I can only shake my head

With coffee in hand, I sat down to write today’s post. The laptop booted up, the cats settled into their morning routine of annoying one another instead of me and I realized I didn’t have clue one for the blog. I stared at the laptop screen, fingers poised above the keyboard and nothing came. Then I realized what the problem was. My muse, evil muse that she is, woke me in the middle of the night. The only good thing about that was it was one of those “OMG! That’s why the story wasn’t gelling” moments. The downside was, I spent the rest of the night thinking about how to fix the problem. So the brain did not rest overnight even though the body did.

Of course, it didn’t help when I stood at the kitchen sink and looked outside and saw water running across the backyard. Water that shouldn’t be there. Not wanting to really know why there was water flowing and pooling enough for my still sleep-addled brain to register, I stepped outside and discovered it wasn’t the neighbors backwashing their pool but the result of my mother not completely turning off the water yesterday morning when she filled the birdbath.

And I still hadn’t had any coffee.

So, finally I was able to sit down to try to find a topic for today’s post. Yesterday, I blogged about an article in Publisher’s Weekly that put the blame for the decline in e-book sales for traditional publishers on the need for better dedicated e-book readers and something they call “digital fatigue”. There was no discussion about the high price of e-books from traditional publishers like the Big 5. There was no discussion about the application of DRM. Instead, they tried saying we needed better dedicated e-book readers like there are better dedicated MP3 players. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t carried an MP3 player for years. I have a smartphone, one that allows me to use a micro-SD card that I can put all the music I want on it. That means I don’t have to carry two or more devices with me when I leave the house. It is the same with e-books. I can read e-books on my smartphone or one the tablet I usually carry with me. I don’t need or want another device to haul around.

Anyway, I asked some questions in the blog post that I wondered if the survey the PW piece mentioned had bothered to ask:

1) Do you own a dedicated e-book reader?

2) Do you own a smartphone?

3) Do you own a tablet?

4) If you own a dedicated e-book reader as well as another device capable of allowing you to read e-books, what percentage of your e-books do you read on each device?

5) What percentage of your e-books do you purchase from each device?

There should probably have been another couple of questions asked as well:

6) Do you buy print books and, if so, what percertage of your book purchases are digital and what percentage is print?

7) What is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a print book (mmpb, trp or hc) and what is the maximum price you are willing to pay for an e-book? (and why the difference?)

Those are basic business questions that the publishers should be asking of their customers and aren’t.

A couple of other things to think about. If you haven’t changed your password for your Amazon account recently, do so. I’ve been hearing some rumblings that there might have been a security breach. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the rumblings but there has been at least one author claiming her account was hacked. Also, Amazon is cracking down on some of the third party promotion sites that authors have been using. So you might want to hold back on paying for that sort of promotion for a little bit until the dust clears.

One mug of coffee drunk — all hail, Deathwish Coffee! — and still the brain is refusing to work. No, that isn’t quite right. It wants to work but only on fixing the story. So, I shall sign off here and let the Muse have her way. If she releases her talon-hold on me in time, I will come back with a more coherent post later today. Until then, have a great day!



  1. I carry a Kindle Fire which I use as a tablet. Most of my pleasure reading is via audobooks, which I listen to through my Kindle and I buy on Audible.com . I almost never pay full price for audiobooks, instead I buy credits and use them. My phone is a cheap one that only does text and voice. I use that because of my job–if I drop my phone into a toilet I’m working on I’m only out 15$.

  2. Yes, yes, yes, about 95% Kindle vs 5% iPad (yay DRM), almost 100% Kindle now, roughly 90/10 for digital v print, about $10 for either format these days. Books are books.

    I had a dedicated eInk reader before Amazon introduced the second-gen Kindle, and missed the experience (once Sony closed the Reader Store I went exclusively iPad for a while), so I bought a Paperwhite in February during a sale. Hardly use the iPad for reading anymore (still gets used a ton for everything else).

