Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The ebook debate hits home

Sad news, one of our two local indie bookstores is going out of business as of this week. And so the debate heard everywhere these days has come home to me.

We have three bookstores in town:

A small, corner store that's been around longer than me, has a horrible little website, doesn't have much selection but has aquired lots of regulars over the years. They seem to be doing fine. This place supplied my weekly book fix throughout childhood. I spent a lot of my allowance here.

Barnes & Nobel moved in a few years ago. They have a Starbucks, a writers group, children's reading time, and of course, a huge selection. They are always busy. I hold my NaNoWriMo meetings here. I love their bargain book section - I'm much more likely to try a new author if I find their novel on sale. If I really like it, I will come back and buy more books at full price.

The sadly closing bookstore that's only been open for seven years. They have an awesome children's area with live animals (No, not dead ones... I mean as opposed to stuffed animals... and no, I don't mean taxidermy. Sheesh.) and toys and books. They have a good selection for a small store. They had summer reading programs for kids. They get authors in for book signings. I met Jacqueline Carey here. But... I never bought a book here, the other two stores are more convienently located for me.

The owner cited the growing market for ebooks as one of the main reasons for declining sales. Is it truly that or is it the economy? I like a book in my hands. I don't have an ereader (yet). When I have the time to sit down and crack open a new book, it's places where I probably wouldn't bring an ereader anyway: the beach and the tub. I love to read. But I'm not buying near as many books as I used to, because I don't have the cash to spend like I used to. Not to mention, the subconscious urging everywhere to 'go green'.

There are a select few authors whose releases will make me scrape up the money to go buy a hardcover because I can't wait for paperback. Otherwise, horrible to admit, I know, I am inclined to shop at my local used book store. Reusing. See, I'm being green. And the books are more affordable for beach and tub reading where they are likely to get wet and sandy.

Ebooks are pretty darn afforable too, and like the bargain book section and B & N, I am more inclined to try new authors. I've read a few on my laptop and that works fine for me. Not to mention, this is also a green option so I feel I'm doing a good thing.

When I bring up ebooks to those who have not had any contact with them, all they know is what the newspaper tells them: ebooks are closing bookstores. Is that the case? I don't think so. People who have the money, like the feel of a book on their hand or to display on their shelves and/or aren't comfortable shopping online will be at the bookstore. There is still a need for them, and hell, I need an inspirational place to hold my NaNo meetings. The part of me who looks at the checkbook balance, has the desire to eat books for breakfast and seeks to quiet that little green voice in her head, likes ebooks.

How about you?


  1. I sympathize completely! We used to have a couple of used bookstores here in my tiny town and then three the next county over. We never had name-brand stores, but they all offered a pretty good selection. Now we have only one in town and one in the next county. (And it's a Christian bookstore. They have nice stuff, but if you're looking for Lord of the Flies or Terry Pratchett, you're out of luck.) The bookstore in the town where I live has a great selection and the owner is more than willing to order books for you, so I stop by there a lot. (She's fun to talk to, as well. :D) The library where I work also has frequent book sales, so I stay well-supplied in books, but I really wish we had a bigger book store nearby. *cries*

    I have played with someone else's e-reader and I didn't care for it. My biggest deal is I have horrible eye sight and that electronic screen is murder on my eyeballs. I also like holding books in my hand, but I don't think they're going to put bookstores out of business. As you say, there'll always be a demand for them. :)

  2. IMHO - Amazon.com as a paper book seller is the reason that so many bookstores are closing. Their impact on the big chains is equally devastating as on the little stores.

    But looking down the road - I can see where an independent bookstore that supports e-books could be a viable business.

    It would repair computers, sell used books and some Indie books, coffee and cookies. Half the time would be teaching people to use their technology. Classes for seniors and so forth. It could be two or three years down the road, but I think it would work out.

    Still my opinion - e-books are a niche market. A growing market, but still pretty small. Maybe as more writers put their backlists up it will get better. But right now the most you can get is new books. If I could get a collection of say - Andre Norton it would make my day!

    As we speak my mother is laying on the couch, with her Sony e-reader, gleefully reading Grishom. Since her cataract surgery she has an awful time reading print. Sony lets her read the latest and a bunch of out of copyright books.

    My Nook is powered up and waiting for me to finish reading Tarzan of the Apes. (Can you say Racist? Hoo boy! The book is 100 years old, and it is SO dated.) I have Sherlock Holmes as well. This is all old stuff - I'm waiting for some serious backlist before I get rid of my p-books.

    Just my $.02.

    Sorry about your bookstore.

    That is a shame.


    PS. My novel 'Let's Do Lunch' is out on Kindle. I'm scrambling to get the paranormal finished so I can market it to trade Publishers. We'll see what happens. Did you read about Dorchester Press? They went PoD and SB/TB (Smart Bitches) are having a large farm animal.

    Fun stuff!

  3. Things are definitely changing in the world of publishing. Amazon is the biggest factor in my opinion. What Jeff Bezos has created with Amazon is rather amazing when one thinks about what he has done in a little over a decade. I buy all my books at Amazon and only now and then at barnesandnoble.com I rarely go into a bookstore.

    But I am an author and am delighted with the Amazon Kindle program – and the 70% royalty and now sales also in the UK. I am also expanding my ebooks to all other applications such as iPad, through smashwords.com . I am now using Amazons' createspace for PODs.

    I have been publishing POD and ebooks for ten years. For me, it all began with putting a number of my late husband Don Pendleton's books back in print (POD) and also offering them as electronic books.

    Ten or twelve years ago I believed ebooks were going to be popular as technology improved. Psychic? (I have been known to be LOL ) Did I, or do I believe that ebooks will do away with paper books? No, but the self-publishing and ebook debate is getting hotter every day. Along with the publishing changes by authors, and by publishers, there is a domino effect which I blogged about last night. I've done several blog posts about the choices authors now have--changes that many of us are pleased with.

    "Shattered Lens: Catherine Winter, Private Investigator" by Linda Pendleton

  4. @Ms. Kitty - I did read about Dorchester Press. A large farm animal is right! Wondefully put. ROFL!

    I hope you're doing well with your Kindle release!

    @Linda - Welcome! We can always use a psychic around here. :D I'll have to check out your blog post when I get a moment.


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