  I’m a traditionalist, I will always want to own hard copies of books, but I love the portability of eBooks.  It is also easier to hide those “guilty pleasure” books you’re ashamed you’ve read but still enjoy if you can hide them on your Kindle, instead of a book shelf for all to see.  (That was a clumsy sentence, but I am too tired to figure out how to fix it.  Fake gold star if you can do better in the comments!)  I will ruminate on the eBook vs. hard copy and probably post about it here soon.  The post will contain no statistical analysis, as I am allergic to numbers.
  • I like “Castle” and it always improves my Monday nights.  I would also like to follow cops around, but feel no desire to examine the dead bodies.
  • I would also like to get back into academic writing.  As I type this, I realize that I have weird hobbies.
  • The National Book Award nominees were announced last week.  If you are a book nerd, you’ve heard about the Shine debacle.  I have not read Shine, or any books by its author Lauren Myracle.  The short version is the judges and NBA press officials had a phone miscommunication.  The judges said Chime (by Franny Billingsley) but the press officials heard Shine.  Why there wasn’t an emailed, faxed, and typed version of the list sent to the press officials is completely unknown and was a stupid mistake to make.  Shine was announced as a nominee, then Chime was added as a sixth nominee (in the Young Person’s Literature category), and then Myracle was asked to withdraw Shine from the competition.  How completely rude, misguided, hurtful, insulting, and childish on the part of the judges.  Author Libba Bray sounds off(warning: contains strong language)
  • NaNoWriMo is approaching.  I am undecided whether or not I will be trying to read and write 50,000 words during November and spending Thanksgiving with the Scottish fiance.  Obviously, Scottish fiance comes first (though both Crossed and The Impossible Dead come out during November . . . .).
  • Speaking of The Impossible Dead, I am highly annoyed that I have to wait a month to read it when the UK can already get their hands on a copy.  I am unsure whether or not if I purchased a Kindle edition via amazon.co.uk if they would deliver said book to my Kindle in the US.  I am tempted to try, but it would be a waste of pounds if it did not go through.  The other possibility is have the Scottish fiance bring a copy with him when he visits next month, at which point I would get the book a few days early at least.  I also prefer UK editions of UK books, simply because the Britishisms and Scottishisms are not edited out.  This American at least can understand them.

    Slains Castle
    A side view of Slains Castle
  • Halloween is coming, so I am planning on reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the first time.  This is also inspired by my visiting Slains Castle in Aberdeen last year.  This was supposedly the location that inspired the work.