  3. I have a kindle and a smart phone. Despite the fact that I read lots of blogs and their teeny, tiny comments on my phone I haven’t gotten a kindle app for my phone. I listen to audio books through the phone when I’m in the car. I love how I can sync Audible Books to my kindle and pick up in bed where the audio left off during the commute. Read a lot of the Dresden files that way.

    I have to know I’ll love a book to pay more than 5.99. (I typo’d “live a book” when I first wrote that. Maybe I meant it).

  4. 1, Yes, I own a dedicated e-reader. (Kobo)
    2. Yes, I own a smartphone.
    3. No, I don’t own a tablet (but my wife does).
    4. I read 95% on the Kobo and 5% on the smartphone
    5. i Buy NO books directly from these devices. I buy everything from my desktop and side load through Calibre.
    6. Yes. I still buy print books. Probably 95/5% digital/print
    7. I pretty much don’t my mmpb’s any more. I’ve paid three figures for a collectable hardcover. It would be extraordinary for me to pay two figures for an ebook. Trade pbs would have to be under thirty dollars, probably under twenty, to tempt me. None have in the past year.

    1. Oh yes, I use a separate MP3 player because accidentally draining the battery on it is lees of an inconvenience that accidentally draining the battery on my smartphone.

  5. Quick post from work here: I received an email from Amazon saying they’d had a breach. The email told me they’d invalidated my password for my protection and that I’d need to create a new one on my next login.

    So, yes, there has been a breach. More details when I’m home and logged in and can access the details properly.

    1. Whew – changed mine already this AM. Also changed teh PW on the e-mail account I use for my author stuff.

  6. Price always has an influence on demand. One of the few “laws” in business is that when price goes up, all things being equal, quantity demand falls.

    If ebook prices have risen, or if a specific subset of ebook prices have gone up, you can expect demand to fall. This is the same as expecting to get wet if you go out in the rain.

    Looking for other reasons than price is dumb if you don’t look at the obvious first reason first.

  7. Yes, I have a dedicated e-book reader. It could be better in some areas, but works where it counts: ease of reading and capable of reading in daylight. E-Ink readers have had this capability for a long time. While there is slight improvement from the present E-Ink readers and the Kindle Keyboard, it is not so much so that it greatly alters the “experience,” which was pretty danged good to begin with. Before e-readers my reading for entertainment had plummeted. After I got a Kindle Keyboard, it soared to levels I hadn’t reached in years.

    I don’t have a smart phone. It’s actually a ruggedized quasi-smart phone with some apps in firmware, but doesn’t have the ability to download additional apps. It doesn’t have a reader and the screen is too tiny for me even if it did.

    I also have a separate MP3 player, even though my phone has a Micro SD card and the capability to play MP3 files. I had intended to use my phone as an MP3 player, but it requires a special adapter and you can’t charge or be connected to the computer and listen to music at the same time. Plus, there’s a risk of the adapter coming loose and broadcasting your music to the world in general.

    I opted for a cheap MP3 player that accepts Micro SD cards. Like the phone, it can play video files, and has the additional capability of acting as a radio receiver. Not having a speaker means there’s no risk of disturbing others, unless I connect it to my computer speakers, and I can charge my player at the same time.

    No, I don’t own a tablet. I really want one specifically for PDF files, but the problem is that tablets with large enough screens are expensive. PDFs are where the smaller e-readers are problematic since the content can’t be reformatted to a smaller screen. Ironically, I went to e-readers specifically because I hoped to eliminate stacks of printed manuals.

    After I sat on my Kindle Keyboard, I had bad luck with the Kindle Touch until I said if I had to buy another I would splurge and get a tablet simply because they didn’t seem to hold up well. But this one, a Kindle Paperwhite with anemic memory, which was a warranty replacement, has held up well, just as the kids’ refurbished Kindle Keyboard is still going strong (I prefer to buy refurbished for such things).

    All my e-book reading is on my Kindle. All my e-book purchases are for my Kindle. I seldom buy print books anymore, both because of space issues and because an e-reader is easier on my eyes. The latter, and access to what I want to read, is what has increased my reading.

