Last April, I bit the bullet and purchased my first digital reading device. I was hooked on ebooks within the first few days. A year on, I don’t think I could ever go back to print, at least not for fiction.
So what’s changed (for me) since making the switch? Several things.
1. While I now buy and read more books than I did previously, the number of books I purchase from traditional publishers is way down. No surprise as to why: geographical restrictions.
2. Despite my initial misgivings about price discrepancies between print and digital, an ebook which is priced more than its print equivalent doesn’t deter me from opting for the digital version — within reason. If the difference is a dollar or less, I’ll opt for digital every time. If I order print books from Amazon or The Book Depository, they take a week to ten days to arrive. I might feel differently about saving a dollar here and there if I had the option to walk into a brick-and-mortar store and find all the books I wanted to read at a reasonable price. (Note: This only applies to paperbacks. There is NO WAY I’m paying full hardcover price for an ebook. If there’s a new HC release I really want to read in e, I’ll wait until Kobobooks has a 30% or 50% off voucher and buy it from them. That’s how I got the latest Michael Connelly.)
3. My purchase of an ereader coincided with several romance authors releasing their out-of-print backlists digitally (e.g.: Patricia Ryan and Alexis Harrington). This trend has continued. I’m beyond thrilled by this development as it enables me to read books I’ve heard about for years, but which were out of print. (Yes, I could have tracked down some of them used from Abebooks or Amazon Marketplace, but buying used books internationally is expensive, and I’ve been burned a time or two by the books never showing up.)
4. For the first time since I was a teenager, I read several Harlequin/Mills & Boon releases a month. I’m a sucker for exclusives such as the following months’ releases being available in e a month early. I know this shouldn’t matter, but it does. I’m also loving Harlequin’s digital backlist program. Every year, I used to check the RITA nominations for series romances and then had a hell of a time tracking down the ones which interested me.
5. My attitude to self-publishing and self-published books has undergone a transformation from scepticism to cautious optimism. With the exception of a couple of turkeys, I’ve enjoyed many self-pubbed titles over the past few months. There’s a viable market here, and not just for fiction. A few of my favourite writing craft books are self-published. They include: Alan Watt’s ‘The 90-Day Novel’ (also available in print); Holly Lisle’s ‘Create a Plot Clinic’; Alexandra Sokoloff’s ‘Screenwriting Tricks for Authors’, and Stacia Kane’s ‘Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet’.
6. I mentioned further up the post that I’m buying fewer books from traditional publishers. Many years ago, I read a couple of books released by epublishers. I wasn’t impressed. Based on that experience, I regarded epublishing as inferior to the traditional print route. Since I’ve had my ereader, my attitude to epublishers has changed — with a caveat. I’m wary of buying books from an epublisher I haven’t heard of before, especially if they don’t have a PayPal option on their website. Approximately 33% of the books I’ve read over the past few months are published by Carina, Samhain, Ellora’s Cave or Loose ID. Carina and Samhain are particular favourites of mine. I’m finding more “unusual” stories to fit my tastes (i.e.: ones which don’t slot neatly into a particularly genre or subgenre, or which are shorter than the average print book). A recent example is Josh Lanyon’s ‘Snowball in Hell’, a 44,000 word mystery slash m/m romance set in early Forties Los Angeles (Sunita reviewed this at Dear Author).
7. I am already looking at alternatives to my BeBook Neo when it gives up the ghost – although I’m rather hoping it stays with me for while longer. One of my criteria for my next digital reading device is a superior highlighting and note-taking function. I still purchase reference books in print where possible. This might change if I could colour highlight and bookmark pages in the same way I can with a print book.
To conclude: If digital reading isn’t the way of the future for everyone, it certainly is for me. Of the 180 novels I read since making the switch, 5 were in print.
Do you own a digital reader? If so, how has it changed the way you read and/or the books you buy?