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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The whole e-book mess

I wonder what the folks at Harper Collins are thinking about their decision to not release the e-book version of Black Magic Sanction at the same time as the hard back version? Are they seeing it as a mistake, or are they thinking it was a good move?

To look at the comments at various places around the 'net from readers, there are a lot of people who seem to be saying they will borrow the book from the library instead of buying it, now. There are also a lot of people who just outright say that they'll pirate it as soon as it becomes available.

As for me, I haven't bought the book, I'm waiting for the e-book version to come available.

And I will admit that I'm at a bit of a dilemma. A pirated e-book copy of Black Magic Sanction is available for download. For free. If I could buy it, I would. But I can't buy it, and it's just right there.

I think Harper Collins is going to discover that their e-book sales are going to go in the toilet. They've given people a rational excuse (in their own heads) for pirating the book. People will be able to tell themselves that they would buy it if it were available for sale, but since it's not, they'll download it another way.

Also, I believe that some people are now pirating a book for the very first time. They are learning how to do it, when they didn't know how before. Teaching people how to acquire something for free, when they've been buying that something, is probably not a great business model.

Honestly, I think that Kim Harrison is the biggest loser here, and I really feel for her, that her publishing company is using her as a pawn, as an experiment. Maybe she should put up a "donate using Pay Pal" link on her site, so that people who illegally download her book but would like to compensate her in some way, will have that option.

Here's my own story - my first netbook was a Linux. But at the time, all of my Fictionwise books were in .lit format. I hadn't realized that I wouldn't be able to read books on my new netbook that I had already paid for. I bought future Fictionwise books as a PDF, or in another form I could read on my netbook. But when someone told me how to change my .lit books into PDF, I did it, even though it's technically probably not something the publishers think we should be able to do. Still, these were books I had paid for and then could not read on my reader of choice. My current netbook runs on Windows, so it's no longer a problem.

The point I'm running in circles trying to make is that I want to support the authors who write the books I enjoy reading. I want them to get credit for the book sold so that maybe they can make it onto one of the best seller lists, and I want them to be paid for the book sold. And yet, I've gone to see if there is a bootlegged copy of Black Magic Sanction out there for download, and I'm debating with myself whether it's okay to go ahead and download it or not. I wasn't tempted by the audio book when it came up, but I know several people who were listening to it who don't normally listen to audio books, and I'm guessing that means they got it illegally. I also know some people who have no problems admitting to obtaining it illegally, since they feel Harper Collins basically shot themselves in their own foot by not allowing people to legally download the e-book.

There are a few things that, in my opinion, need to be done:

1) There need to be fewer kinds of ebooks. Right now the only way to guarantee you'll be able to read every type of ebook available is to do so on a PC. That's why I have a tablet netbook instead of an ereader. I can hold it like an ereader, and I can read every kind of ebook format. I'm not stuck with a proprietary device that can only read one or two formats.

2) Publishers need to learn from the music industry - give people an affordable way to legally buy the product and they will. Overprice the market, or withhold things entirely, and you shoot yourself in the foot.

3) Don't get stuck in the old way of doing things. You have to change with the times or you'll get left behind. I think it's telling that the ebook publishers publish a book first in ebook form, and often don't publish the book in paper form until a year or more later. They realize they get the most income-per-book from ebooks, so they saturate the market that way before publishing an old fashioned book so that those not yet reading ebooks can have a chance at it.

As for myself, I will be honest enough to say that I haven't completely made up my mind, yet.

If it were just a matter of sticking it to Harper Collins, the idiots who made this decision, I'd have already downloaded it. But it's also a matter of Kim Harrison, the creator of this work. How do I show my displeasure with Harper Collins without hurting Kim Harrison? I don't think I can.

Like I said, I think Kim Harrison should put up a Pay Pal link on her site. I'd gladly give her $9.99 in pay pal funds and then download the book with my morals intact.

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