    The price I am willing to pay isn’t hard or fast. It depends on whether or not it’s fiction or non-fiction and whether it’s a reference book. In all instances there’s a page/price ratio, and while I haven’t calculated exactly what that limit is, it does come into play with book purchases. I’ve walked away from many e-books because the price was just too high for the content. For example, most of Pratchett’s are expensive enough I regard them as a rare treat.

    What I do buy from the major publishing houses are often Kindle Daily and Monthly deals. This means I gravitate toward promotions, public domain works, and indie. Had a certain controversial political tell-all book on Amazon hadn’t been up for pre-order, I wouldn’t have had second thoughts about the price, which is way over my set point. My only interest there is a desire to read it before it gets sandbagged, but that interest doesn’t quite cover the price tag.

  8. I’ve got two kindles… a Fire Tablet bought on sale so I could share my ebooks and audible account with my home schooling son, and a paperwhite that is as easy to read in sunlight as in the house.
    With a smartphone (Note 4) and tablets in 6, 8, 10, and 12 inch sizes… Long story there, but I actually only spend about $250 on all of them combined.
    I buy ebooks simply because I’ve gotten spoiled just twiching one finger to change pages. PIcking up a real, tree sourced book just doesn’t fit in my overstimulated multitasking lifestyle. Picking up another device and having it pull up the last page I was on is a terrific trick too.
    Pricing… Somehow, after a career in technology, I ended up with a degree in business management. Estimating prices is part of the skillset, and my analysis of the “Traditional Publishing” world is that it’s blatently unprofitable, intended to make money by accounting for huge losses, and make more money cheating the producers of IP by not accounting for all units sold. NOT buying dead tree books is more of a protest against all of that.
    That said I’ll spend $6 gladly on a fresh work from a terrific teller of tales, $18 for a hard cover, and about $4 on an ebook. A lot of the value of printed books comes from the smell and feel of a new book opening in my hands.
    Since retirement; though, I’ve redirected the what used to be a $60/mo budget from bookstores to Amazon and Baen ebooks. KU is hopefully making money for my friends and catching sales and discounts where possible builds up my personal library.
    Traditional Publishing IS dying, it’s strangling itself in greed, dishonest, and ignorance… dancing on the promenade deck while the ship is sinking.

    POD systems are being marketed that take up less than 30 square feet… That means a moderate sized coffee shop can become a bookstore.

    Customers would browse on their own devices or a kiosk in the store.. pay for their books and have them hot off the printer in a few minutes. The model I researched would print a book every five minutes. A dozen books an hour and staying open 9 to 9 could get 144 books already paid for out the door. Putting in a night shift tending the printer could double that.

    Up to 288 books a day 7 days a week at $7 average price would bring in over $700K gross to split between the shop owner and the leasing company providing the equipment.

    That is UP TO $700K from one machine working full time… BUT that market will be getting flooded as soon as anyone starts sniffing a profit there.

    The technology is simple, just an automated and updated version of how we’ve done printing and binding since Gutenberg.

    My bottom line thought is that we’re gonna have more choices than ever before, traditional books, POD, and ebooks galore. The good stuff will rise to the top and Empress Theresa will be joined by similar quality attempts at writing…

    It’s gonna be a great time for readers!!!

  9. Businesses too stupid to ask the right questions and listen to the answers, deserve what they get. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for traditional publishing – only amazement that they’ve survived that way this long.

      1. On my hard drive, with off-site backup. I keep nothing in online storage.

        “Backups are nice, but only restores count.”

        I use an ancient tablet that doesn’t do much, but it’s just barely enough to read a book with. [bookmarks? Font sizes? what are these things of which you speak?” (2007!)]

        I haul around a dumb phone, lay it somewhere near to where I’m working, and check it every half hour or so in case a customer called. The phone is basically a pager; the sound quality is too poor for more than “The server is down!” and “Did the cleaning people knock the network cable loose again?” I use a tiny MP3 player clipped to my shirt for audiobooks.

