Thoughts from a conversation about ebooks today:
Booksellers refusing to adapt to new technology & look for ways to sell books in a format customers want, instead putting out bitterness & resentment aren't doing themselves any favours.
Change is scary when new technology disrupts established business models but shaming readers for wanting ebooks won't stop it. I just don't want to buy stuff from people who make me feel bad.
If you won't sell me a fucking ebook, plenty of people will.
There are lots of possibilities for small/independent shops to partner w/ second tier online companies like Kobo and integrate electronic sales into their brick & mortar locations to mutual benefit.
Barnes and Noble had really well thought out in-store technology that allowed ebook sales integrated with a physical location. They should have spun it off and licensed the shit out of it; every Starbucks and airplane could've been a Barnes and Noble.
Reality is shopping sucks. Taking the time to go to a special building to buy an object needs to be worth that time either by making it cheaper or by offering something one can't get clicking "add to cart" that makes it worthwhile.
Cheaper is nearly impossible.
Choosing clothing in a store means you can try it on, buying food in the shop means you can choose ripe produce, buying yarn you can feel the texture. Those are incentives.
Bookshops need an incentive beyond "We sell objects!"
Physical bookshops can't compete by being cheaper or more convenient than Amazon or having better selection; they can compete by offering an experience Amazon doesn't, by creating a space people want to visit and spend time.
Very few of the independent bookstores I've been in do this. Most often they're cramped, there's nowhere to sit, and being in them feels awkward and intrusive.
If browsing books in a shop is less pleasant than doing it online, why put on pants?
A bookstore can be the most amazing bookstore in the world, it can do everything right in terms of being a place people *want* to spend time and money, but if they can't or won't sell books in the form readers want to buy, it doesn't matter.
Publishing and bookselling is a weird business; especially the fetish around printed matter, as if every mass market paperback is a sacred object. (While pulping something like 70% of them.)
I think it must be that publishing/bookselling as an industry tends to be technology resistant/illiterate; there's no other reason in an AR era when I can hunt invisible monsters all over the world using my phone, I can't buy an ebook from a bookshop I'm physically standing in.
That's so weird to me.
And it's so weird that booksellers who look at someone reading on a Kindle & resent it don't understand the problem isn't that ebooks exist; it's that they don't sell them. #bsxp
I love reading and I love ebooks. A good e-ink reader was my flying car. Except we made them! They're real! I have one!
Being able to walk around with a single "book" that can hold more books inside than I can read in a dozen lifetimes is the future I dreamed of as a child. If a genie had popped out of a lamp, I'd have wished for a magic book that could be any and all books.
So I don't understand book people hating on ebooks. They're nigh on motherfucking magic as far as I'm concerned. #bsxp
@frankiesaxx i mean, being realistic here, the problem for them is pretty much that ebooks and amazon exist.
i think you're right there's _probably_ no reason for physical shops not to enable those purchases, but all the same bookstores will for the most part cease to exist in the world except inasmuch as they tap the physical place / physical goods desires of people who like _books as objects_, and i don't think the people running them are under a whole lot of illusions about why that is.
@brennen That genie isn't going back in the bottle though.
There's a food import shop in my town. Nothing I can't order online or buy in a closer shop. Soda, dry pasta, candy etc. But they have a nice setup with aesthetic displays, good location near two restaurants and an indoor plaza. A couple nights a week they reopen after hours as a microbar mixing their own cocktails.
They sell food I can get lots of places. But in a way that makes it worth a trip to *their* store.
@frankiesaxx this strikes me as an actual good use for QR codes.
(another one, I think, would be for sharing articles you read in print on social media. Often I want to share an article from one of the free dailies but have to go to their site, look it up, copy the link, etc.…)
@frankiesaxx I enjoy my e-reader, but I still think paper books are the superior technology. They're easier on the eyes and don't need electricity. But I'm not a "real books are better" snob. I don't really understand people who are.
@ink_slinger I wouldn't know where to store all those books if they'd be paper ones. Bookshelves aren't cheap, or portable :) The only thing I miss on an e-reader is leafing through an old book and reading the notes I took. I've never felt that urge on an e-reader.
@myrmidex I tend to borrow books from the library more often than I actually buy them, so long-term storage is less of a problem. But, by the same token, lack of storage is part of what attracted me to e-books in the first place. Until recently, I've always lived in very small homes with not much storage space.
@ink_slinger Exactly, giving up half of the living room to books you never re-read becomes tiring fast :) The library! I enjoyed it immensely as a kid, but once the Internet came along, with its Gutenberg Project and torrent sites, I've never looked back. Although I occasionally enter a library it's rather for a quiet place to work or the beautiful architecture than for taking home a book.
@ink_slinger I find e-ink displays and paper about the same on the eyes. Not needing electricity is an advantage - tho most of the times I'm without electricity, the weight of the paper is also a factor. (Though I'd rather a paperback get ruined than my ereader. ;)
Generally I tend to look at paper like vinyl for music. For certain books or favorite authors it's nice to have a beautiful hardback edition for the shelf. (But I'll probably have it in ebook too for comfort & convenience.)
