Monday, April 18, 2011

A Rapidly Changing World

I was at The Romantic Times Convention two weeks ago, and all of the talk--as you might imagine--centered around the changing dynamics of the publishing business.

Ebook sales and popularity are exploding, heralds are crying that "print is dead!" and we authors are wondering if we'll ever have reason to do a booksigning again!

We're spending a lot of time as authors thinking about the future, but I'd like to get some perspective from those of you who enjoy our books, but who aren't in the thick of the industry.

So, today, I'm hoping our readers here on Supernatural Underground will weigh in on the following questions for us. We'd love to know what's going on in your mind!

1. Do you have an ereader or do you read ebooks?
2. What percentage of print books versus ebooks are you currently buying?
3. If you have an ereader and only or mostly download books to read, would you find a booksigning worth attending? If so, why?
4. Do you have any suggestions for us authors as far as how to sign/promote books for those of you who buy them electronically? (I've been asked to sign a Kindle and a nook more than once...the actual devices!)

...and any other thoughts or observations you might have!

Thanks so much for being our readers and let us know what you think.

36 comments:

SandyG265 said...

I have a Kindle and probably buy about 60 percent of the new books that I read in ebook format. I still buy paper books if they are something that my Mom will want to read, it's an older book that's not available on the Kindle or, if I'm getting a signed copy. I like reading physical books but I just don't have space anymore.

MarnieColette said...

I have a Sony e-reader (I don't use it anymore) I now have an iPad that I use with iBooks, Kindle, and any digital form it will read. I read a lot on it.

60% ebooks to 40% print

3. Of course I would. I would want to meet the author and perhaps get a book plate and a photo. If I love the book whether ebook or print I would want to meet the author.

4. Sign book plates for your ebooks - or postcards! I know they are working on a digital signing process for books too. Promoting them is easy FB / Twitter / Blogs --- people that like ebooks like theses places. Word of mouth is great and on your own website.

Stephanie Christine said...

I have a Sony ereader that I love! I also still buy print books. I couldn't give you a precent of how many ebooks I buy but I probably buy more print then ebook right now. I would attend a book signing no matter if it was an ebook or a print one. Love book signings! Meeting your fav authors, talking with other readers, and the swag!! don't forget the swag:) Book signings will never be dead:) I like getting the cover of my Sony signed

Stephanie Christine said...

oh I forgot to add in my ramble that the whole Romance Trading Cards movement is wonderful! I think writers should do more things like this.

Roger said...

1. I have kindle software on the P.C.
2. 95% paper 5% e-book
3. Would still buy paper for book signings
4. Signed bookplates & or signed bookmarks work well also

Chandra Rooney said...

1) Both. An eReader allows me to "test" more books, but the technology isn't at the level yet where I would cease buying titles in print. Physical books are furniture to me; they're necessary as beds or chairs or desks.

2) I have way more print books. Until ARCs and review copies are all electronic in Canada, this ration isn't going to change for me.

3) For me book signings have never been about the signature; they're about the interaction between an author and a reader.

4) Do multi-author events so that it draws a bigger crowd and allows more interaction between authors and readers? (The Smart Chicks tour is a fantastic example of this done well.)

Kristi said...

I have eReaders and I probably buy half and half right now. I WOULD buy most everything on my eReader but agency pricing has me in a rage, and I can get the paperbacks cheaper at Target (for example).

I currently buy my favorites in hardback/paperback but I'm revising my opinion on that. I LOVE being able to have them in my reader whenever I want.

I would attend a book signing just to meet my favorite author. I like the bookplates, or the trading cards is definitely a great idea.

tfausone said...

I have a Kindle and an iPad, but do most of my reading on the Kindle. I would say 99% of books I read are e-books. The ability to read in larger print is a huge selling point for me. I have never attended a book signing, but I wouldn't think it would make any difference--if you want to see the author you would go anyway to my thinking.

Tan said...

We own 2 sony PRS (well, we are 2 heavy readers living under the same roof) but here's the trick. We're French and we love to read in English so it's sometimes easier to find some books in digital editions even if Amazon.fr is also a great help. I don't really know about the percentage. Maybe 50/50. I still love to buy books made of paper and ink.
About booksignings. I asked myself the same question last month when I had the occasion to meet Patricia Briggs. I realized I don't have her Mercy's series on paper because I'm a glutton and I want to have them when they virtually reach the shelves. Fortunately, I have her fantasy books (Aralorn, Hurog...) on paper. For me the signings are more an occasion to meet with the author and create a memory; I wouldn't be interested in having my books signed by someone else for me. I want to be there so maybe the most important thing is not the kind word in the book but the words exchanged at this precise moment.
Now, new generation of readers are tactile, you can take notes while you're reading so maybe it's going to be possible to sign virtual books one day.

llamannerdymom said...

