Wednesday
Mar142012

So You Want to Buy an eBook...

So you have your eReader and now you want to start buying books. All you have to do is go to the Kindle Store / Kobo Store / Sony Reader Store and go shopping, right?

Well...yeah...right...

The only problem is that the first time I went to the Kobo Store, with my new Kobo in hand, I thought I was still on the Chapters/Indigo print-books site. Why? All the books were virtually the same price!  I thought eBooks were supposed to be cheaper!  No printing costs!  No storage costs!  No distribution costs!  Why am I still paying $15 to $20 for a book?

Let's draw a random comparison;

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Try Denning.

At Chapters.Indigo.ca a hardcover copy of this new release currently runs for $21.12 CDN if you buy it online. Apparently the list price is $32.00, so we save $10.88. Sounds like a bonus, but really this should be the case seeing as by buying online we're helping to minimize their overhead costs. But I digress...

At Kobo.com the very same book in e-format currently costs $16.99 CDN.

So by eliminating the costs of printing, distribution, and warehousing these books, we get a total savings of $4.13 CDN. And that's before tax. I'm all for progress and putting an end to the kulling of the rainforests, but personally I'd rather pay the four bucks and have a physical copy.

The problem here is that we still feel compelled to look for our reading material at these tried and true booksellers. We've made the transition from 'brick and mortar' to e-store, but we're still thralls under the sway of the publishing industry, be it the actual publishers or the point-of-sale retailers.

It would almost be excusable if these high-priced eBooks were only for high-profile authors such as Stephen King – right or wrong, the costs of their contracts and the advertising that goes with their books must be costly.  Sadly this price point is much more common.

The publishing industry is still reluctant to let go of the strangle-hold they  have on the market, as well as the hopes and dreams of all the aspiring authors.  This is more reason to forgo the Kobo store (or any other mainstream publisher's online offerings) and dig a little deeper for the independent authors and their more affordable aspirations. There are plenty of sites where you can buy affordable independent ebooks, such as;

http://www.independentebooks.com

http://www.booktango.com

http://www.smashwords.com

That's a short list. I'm still building up a list of sites for myself.

Now the pros of an independent ebook listing can also be its greatest con – like American Idol, for every talented person there are several who are deluded into thinking they are greater than they are. As such, sometimes you will have to cherry-pick through the rabble in order to find the hidden gems. However seeing as the majority of those gems can be anywhere from free to only a few dollars, it's a much safer risk.

So don't be afraid to venture out and go beyond the safe-but-sure booksellers – by doing so you will not only be supporting an independent author but lending your hand in smashing down an out-dated paradigm.

 

Wednesday
Mar142012

So You Want to Buy an eReader...

If you're looking for an eBook reader then it may be difficult to know which one to choose. Or alternately you could be under the impression that there's not much in the way of choice. Though there are countless devices floating around out there, the most popular tend to be;

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Sony Reader
  • Kobo

The majority of the market share, and the default choice, seems to be the Kindle.  Like Post-It Notes, Kleenex and White-Out, the brand name has become so popular that it is now synonymous with the entire range of products.  People don't look for an 'eReader', they look for a 'Kindle'.

This isn't unwarranted, however.  The Kindle does seem to be one of the most versatile devices.  However in Canada the acquisition of a Kindle is still a bit more troublesome.  You have to order one from Amazon.COM (not Amazon.CA) and potentially pay duties on it when it arrives up to two weeks later.  Meanwhile in the United States you can walk into any large retailer and pick one up.

That's why I went with the Kobo.  This is manufactured by the Toronto-based Kobo Inc. which is 58% owned by Indigo Books & Music (aka - Chapters), Canada's largest book retailer.  It is not as versatile as the Kindle, but it is locally more attainable and I feel better supporting the Canadian product.  Still...that Kindle is looking pretty sweet....

