Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

June 19, 2007

eBooks, Good for sales or Bad?

Filed under: Books Related,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:00 PM

This is an age old question, with some of the copy right owners/groups suing Google for the alleged copyright infringement. The issue took a funnier (In a silly sort of way) turn recently where a couple of Book publishers decided to give ‘google a taste of its own medicine‘ .

Any ways thats not the topic for this discussion. Though while I like the prank I don’t agree with the concept. Stealing laptops is not the same as scanning books.

As most of the readers of this blog already know, I love reading and read books constantly. I also buy a lot of books because I want to be one of the first to read them. So what is my take on eBooks? are they good for sales or not? I think they are. I will use my own example as a case study. David Weber and Mercedes Lackey are a couple of my favorite authors and I have bought pretty much every books that the two of them have written so far. (And thats a lot of books). And you know what, I would have never even found the authors if Baen Free Library hadn’t made a couple of their books available for free. I found them while I was searching for good Sci-Fi books to read and I liked their writing style so the next time I was in a book store I looked for them and over the course of a year ended up buying most of their books. Now I wait for their new books to come out. So did Baen loose a sale because I downloaded a free book? I don’t think so, infact they gained a whole lot of sales because I ended up buying books that I wouldn’t have other wise.

eBooks are easy to search through so if I need to find a particular quote that I liked but can’t remember which of the books it was from I can use a search to find it. In a dead tree version (Hardcopy books) I can’t do that, I have to search through the whole book manually which takes a lot of time. So if a publisher allows their books to be scanned then anyone searching for a particular kind of book will have a higher chance of finding their books than they would if they hadn’t allowed the books to be scanned.

Another advantage of a eBook is that you can sell it anywhere in the world without having to worry about postage/shipping etc. I love Sci-Fi books but in India its hard to find Science Fiction books in most major books stores (Atleast the ones I have been to so far) the most they have for Science Fiction is the latest Robin Cook. So if I want to read the latest books I have to either wait to get back to the US or have someone ship me the books that I bought online. Or I can purchase the ebook that I can download instantly and read. So even if they are loosing a couple of thousand sales because they made the book available online they are opening up the market to a few million people that would buy the book if they had access to it and now thanks to the internet they do have access.

So I think its silly how the book industry is in an uproar about illegally scanned books and digital books. Make samples available for free, allow readers to search through it, and guess what? if the book is good, it will sell.

And the most important advantage of ebooks is this: its digital, so it won’t fade out or get destroyed in a fire. Its always going to be there for the future generations. If a particular book is the last remaining copy then almost no one can read it, because it will probably end up in a collection somewhere where it is really difficult to get access to it. Now on the other hand if the book is available digitally then it can be copied an unlimited times, so anyone can read the book without harming the original hardcopy which can remain safe in the collection.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

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