1. Yes, I have a Nook.

2. I buy more print books. Actually it seems that I am buying double of some books. I find books that I enjoy on my Nook and know that my husband will enjoy them so I buy them in print for him. Plus I buy books for three teenagers that are voracious readers like their parents.

3. Because there are authors that I just love their work and it would be a thrill to meet them.

4. I find that authors that communicate with their readers via blogs like this, Facebook and Twitter are more human and maybe more enjoyable to read because of it. Almost like friends.

Further comment might be keep up the good work!! There is no such thing as too many good books to read. Whether it is in traditional print or on an e-reader.

ANI said...

I do not own an e-reader and have no intention of ever buying one. I am an Indie bookstore owner who believes that ebooks have hurt the industry and will have dire repercussions in the future. Piracy is rampant and ebooks are still in their infancy stages. I was in Borders listening to a group of college students talk about all of the free ebooks that they download because they can get them free on piracy sites. Brand New Books are available in pirated E format for $1.00-$2.00 minutes after official release. It only takes ONE person who knows how to break the DRM for thousands to read a stolen copy. Booksellers who spent years learning a trade are suffering because people would rather save a buck and send all of their money to a corporation vs. spend it in their local communities. Authors are beginning to abandon the selling medium that helped MAKE them. It's a very frustrating time.

~THE OPTIMISTIC PESSIMIST ~ said...

I.have.a.Nook .. but I amost use it for e-arcs. I still purchase the same amount of hardcover and paperbacks. If a book is available from my bookclub in hardcover I will definitely purchase it.

Ruth A. said...

1. I have a kindle.
2. I read sample chapters and ebooks only books from authors that I love. Otherwise it is print picked up from Reading Rock Books my indy. I especially love picking up debut authors and new series.
3.+4. SWAG love love the stuff Hell I go out of my for my paranormal bookclub to get some nice goodies every month. Since I'm currently stuffing bags I gonna say I over did it just a tad this month. Also if you are a paranormal author who has signing close to Nashville TN I'll come to your signing if I know about it.

Mary said...

I have a Kindle that I really like but I use it for reading ARCs (like from NetGalley, etc.). If I like the ARC enough, I buy a paper copy for my library.

When I buy books (which is ALL the time--at least 2 a week and that's a slow week), I prefer physical copies, though I will buy ebooks when I don't want to wait for delivery or run out to the store.

It's so hard to say how to address this, because we don't really know how devices and readers will change as ebooks continue to develop and the market expands.

Nicole said...

I have a nook and I absolutely LOVE it. I buy probably about 85% of my books as ebooks. With the lack of shelf space in my house, it just works out better for me to do it that way.

I love still attending book signings. For a long time I used to bring labels with me for authors to sign, and then I would stick them all over my nook cover. However the oils on my fingers started ruining the labels.

My new idea is to get a blank journal. Print off the covers from my favorite books I have on my nook, and have the author sign in the journal. That way, I don't have to worry about loosing or ruining a sticker.

I also saw something about an iPad app that allows authors to sign digitally and send a blank page to kindle, nook that inserts into the person's library. We'll see if that kind of technology takes off!

Nicole said...

I broke down and got a Nook. I have apps on phone, but unless specifically formatted, it was a pain (for like PDFs etc) to have to enlarge each page to see the text.

But, that said, I LOVE my print books and am about 90% in print, 10% ebook. Mostly it's still cheaper to buy in print b/c of BN membership. My ebooks tend to be things on sale and are cheaper than print or are in ebook only. I like the Nook and am getting through my ebook TBR stack faster now that I have the Nook, but I'll always buy in print. I'm hoping one day there will be print/ebook bundles. That would be AWESOME.

As for signings...I'd say have signable swag (bookmarks, postcards, mugs, and whatnot). Also, some authors have online stores where readers can purchase gear designed from the books (tote bags, shirts, etc). So if you have a store, maybe have some of those things at bigger (you know it's usually well attended) signings (maybe like RWA, RT, etc). I wouldn't have my actual reader signed, but would consider having the cover for the ereader signed ;).

Ruth A. said...

The problem I forsee with ebooks is censorship it seems far to easy for someone with a little bit of power to be able to wrinkle their nose and poof the book away or "correct" it.

Gypsy said...

1.I have a Kindle, recently given to my by my husband, though a year ago I said I would never own one.
2.I'm buying about 85% of my books on the ereader right now, because unfortunately my small town went from 3 bookstores to one, which is a half hour drive away, so the Kindle is definitely easier.
3. I would still go to a book signing of course! There are several series of books that I own in print format, and will continue to buy in print, simply to own the series. If I had a chance to meet the authors I would absolutely go to a signing.
4. I like the idea of postcards of the covers, or similar to when you buy movies now when you buy a print version, you get a digital copy as well for a little more money, that way you get the ereader version, and something signed by the author.