No, sorry, back to the Kobo.  It can be picked up in any Chapters/Indigo store, where you can also buy a Kobo store card, which can be used as currency on their Kobo sub-site.  You can also buy eBooks from the Kobo site by way of traditional credit card, provided you have the financial sense to have one with available funds.  *sigh*

It is important to remember, however, that in Canada the Kobo isn't the only game in town. Just check out the website for Future Shop for their entries under 'eReaders' – there's a variety of brands for a variety of costs. Granted some are better than others, but if cost is your handicap then it at least leaves the door open for you.

I don't have a grudge against the Kindle, nor the Kobo, but I think it's important to know that the top four eReaders are not the ONLY four eReaders. Of course the market is now seeing more affordable tablet PC's being introduced as eReaders, but that is the subject of debate to some, and perhaps another blog entry. The E Ink screen may be boring compared to a full-colour screen, but ultimately you have to think about the device's primary function – as a reader. But I digress...

So here I am, Kobo in hand, confident that I've supported the domestic economy....and I'm supporting open-source!  Like most eReaders, Kobo supports the ePUB format, which is an open-source format for eBooks.  Kindle, on the other hand, wants you to use their own proprietary format. The Kindle store, which deals only in US funds, will only sell eBooks in MOBI format.

So large corporations, boo!  Oh Canada, yay!  Never mind Amazon, I made my choice and think back upon it as I may, I'm quite happy with my Kindle.

I MEAN KOBO!  I meant Kobo! 

.....dammit.

Sunday
Mar112012

Fear Obscurity, Not Exposure

Though geared towards the independent musician (it was found posted on Alan Cross' website/blog), this podcast between Ariel Hyatt and Seth Godin proved to be a majore eye-opener for this aspiring author.  Several great points were made here, which have already greatly changed the way I view my own current adventures in online publishing;

  • Be more afraid obscurity than exposure.  When intimidated by what may come in terms of your time and emotional investment, think instead about how much worse it would be if you never even bothered.  
  • Don't hate the haters, just ignore them.  Don't worry about bad reviews.  Some people offer constructive feedback.  Some people can be swayed.  Some people, however, just wanna hate.  Ignore them and move on.  Don't empower them by letting them get to you.
  • The best quote of the podcast - "The man who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck."  Let's be honest, we're going to fail, and we have to be prepared to fail in order to succeed.
  • Do not measure your success by 'old world' standards.  The traditional music and publishing industry is dying, and desperately trying to hold on to its former glory.  Don't measure your success against what they defined success as.  I always down-played self-publishing as the runner-up prize, but how can you call a medium that makes everything accessible to everyone as a runner-up prize?

 Check it out!

Direct link to Alan Cross blog/site.

 <-- End Note -->

Anyone familiar with Alan Cross knows that he has a great depth of appreciation and knowledge of the music world, and you can learn a lot about the music world by listening to him speak, or any other speakers he endorses.

Since my friend knew I was an aspiring author, I wondered why he made a point of forwarding me a link to a music-specific site.  Well that's the amazing thing nowadays - marketting in a web-based world employs the same tips, tactics, but most importantly attitudes regardless of whether you are a musician, an author, or an artist.

Tuesday
Mar062012

Work In Progress

There's a lot of work to do, and writing the actual book is only a small part of it!
The internet may offer a voice to everyone, but you have to do all the leg-work yourself. That keeps it affordable, but you don't realize how much work is involved until you get started.
Squarespace makes this web and blog building aspeact easier (NOT a paid advertisement), but it's still a long process.
Setting up social media sites is not as fun as you'd think.
Interpreting legal to make sure you are adhereing to all legal use of images and fonts is arduous (its different when you're not just posting it on your own personal for-fun website).
Making sure you follow all publisher guideliness for the ePub conversion.
It's a good thing the book is already written, cos by this point I'm getting tired of it all!
Yet I'm still excited and can't wait to put all these puzzle peices together!
Hope you'll all stick around to see the final product!

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