December 13th, 2010 / 11:59 am
Random & Technology

e-books all calorie suck

E-book assassin, etc. My first response was falling sky, or I am sick of people saying the e-book will garrote the book book. But then I read the article and found several points for possible discussion here:

1.      Was the indie bookstore having troubles anyway? The e-book might be gaseous, but maybe the canary died from starvation?

2.      One complaint is about “browsing.” You’ll do your browsing online, then just drop by the brick/mortar store and get the book you already know you want. You won’t browse at the store. To me, if you enter the store, all is good. Who cares why/how you entered?

3.      But people sell their books online now, so don’t enter a used store to sell, and therefore another opportunity missed to buy.

4.      Google ebooks allows indie bookstores to join/not beat the future.

5.      All the ebooks in the world aren’t going to replace the “space” of a bookstore, readings, signings, coffee, conversation….

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  1. Nick Mamatas

      It’s almost definitional that the people with sufficient business sense to properly run an independent bookstore decide to do something else with their investment capital instead.

      Ebooks can have an impact on used bookstores if the stores in question had tons of people who were buying either recent backlist romance or tons of classics in the public domain (two big vectors of ebook sales and used bookstore sales), but given that most other books one would likely find in a used store aren’t even available in electronic formats, it’s probably just an overenthusiastic headline writer. One might as well have written, “Boy Scouts Go Online; Leave Used Bookstores to Wilt.”

  2. Sean

      Yeh, I didn’t write this. I’m in a huge block. I paid someone else (in beer), and I should have told them about the number thing.

  3. deadgod

      e-book controversy provoked you to count one at a time in one direction??

  4. Vaughan

      I see that bookstores have now found their bogeyman to blame – “E-books! It’s e-books what did for us, guv’nor! Them newfangled modern things with their electronicky bits ‘n pieces! We should march to the e-book store and burn it down!” It’s like the Industrial Revolution all over again.

      Maybe if the store had just sold more books, eh? Harsh but fair.

      Like you, I’m entirely fed up of the e-book versus paper book argument. They co-exist at the moment, and can continue to co-exist happily. If anything is going to make the situation worse it’s the extremists on both sides – those dressed in Star Trek outfits dreaming of a gleaming modern future without old-fashioned niceties such as print, and the luddites shouting “Burn the heathen machines!” on the other.

  5. Sean

      Yeh, I didn’t write this. I’m in a huge block. I paid someone else (in beer), and I should have told them about the number thing.

  6. Gaelle

      I’m sick of seeing people on the subway “reading” those horrible ebooks. A book is more than the story it tells, you have to smell it, touch it, feel it. The book as an object is, I think, at least as beautiful as the text itself.

  7. Owen Kaelin

      …And just how is the small press doing, compared to how it was doing 15, 20 years ago? How is the author doing?

      I dunno; it seems to me that what’s happened is that, because of Amazon especially, people are simply better informed about what books and authors and the sorts of books and authors that are out there. I would think that this would mean that stores which offer a small and very, very general selection of books do not sell very many books other than, say, Harry Potter or America or Monarch’s Notes or fun calendars at Xmas time. Which makes me think that if you own a bookstore and you want to survive in the current climate: you need to find a niche. You need to find out what you’re truly interested in, and specialize. Run all the way down into the depths of that specialization. Amazon will kill every vanilla bookstore, in time, just by being there. Methinks the best way to survive is to offer people not a general selection that they can find literally anywhere — and cheaper on Amazon — but to offer them a whole bunch of titles they would likely not have seen otherwise.

      That’s my thinking. I’m sure Jim Cummings knows infinitely more about the issues of bookselling than I do, but, like Vaughan said above, I sense a blame-game, here. Bookselling is a tough business. If you fail, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but don’t blame e-books just because you’ve failed.

      Probably like nearly everyone here, whenever I’m in a strange neighborhood and I see a bookstore I feel drawn there magnetically. I have to go in. But I can’t tell you how many bookstores I’ve walked into, walked about and walked right out of again because they simply didn’t have anything that drew my attention. I’m sure everyone else here can share the same story.

      I was never really ‘worried’ about e-books. They’re great for what they can offer, they have their place. They cannot take the place of the physical product because… well.. as we can all testify, there’s an alien aspect to e-books, you can’t touch the words, feel the words, curl up with them . . . in short, the e-book is not real. And if it did make the printed book obsolete — like CD’s to vinyl (although vinyl has hardly disappeared, mind you) — then there’d be nothing to complain about, much less wring our hands over.

      Suggesting that “books are a little passé” is like suggesting that CD’s are a little passé just because we can listen to music on our computers or on our ipods. CD stores are doing just fine. Newbury Comics (they sell mostly music, for those who aren’t familiar) is always crowded. Not because of the breadth of their selection but because they specialize.

      Okay, rant over.