StacieDM said...

Hello Joss!
I was lucky enough to get two books signed by you at the RT convention.

I have a Kindle and Adobe Digital Editions on my laptop. I also have apps on my phone for reading. I think I have a 50/50 split between buying ebooks and print books. There are some books that I have to have in print because I love the cover art. If I don't have to have the cover I usually decide between print and ebook based on price. There are some ebooks that are priced much higher than the print version.

I think Romance Trading Cards are a great solution for authors that want to promote their ebooks and have something to offer at signings. It is a way for people like me, that love covers, to get a tiny version of the cover art.

Jessica said...

I recently got a Kindle as a belated Xmas present and have been buying ebooks occasionally. Mostly when I see that I can get a better deal on them vs regular books. Some of my reg books come out cheaper with my rewards program at Borders, so I stick to those. Plus it makes it easier for authors to sign!! :)

I'd say 95% are still paper/hardbacks and 5% are ebooks. Maybe a little more, but for the most part I buy paper/hardbacks

I would still attend booksignings no matter what! If I read the author, I love the author and will have something for them to sign. Even if its one book, unlikely! Worst comes to worst I would find something else that would be good for signing.

I think signing the actual device is pretty cool! I've seen some readers design their own hard cases with the author's book cover pics on them and the author signed that. It was cool!

Also you could always go with a traditional autograph book, one of those signing teddy bears or some such thing, t-shirts or purses/bags of some kind as well. I've seen a lot of different things like that at signings when I've come with my books. I guess those readers prefer it that way. I honestly like getting my books signed, hence the reason why I tend to buy the book rather than a downloaded copy.

SdyLion said...

My world at work is all electronic. To relax, I want to unplug. So my books are all print. I like the art work of paper books, I like the feel or them between my hands, and their smell.

I have e-books of a few books that do not come as paper. I had something happen to my lap-top and the registration was messed up between the e-copies and my adobe reader. It took me a month to fix. Needless to say, that will not happen to paper copies.

Cory said...

I have a Kindle, and my book purchase are about 80% ebook now. I simply have no more bookshelf room, and no more room to put more bookshelves. I do still love print books though. They just tend to be impulse purchases now (I love visiting my local bookstore).
Considering I do still purchase paper books, I would definitely attend book signings in my area. I would likely purchase a book there to have signed, even if I had previously purchased it as an ebook. However, I think just a signature in a journal would be cool to. That way I could start a collection of signatures or something.

Katie Dalton said...

1. no ereader
2. i buy only print books
3. I would love a book signing. even if i had an ereader i would want something on paper
4. no idea

hope this helps :)

Nicole Murphy said...

Yes, the elephant in the room that we're not only not ignoring but trying frantically how to work out how to ride the damn thing :)

I've got a Kindle and I love it - not buying many books at the moment because of my massive TBR pile, but once that's cleared I can see I'll be doing most of my purchasing and reading electronically.

Its value came clear to me while I was travelling - being able to have all that reading, in one little device that I can hold in one hand while eating with the other - vital when eating alone :)

I have some friends who are already swearing they'll never buy print again. It's very interesting.

Brent said...

I've been reading almost exclusively on my iPhone with the Kindle App - about 94%. (read 100 books last year).

Went and saw Kim Harrison at her Black Magic Sanction signing and had her sign the back of my iPhone. That phone is now displayed proudly on my bookshelf - I had read each of hers books at least twice on that phone.

I'd like to add a specific point to why I choose ereader material. I work night shift and live in an outer suburban area. Getting to the bookstore is problematic. With my Kindle App, I can download a book in seconds. Purchased more books than I would have otherwise... Also have waited until 2:20 in the morning to download a book as soon as the publisher releases it. Have done that 6-7 times.

Marie said...

Hi Joss

I don't have an e-reader and yes I too got you to sign my book at RT.

It's a tangible way of recording the moment you having meeting with the author and can't be duplicated electronically.

I'm an international indie store (mixture of new and used) and am struggling but I'm trying to establish a niche between the big box stores and the library service. Have some way to go yet.

JenM said...

I'm completely hooked on my Kindle and my Kindle iPhone app. If I had my way, I'd read 99% on my K, but thanks to agency pricing I can't afford to do that. The only reason I still read print is because I get them cheap through Paperback Swap. My keepers are all in eformat, whereas if I want to try a new author, or are pretty sure the book won't be keeper, I trade for it.

I've never attended a book signing, but if I were wanting to do so, not having a paper copy wouldn't stop me from attending. I'd go to meet the author regardless.

Steven said...

I've been reading ebooks for over a decade now (started out using my old Palm Pilot!)

