From the app store to The Ripped Bodice: Romance reading at a glance #IndieMonth2017 #giveaway #BookBloggers
This is the last original post of #IndieMonth2017, and I wanted to end on an inclusive, conversational note. (Next time is the final post, a quick-access resource list of all the goodies from this month!)
Today’s article highlights my journey through various e-readers, reader apps, and bookstores, and poses some concerns about the future of the publishing industry and how authors’ (and readers’) freedom might be challenged in the years to come. Come on in, put your feet up, and leave a comment to add your thoughts to the conversation! This is your last chance to enter the Indie Month giveaways!
Weigh in on the e-reader vs app vs bookstore debate!
The rise of an ebook empire
We’re coming into a scary era in publishing, one where the company so central to rise of ebook popularity is the same controlling force behind many of today’s (and tomorrow’s) market trends and decisions. Yeah, you guessed it—Amazon. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate Amazon. I’m a Kindle girl myself. It’s just so darn convenient—Whispersync, emailing books to my device, instantaneous downloads and cheap prices. We didn’t have that kind of easy access in the good ole print days, when you literally camped out at your local bookstore to get that precious release-day copy of Harry Potter in hardback. So I love the technology advances and widespread adoption that has made the ebook format so popular, and I love that it has opened doors for indie authors to make a living without having to sign away their arms, legs, and children to a big, slow-moving publishing house. What I don’t love is that Amazon now essentially controls (or influences, at the very least) the whole book publishing space—electronic and paperback. Competition is a healthy thing, so let’s look at some of the options out there for ebooks and finding new reads!
Battle of the e-readers
Kindle, Nook, and Kobo are the big names in the e-reader space, although realistically, grouping anything with Kindle as a “big name” is subjective. I thought Kobo was a smaller player but I’ve seen more chatter about it in recent months. Each platform has its preferred book formats, so while Kobo supports both MOBI and EPUB, Kindle doesn’t support EPUB, and Nook doesn’t support MOBI. iBooks (by Apple) also doesn’t support Amazon’s MOBI format, using the open-standard EPUB instead. So let’s say you’ve built yourself this nice big Kindle library of ebooks but decide you want to move over to another reader type. You either have to re-buy your entire library in the new supported format, or you have to settle for a reader that will support your MOBI files. There’s always Calibre, of course (an ebook management tool that lets you convert file types), but a book’s formatting can turn out wonky after conversion, and moving your Amazon-bought books off your Kindle can be a real challenge (they’re encoded in weird ways that aren’t straightforward to just grab and move).
So while, yes, you can switch e-reader types, chances are….you won’t. What e-reader do you use? What do you love about it?
E-ink vs full-screen brilliance
I’ve used both the (old) second gen Kindle Fire and the (super old) Kindle Touch. I wasn’t a huge fan of either, mostly because I prefer a tablet or phone that can multi-task to an additional dedicated device I have to lug around. I did find, though, that each type had its pros and cons.
The Touch uses e-ink, which means it can be read in full daylight without glare, just like a real, physical book. That part was pretty cool, but honestly, I just don’t spend that much time outside. And if I were, say, lounging at the beach, I much rather have my phone so I can snap pictures and text friends funny quotes. Or, write a review in my Evernote app. The e-ink devices (as far as I know) are purely for reading—Amazon markets this as “no distractions”. So, no apps. I also found that the e-ink technology in my old Touch was sluggish. The page turn took a second to process after I touched the screen, and I’d touch it again just as it did turn, causing it to flip again. I found that those earlier models of the non-touch Kindles (with the arrow buttons) behaved the same pokey way. Maybe the newer generations of the technology are slicker, but the delay and the screen flicker were too annoying for me to use long term.
I did like the read-to-me feature. It was buried in Accessibility settings, but I could set the tablet to read the book to me. The voice was extremely robotic (I still sometimes think of the books it read to me and associate RoboVoice with those poor, unfortunate authors. So sorry, Tymber Dalton! 😉 ), but, hey! I didn’t have to buy audiobooks! I believe the read-to-me functionality was removed from the later models of Kindles. Which I find strange, because it’s not like Accessibility laws became any less strict…did they?
Apps to the rescue
So it didn’t take me long to realize I’m really more of an app reader kind of gal. I’ve used iPhones and Androids over the years, and I’ve tried the iBooks, Nook, and Kindle mobile apps, and Kindle is by far my favorite. My library is too extensive at this point to move over to another ecosystem, even if I wanted to. That aside, the convenience of having my reader right there on my phone alongside my notes app, my email, my socials… my life… makes everything easier. I don’t mind the distractions, and if I want peace I’ll just tune everything else out. Or read a paperback. Of which I have far too many. I somehow collect these things faster than I can give them away. *boggled*
So what’s your poison? App or dedicated e-reader? Or are you a paperback holdout?
Brick by brick
The rise of ebooks brought tough times for brick-and-mortar bookstore chains. Some of the largest have been able to survive (like Barnes&Noble), but they’re hurting. And many of the mom-and-pop style local bookstores have had to close their doors. It really makes me sad. There’s no experience like walking into a room literally filled with books and…just…breathing. Breathing in the smell of pages and dreams and hopes. Bookstores inspire sense memories of possibility and escape in a way that no army of e-readers with new-book-smell air fresheners could ever mimic.
Bookstores inspire sense memories of possibility and escape in a way that no army of e-readers with new-book-smell air fresheners could ever mimic.
But there IS hope! The Ripped Bodice in LA is America’s first exclusively romance book store. And owners Leah and Bea Koch have set up a lovely, feminine space that welcomes readers who love a genre that is often criticized and ostracized in regular bookstores. I haven’t had a chance to visit the Ripped Bodice yet, but you can bet that on my next trip to LA I will DEFINITELY be dropping in for a little quality bookstore time. And I’ll post pics and a write up for you guys!
Have you been to the Ripped Bodice? What did you think?
Do you still visit physical stores like B&N or do you shop primarily online now? And have you heard about Amazon’s new foray into the bookstore space? Bringing this article back full circle… Is anyone else disturbed by what Amazon may be doing with their new physical bookstores, and how they could manipulate an already strangled market?
These are open to US & international readers! Leave a comment on today’s post, then fill out the prize widgets below to enter to win these fantastic prizes! Not sure what to chat about? Here are a few prompts to get you started…
- What e-reader do you use? What do you love about it?
- E-ink vs full color? Which is your go-to e-reader?
- So what’s your poison? App or dedicated e-reader? Or are you a paperback holdout?
- App stores or bookstores?
- Have you been to The Ripped Bodice? What did you think?
Sponsored by author BA Tortuga ($25 Amazon gift card!)
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