Thursday, January 24, 2008

eBook Buzz and Fright

If any book publishers still have their heads in the sand with regard to eBooks, it's really time for them pull them up!

I have two small anecdotes that underscore this:

1. Two nights ago, I ran into the proprietor of our local independent bookstore at (of all places) our local video store. I mentioned to him that I had a Kindle, and told him about my experiences thus far. He asked me to bring it in for him to see, but I could tell that he really doesn't want me to. He was visibly shaken when I mentioned how easy it was to download eBooks. His reaction was so strong it took my breath away. And, I could tell that he was trying to hide his reaction.

2. Today I had to come to NYC for meetings with clients. Whenever I come to the city, my local office is the nearest Starbucks, so that I can have wireless internet access. Today, I had the pleasure of residing in three different Starbucks for some period of time. IN ALL THREE, there was chatter going on around me about e-reading devices. Chatter to the positive and chatter to the negative - but none the less, there was a lot of chatter. Chatter that I've never heard before in any local office!

The book publishing industry is going through monumental change right now. e-Reading devices are becoming a mainstream conversation pieces. And, still only 90,000 books available for the Kindle when there are over 3,000,000 available in print?

What is that great sucking sound I hear? That is quite a vacuum being created. I think its the self publishers who will be filling the void if the big publishers don't get their acts together quickly.


DanPoynter said...


Not only are most of my books available as eBooks, I read a lot of eBooks. I am a publisher and a reader. That places me on both sides of publishing: as producer and consumer.

My speaking travels average some 6,000 miles each week. Yes, 6,000; I made five around-the-world speaking itineraries this year. (I have a home in Santa Barbara but live on United Airlines.) Traveling as light as possible, I do not carry printed books. Think about it, even for a short trip, you would have to carry two books—in case you finished one. For the past several years, I have read eBooks on my Pocket PC.

A Pocket PC is a multifunction device. Now I do not have to carry an address book, calendar, reference materials, paper books, etc.

Then something happened. In December I was home for a couple of weeks. I had a couple of mass-market paperback that I wanted to read. They were not available as eBook editions so I decided to read myself to sleep with one of them.

How awkward! With the printed book, you have to turn on the (bright) light. If you wake up in the middle of the night and decide to tire you eyes with reading, that light is dazzling! The eBook reader is back-lighted and very gentle.

As a world traveler, I have become used to reading my eBooks in a taxi at five in the morning. Light? No thanks, my (back-lighted) book comes with a light.

Holding a printed book (pBook) is awkward. It take two hands. Even a smaller mass market paperback is difficult. Have I been reading my Pocket PC with one hand too long?

Bookmark? How Twentieth century! I don’t need a book mark. Nor do I have to deface the book by dog-earing it. The eBook remembers where I stopped reading and opens to that page when I turn it back on.

Cost. The only reason I paid more for these pBooks is that they were not available as eBooks. I love these authors and have purchased everything they have written. How I wish all of their books were available electronically.

Type.. Why can’t I adjust the size to the glasses I am wearing? It is easy with an eBook reader.

Spelling. When not sure of a word in a pBook, I have to go find a dictionary. With my eBook, the dictionary is built-in.

Convenience. I can download eBooks from anywhere in the world. I do not have to visit a bookstore or have Amazon deliver it.

Disposal. I read a lot of books. What should I do with pBooks when I finish reading? My shelves are full.

Electronic books are a far superior platform to dead-tree books for numerous reasons. But let’s be practical. After trying both—extensively, I prefer to annoy electrons than cut down trees. This is not just an environmental concern, it is a practical reading concern.

I love eBooks.
--Dan Poynter, htp://

Fran Toolan said...


congratulations on your long and distinguished career. And, thank you for your comment. Hopefully, in all your talks, you can be a force for change in our beloved industry.

Book Publishing is under seige, and needs leaders willing to step up and carry us into the next generation.