I have a nook which I recently purchased and have multiple ebook apps on my iPhone. I love the convenience of ebooks, I can carry an entire library around with me and I don't have to worry about tracking down a copy of new books, I can download them in seconds and start reading NOW.

That being said, I still own hundreds of books which I've collected over the years and they are still special to me.

I would attend a book signing by an author I liked without any kind of special enticements since meeting the author is the real draw. The signature in the book is just a bonus, a souvenir if you will. Thinking about it, I would probably buy a print version specifically to have the author sign it just because it's cool. =)

Anonymous said...

As the owner of a small Indie Store I talk to customers all day who use their electronic devices to read on, but purchase the print version to have on their shelf. Customers love booksignings and there is a lot of debate going on about what do you get signed if you only have the e-book. Let me just say that for the time being, there is plenty of room for print and electronic. Now who is going to do the printing of those books be they paper or digital is another matter all together.

Sheree said...

1. I have a Kindle and I've read ebooks on my laptop for years (the Kindle is a very recent acquisition).

2. The overwhelming majority of books I buy are print books, but I do buy them for the cover which ebooks lack (not only are most ebook covers only so-so, but on the Kindle they are b&W anyway). Also, what with DRM and other restrictions (can't lend, sell, or trade ebooks), I still favor having a paper book in my hand. Plus, if I lose/damage a book, I'd be upset but not nearly as upset as I would be if I lost/damaged my Kindle.

3. I do attend book signings (I'm planning to go to Jayne Ann Krentz's next week) and I buy paper books for that. Mostly, I just want to meet my favorite authors and get an autograph.

4. Cool swag is always good: trading cards, bookplates (which basically are just stickers), etc. I'm received promo stuff like totes, travel mugs, pens, lip balms, candles, bath salts - all with the author or book or series on them. It's all good. My favorite is a reusable shopping bag in its own little pouch that I carry in my purse so I'm never without a bag when I go to the store. I've often mentally thanked the author who gave that to me. How, if only she had signed it... :)

mcullars said...

1. I don't have an e-reader (but I want to buy one) I read my ebooks on my laptop.
2. 80% ebooks and 20% paperback/rarely will I buy hardcover. I purchase more ebooks because their is bigger selection of paranormal, scifi, romantica epublishers than print publishers. Although I think that the print publishers are putting out more books in this genre.
3. yes, I would. I would want to talk to the author about the books and ask questions, and to express personally how much their books delight me. Because reading a book that personally effects you makes you feel close to the author and you want to share that feeling with them, to see if the author lives up to the way you pictured them.
4. When I went to RT , I printed off the covers of my favorite books and asked them to sign the covers.

Netti said...

I have a sony e-reader though I rarely use it. Since I'm an indie bookstore owner I tend to use the ereader for eARCs ... and yep, that's about it. I find that there is nothing better than holding a paper book in my hand, the feel... the smell. I find that is what my customers feel as well. I think e-books are great, but I truly don't forsee them ever taking over a *real* book. As for signings, bookplates are definitely worth it (I have found the reader will actually run out and buy the book specifically to put the plate it in... just sayin') :D

Sharon S. said...

I've had a kindle for 2 years now and there is no going back. It is just too darn convenient, but I miss the beautiful covers. So I appreciate book flats from authors. That way I get to look at the pretty and still have the space. I can show friends the pretty too.

I still get paperbooks (just bought a hardback of Lover Unleashed), but e books you can get instantly and you can't beat the prices.

Libby said...

I understand the advantage of ebooks for convenience when traveling.
But give me a REAL book in my hands any day!

Bella said...

I do have an e-reader, but I still buy LOADS of books. It ends up being Paranormal Romances that I load onto my e-reader and Urban Fantasy / Young Adult books that I buy. I'm not sure why, but that's how it always seems to work out, maybe because Paranormal Romances normally have the kind of covers you wouldn't want people to see you reading, hehe?! *shrug*

I'd still attend a signing, though, and would definitely buy a real book, even if I already had the e-book version, just to get it signed ... it's just cool to interact with authors ... they're readers' celebs, hehe.

Jenn said...

Hi,
I read a lot and I collect books. So here is what I think.
Yes, I have an iPad so I can read from any source. I only buy eBooks that are not available in book format. There are a lot, like Pyr and others. I buy way more print than eBook. I think it would still be fun to meet the writers. Maybe they will come up with a handwriting thing for iPad where the author can sign on your iPad and you could keep them altogether.
Well James Paterson has been making commercials and other authors are making short clips about their books that they put up on their website. I would like to see more commercials because then maybe more people would read!
I will always buy the book, but if going on vacation I would buy the eBook to take with me. However, many places are not making them cheaper. I have see 7.99 books that have an eBook version for 7.99. The whole point was for them to be cheaper. I would also like to have the option to buy the book and eBook at the same time for a greatly reduced price.

My thoughts,
Jenn