@frankiesaxx That's a good approach. For a book I'll only read once, but can't find at the library, I'll probably go for the e-book (cheaper and easier to store). If it's something I'll read often, or has lots of visuals, I'll buy a hard copy.
My e-reader is also pretty old. New screens are probably better.
@ink_slinger New screens are really nice. Yeah I like art books... like Kickstarter edition graphic novels I usually go for a hardcover. (I do read comics on my tablet but some artists I think it's worth it.) Also books by friends, signed copies, etc.
@ink_slinger One of the things I love with my ereader is being able to search the text when I can only remember a couple words from a line I want to find again. And I love that I can highlight and create bookmarks for pages I want to come back to later. I think I have a deeper dialogue with books I read on the device. If that makes sense. It probably sounds weird.
@frankiesaxx No, that makes sense. I do that a lot, too.
@frankiesaxx I know! That's exactly what I think too. I don't understand the hate.
@_knives_out_ I mean I think it's fine to have a preference - we all do - but I don't think one is somehow morally superior to the other.
Being judgmental and snooty about the form of book a reader prefers seems especially counterproductive for a bookseller, though.
But I guess somewhere there's also probably some bookseller who refuses to deal in mass market paperbacks because only hardcovers are "real books".
@frankiesaxx that's kinda scary to hear that people are so judgemental about ebooks. I wrote a novel and it took me 3.5 years. I can't afford to physically publish it, so ebook it is. I already assume people will judge a self-published author, but it sucks to hear it.
@frankiesaxx that's awesome. Thanks!
@frankiesaxx “The books were crystals with recorded contents. They can be read the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it.”
— Stanisław Lem, “Return from the Start”, a novel, 1961.
@frankiesaxx A typo: the novel is named “Return from the Stars”.
@frankiesaxx I measurably started reading more when I got a good ebook reader than with paper books.
Personally I like to lay down when I read and ebook readers' "slate" form factor is much better suited for this than paper books' "folding" form factor.
@frankiesaxx Also I forgot to say my ebook reader has a backlight which completely changed reading for me as well.
@frankiesaxx I've got a few thousand books and papers on the device I'm typing this on right now (a tablet, not an e-Ink device). I _do_ appreciate being able to haul around a fair-sized library, seriously.
* Quality of books varies tremendously.
* I'm partial to PDFs for the spatial consistency. "Liquid flow" docs lose me.
* It is /much/ slower navigating through ebooks than paper.
* The inconsistency of annotations and highlighting is ... annoying.
* Organising it all is a lost cause.
@frankiesaxx I've yet to find a large-format eInk device, though I'm looking.
The process of generating eBooks from hardcopy (I do a lot of research, it's necessary) is painful and long and slow and the results ... vary. (Mostly the OCR step that's still painful.)
Various software just sort of sucks in various and inconsistent ways. (I've ... written rants on this, if you're interested.)
For close study I still prefer hardcopy, though I make ample use of both formats.
@frankiesaxx they are so freaking good! I love that when I finish a book I can just start the next one because it’s already in my hand :)
@frankiesaxx I'll second that and pile on:
Amazon is amazing, stop whining. Only rich neighborhoods ever had bookstores; poor, uneducated places can't sustain them. I couldn't buy books before Amazon because I couldn't afford to get an adult to drive me that far.
By the time I was a parent, I lived in places that had bookstores and came to hate them. They stocked the kids' section with toys and distractions that kept reluctant readers from reading, so where's the experience I came to buy?
@HedgeMage I don't care for Amazon's corporate practices and I rarely buy from them BUT we also don't have a domestic Amazon; I don't know if that would change.
The thing about toys and games, I understand. Heh. I know they're higher margin than books but I also recall taking my niece into one when she was about 8 and having to be explicit and really firm that I would only pay for *books*.
@HedgeMage The library was my book mainstay as a kid. Even little towns have them. :)
@frankiesaxx I'd read everything in my tiny local library by the time I was 11 or so. We had an inter-library loan system, but other libraries looked down on us for being a poor, illiterate area and often wouldn't loan books to us even when they were contractually obligated to.
I nearly cried when I discovered Amazon (I was 13 or 14). It was the first time I had real access to books.
@HedgeMage That's amazing. We were lucky I think. The librarians at the one I visited most were always amazing and never batted an eye during any of my reading phases.
@frankiesaxx Our reference librarian was awesome... I should post the blog post I started to write about the fight she went through for me over The Art of Computer Programming (back when it was still a trilogy).
@HedgeMage You should! (I used to have that. Nice box set. *sigh*)
@frankiesaxx Honestly, they have some corners of severe dysfunction, but no more than is probably inevitable in an organization that size. On the whole, I think they do more good than bad, especially taking into account the things that they've given isolated and disadvantaged parts of America access to for the first time. I wouldn't be willing to work there, but as a consumer I'm a fan.
@HedgeMage That's true. My mom's disabled and lives in a rural location and I do use it to buy things for her because I can do it internationally (so many online companies still won't take foreign cards or ship to a different delivery address) and I know it will go to her door.
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