        The tablet runs a week on a charge. The phone runs about the same; the battery is starting to fail. The MP3 player only makes it about 10 hours

  10. A few years back I thought of buying firs generation Kindles for my nieces and nephews for Christmas, Then I thought.Hey I like reading eBooks with my Kindle Ap on my desktop, Wonder what a Tablet would cost for them, Same price, I got after Christmas Cards from all of them thanking me for the tablets so they were a hit, As to how much I would pay for an eBook? Well I actually buy Baen eARCs for $15 so I would be a statistical outlier 😉

  11. 6) Do you buy print books and, if so, what percertage of your book purchases are digital and what percentage is print? Yes, I do still, but only when I either can’t get it in eBook form, or it’s outrageously priced as an eBook. Then I typically buy it used either from the local used book store or from Amazon. Probably 98% of what I buy is eBook and 2% DTB.

    7) What is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a print book (mmpb, trp or hc) and what is the maximum price you are willing to pay for an e-book? (and why the difference?) This really depends on what it is I’m buying. If it’s something like an auto repair manual then I’ll gladly spend $20-$30 without complaint. If it’s a new HC of something I really want (I haven’t purchased one in the last couple of years) I’ll go up to $25. A trade paperback (once again, haven’t purchased one in years) maybe $16. A mass market paperback (been years) probably $8. And I’ll complain about those prices as well. I grew up buying books for $2-$3. Most of what I buy in DTB is used, so after shipping/handling $4, while the local used bookstore is usually around $2-$4.

  12. Smartphone and tablet, 99% of my reading is on the tablet. The smartphone is pretty much when I am stuck in a queue or waiting for something/someone while alone, music on both, camera on both, apps on both. I average perhaps 1 paper book a year.

    80-90% of the ebooks are $6 or less on Amazon, but I do occasionally buy a E-arc from Baen. But over $10 has to be something special.

    The Amazon thing seems to be because so many passwords have been spread from other hacks and people tend to re-use passwords, I know I am guilty of that I got hacked 5 years ago for something because I re-used a pw/username i had for a short time 8 years before that. It does not appear that Amazon themselves have been hacked.

  13. I don’t really get the whole “pricing based on format” thingy. My willingness to pay depends on the answer to the question: “For how long is this going to keep me entertained?” So a 6-million-word magnus opus in ebook form can fetch a higher price than a short story, even if bound in solid gold.

    Samples are great though, because it answers the question of “Will this entertain me at all?”

  14. 1) Do you own a dedicated e-book reader?
    Yes, Kindle Paperwhite.

    2) Do you own a smartphone?
    Yes, android platform.

    3) Do you own a tablet?
    Yes, Kindle 8.9″ Fire.

    4) If you own a dedicated e-book reader as well as another device capable of allowing you to read e-books, what percentage of your e-books do you read on each device?
    Almost 100 percent on the Kindle fire. Slight use of the smart phone as a reader when caught waiting for something and no Kindle handy.

    5) What percentage of your e-books do you purchase from each device?
    Forty percent Kindle Store, another forty from Baen, and the rest from the desktop when I see something I like on a blog, or a blogger recommends an author, or when I am cruising the Amazon wish list and I see a price drop.

    There should probably have been another couple of questions asked as well:

    6) Do you buy print books and, if so, what percentage of your book purchases are digital and what percentage is print?
    I only buy a print book if I really want the book, and I cannot get it in a digital format. Buying a print book is rare. So, 99% e-book, 1% print book.

    7) What is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a print book (mmpb, trp or hc) and what is the maximum price you are willing to pay for an e-book? (and why the difference?)
    Trade paperback, a little more than eight dollars.
    Hard cover, almost never.
    E-books. four to six dollars.
    The difference is because with the print book, I get a physical object in my hand, no battery life issues, Amazon will not come to my house and remove the book from my possession, and if I want to give it away or sell the book as used, no digital rights issues. (my precious!)
    E-book pricing is more complicated. I have trouble getting past the belief that I am paying for something that is intangible, and only exists as some form of electronic storage. Thus I believe e-book prices should be lower, and I am not going to pay more than ten dollars. Even if I really want the newest novel. I will wait for book to age and the price to drop. (although, I now have a clearer idea of e-book pricing because of a post on the Mad Genius Club and I have revised my idea of the right price upward)

    1. > pricing

      “So, what’s the price?”


