Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Check this out

Ebooks have loads of demerits, especially as they are marketed to libraries. They are sold at full price, while print editions generally go at a hefty discount to reflect libraries' volume purchasing. They can only be read with certain, proprietary readers, something analogous to insisting that the libraries require patrons to read their books by the light of one preferred manufacturer's lightbulb. They can't be sold on as a library discard once the library no longer needs them for the collection...

Of course ebooks don't wear out. Programming them to self-destruct after 26 checkouts is tantamount to asking librarians to embrace entropy. Anyone who thinks that this is going to happen has never spent any time with a librarian.

“And why do we need libraries?” some might ask. I think that Courtney Milan puts it best:

Libraries are the future of reading. When the economy is down, we need to make it easier for people to buy and read books for free, not harder. It is stupid to sacrifice tomorrow’s book buyers for today’s dollars, especially when it’s obvious that the source in question doesn’t have any more dollars to give you.

I want this to be more than me quoting other people, but unfortunately my time is short. So here are the facts as they relate to me (as that’s what it’s all about). In the last year I have checked out 29 paper books from the library, and at least 10 ebooks (I can’t find a quick way to export my data for the ebooks). For the sake of argument, we'll pretend that the format of the books don't matter, although I would prefer ebooks because my reader is much lighter than most novels. So, of those 39 books, 30 of those were new to me authors. That means 76% of those books were the first time I’d read these authors.

Did I like them all? No, but I tried them. And of the whopping nine remaining books, five were by authors from that original list. In most cases these were books that were part of the series. Four are part of ongoing series. Of those four, I dropped two due to a dislike of how the second book played out.* The remaining two?

I want them. I want them now – quite possibly enough to buy the whole series to own once they come out.

Of these 39 books I’ve recommended at least 10 of the titles to friends. That’s 25%, and I know that half of those will result in current or future sales (12.5% for those playing at home). I know that doesn’t seem like a very high number, but that’s just based on word of mouth to my friends/mom’s book group/etc. This does not count any additional sales that I might “make” by putting my thoughts out on the internet for just anyone to read.

And in a bad economy that still does not lend itself to excessive book shopping that's nothing to discount.

* this does not mean I’m adverse to trying out other books by the same author.

No comments: