The digital publishing world is one of the most schizophrenic marketplaces. Now, let me qualify that by saying: I work for a publisher. I help make print and digital books. I know the challenges and the limitations. That being said….
I just bought an iBooks ebook thinking: “I can read this immediately and on any of my devices, because Mavericks put iBooks right on my desktop. I’m living in the future!” But what was the first thing that greeted me upon opening my new eBook…
Ugh! Are you serious!? My suped-up laptop can’t do whatever it is this book was designed to do? This stinks. Ebooks have now grown into such a multi-headed enhanced hydra that they can no longer consistently deliver on what is one of the biggest perks of an eBook… instant access on multiple devices.
But too be honest all of my frustration (and this blog post) could have been avoided if the publisher had simply stated something along the lines of “best for iOS-only reading” in the product description or marketing copy or email promotion… anywhere.
So publishers… please… please… PLEASE… use your own books and see where your frustration lies. Chances are your “ugh!” will be the same one your readers will utter. So think of them and work harder on the book or take the time to be up front with your readers. They will all appreciate you more for it.
Here is a minute and 55 second trailer forOut of Print, a documentary that tries to capture what the digital shift is doing to books, businesses and cultures around the world. That’s a lot of ground to cover! But the lineup is pretty impressive. Narrated by Meryl Streep they talk with Jeff Bezos, authors Scott Turow and Ray Bradbury as well as elementary school teachers, bookstore owners and developmental psychology experts.
I’m hoping it’s balanced and not just “the sky is falling” or “print is dead”. The issue and trend is certainly more complicated and worth more level thought than the emotionally tainted headlines touted in the media these days. There are definitely pros and cons to be said of every step we take into the new digital world.
Regardless of where you think things stand in regards to the death of paper books, Out of Print looks to be a movie worth seeing. It’s certainly worth watching the trailer. Hopefully it’ll be online soon for rent or purchase as, like many of these indie movie deals, it’s not showing anywhere near Birmingham.
The publishers of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code have made all ebook versions of the book FREE until March 24, 2013. This promotion is partly to note the fact that the book is 10 years old and that Brown’s new book Inferno, ships in May 2013. These free ebooks all include a chapter from the upcoming Inferno book.
Here are some links to get your free copy on your preferred reading platform:
I buy 100% of my non-fiction as paper books and about half of my fiction as ebooks. This is because, when it comes to non-fiction, device makers have yet to consistently deliver a reading experience that comes close to paper when reading charts, graphs, maps, highlighting, writing in margins, etc.
I wanted to share this 16-second video as an example. I took it at a B&N while checking out the largest most expensive nook HD they had on display. So here I am flipping through their sample ebook of The Hobbit, viewing an inline graphic:
Do you know how frustrating that is? The screen actually goes black. . . every. . . time. Imagine what it’d be like trying to view a business book (logging 15 seconds just to see an image) with a gazillion charts or a travel guide with detailed neighborhood maps!? I know everyone is moving at a break neck speed and trying to keep up with formats, devices, standards, unlocking content, etc. but we’re all killing the book if we’re not openly honest about on which devices ebooks fail and where they work.
I bet publishers never thought they’d see themselves in the “customer service” field. But I know they’re getting more and more calls/emails from upset customers because their “book doesn’t look right”. Trust me when I say that reading a travel guide, a Kindle Fire customer will have a totally different experience from a Kindle Paperwhite customer. But the book gets a bad review all the same, even when it’s the device’s limitations. Someone should have helped that customer understand what they were getting when they bought the device as well as when they bought the book.
I hope publishers, device makers and device sellers will be more honest and open about what the eReaders and eBooks are good for and when a pound of paper yields the better user experience. No one wins when the reader is frustrated.