      “How much does the author get?”

      “83 cents.”

      “So you keep $13.27.”

      “Oh, no. That’s *retail”. We sell at a steep discount. And we have overhead for editing, artwork, shipping, warehousing, typesetting, printing… it costs a lot of money to get a book to the store. We really don’t pocket any more money than the author does.”

      “But it’s an ebook, so most of that doesn’t apply.”

      “Well, we still have to pay our editors, and…”

      “But that’s overhead, not profit.”

      “Our method of accounting…”

      “I tell you what. Since you clear about the same 83 cents as the author, let’s set that as your profit margin. And then another 83 cents to cover your overhead, and you get to keep anything left out of that. So your price should be $2.49. Fair?”

      “Oh, we couldn’t possibly pay an editor out of 83 cents!”

      “You’re paying them, what, $40K? And the print run of the book is 20,000? It takes them, let’s be generous, a week from start to finish to do their thing. That’s $800 over 20,000 copies, 25 cents per copy… and that’s a one-time cost; reprints don’t need editing.”

      [continue until their heads explode]

  15. 1) Do you own a dedicated e-book reader?
    Yes. Kindle e-ink reader.

    2) Do you own a smartphone?
    Yes. Android phone.

    3) Do you own a tablet?
    Yes. 3 effectively. Old Fire HD 8.9″, Samsung 10″ tablet, Fire HDX 7″

    4) If you own a dedicated e-book reader as well as another device capable of allowing you to read e-books, what percentage of your e-books do you read on each device?
    Fire HDX 90%
    Phone: 5%
    Normal PC (Kindle App): 5%

    5) What percentage of your e-books do you purchase from each device?
    Fire HDX: 75%
    PC: 15%
    Phone: Once in a blue moon.
    Mostly find stuff to read by looking at suggestions of ‘similar books’ from what I’ve already read. I also use Book Bub and found some things that way as well, thus the PC and once in s while my phone.

    There should probably have been another couple of questions asked as well:

    6) Do you buy print books and, if so, what percertage of your book purchases are digital and what percentage is print?
    99% digital, 5 % physical.Some books I want on a bookshelf. Usually I’ll wind up buyint digital and the physical versions then.

    7) What is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a print book (mmpb, trp or hc) and what is the maximum price you are willing to pay for an e-book? (and why the difference?)
    mmpb: $0 these days – prefer digital
    trp: $mebbe $10-12 depending on the comic, still prefer digital to read.
    hc: usually my fav authors ina fav series, so those guys just take my money. $20-30 on top of the digital. 😦

  16. 1) Kobo e-reader.
    2) iPhone
    3) iPad

    I keep inheriting the damn things from people. The place is full of electronic crapola. There’s even a Blackberry Playbook around here somewhere.

    4) The only thing I’ve ever read on the iPad was Monster Hunter Nemesis when I bought the pre-release ebook.
    The Kobo I keep copies of my own work on, to make sure the files function properly. I usually read ebooks on my desktop, the odd time I get one. Because big monitor and nice swivelly chair, plus headphones to drown out the racket. Chez Phantom is a three ring circus sometimes.

    5) Buy them and read them from the desktop. I trust Apple products less far than I can throw them. Kobo is Chapters.ca only, and very wanky.

    6) I pretty much only buy print books. I am a dying breed of dinosaur, I fear me.

    7) I buy the hardcovers of authors I look forward to reading. There’s maybe three or four I buy anything they print, others on a one-at-a-time basis. (Larry, write FASTER man!) So, maybe $25.00 CDN. Paperbacks, $10-$12 CDN. If there was a new book out in e-book only, the most I’d pay is paperback price unless there was a smiley face with horns on the cover. If it was an impulse buy, probably under $5 CDN.

    I’m a weirdo though, books are the one place I refuse to economize because it makes me feel poor. Books are the last thing I cut back. In the days of yore when I was a comic fiend, comics came before beer, sometimes before food. There’s always oatmeal, right?

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