Confessions Of An E-Book Discriminator

Now that I’ve got you here, I’ll warn you the following paragraph is boring. But the post gets better. Or not.

I recently read in USA Today that for the first time, “revenue from the sale of e-books has outstripped revenue from hardcover sales.” During the first quarter of 2012, adult e-book sales totaled $282.3 million, while hardcover sales netted $229.6 million. Paperback revenue was $299.8 million, which, although higher than e-books, was down 10.5%. Furthermore, in the third week of June, 19 of the top 50 books on USA Today’s best-seller list sold more in e-book format than print.

Good. Signing with an e-publisher sits better. I wrote an invisible post on the subject back in December, entitled “Every Which Way But Traditional.” Well, at least that blog-hopping mushroom head saw it.

Despite this chapeau feather for e-books, I realized something strange about myself. Shocker, I know. I’m finicky when it comes to downloads, and judging by my iPad Kindle contents, thrillers and new releases top my purchases. But non-fiction? No way, bidet. I likes me a print copy.

Pretend the writer of this post is this young and cute.

Perhaps it’s because I overdo the dog-ears and markings in the non-fiction genre. The number of notes littering my copy of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking could spawn an entire manuscript. Apparently, I’m the reader who can’t quit penciling.

Classics suffer my e-book cold shoulder as well. At the suggestion of Perfecting Motherhood, I read Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Though not one for classics, I’m open to new things (yeah, right). I toyed with downloading the Kindle edition. For a nanosecond. Then I headed to the library for a well-read copy and relished its stained (hey, is that pizza sauce?) and tattered pages instead.

So there you have it; I am an e-book-discriminator. If the novel is new, and particularly a thriller, I’ll download it. If it’s non-fiction or a classic, I won’t.

Now that makes sense…

What about you? Are you an e-book-discriminator? Are you a bit slow—er, I mean, busy—and still don’t have an e-reader (I’m talking to you JM)?  Are you the one that left pizza sauce in my library book? Well, let’s hope it was pizza sauce…

Ooh, creepy pizza eaters…

Before I close, enjoy the latest Awful Offspring Offal, brought to you in a limited-edition, olfactory and visual format.

Awful Offspring Offal

While my youngest and I whooped it up in Las Vegas, Mr. Rubin and our oldest completed a 14-day backpacking trip. The trip included two showers. Total. Their arrival home concludes the olfactory portion of this offal.

As for the visual, my teenager sent me this image captured in Colorado, before they trudged to New Mexico. Lovely, isn’t it? Who knew he had it in him?

He named it: “Two Penises.”

“Two Penises”

Images from Microsoft Clip Art. Except for “Two Penises.” That credit’s all my son’s.

158 Responses to “Confessions Of An E-Book Discriminator”

  1. Anastasia

    I’m back, at least for now, and starting with my favorite blog (not just because I only have to catch up on 7 of yours, as opposed to the fecund Promethean’s 15…lol).

    Am I an ebook debater? Well, I certainly wouldn’t buy a coffee table book as an ‘e. Fo sho. So, is that an answer? :)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      So there you are! Welcome back. I just found all of your comments now. They went into my spam. Guess WordPress is punishing you. I’m honored you’d come by and read all of my posts, not to mention comment on them. You are a class act.
      :)

      Like

      • Anastasia

        Thats nice, thanks! :) Spam? That’s odd. Maybe I’ve been hacked! I actually go through my email, write down each persons blog and the number of how many I’m behind (so I can delete the notification emails – makes me feel less behind) and methodically go through them. Starting with yours, natch. I don’t want to miss anything! :) Keep writing!

        Like

  2. Ann Marquez

    I’ll have to return to read all of the comments. That’s interesting about your preference. I’d like to see honest to God real stats on self-published e-book sales from the honest to God authors. I have a problem with “virtual” inventories if you get my drift. ;)

    Like

  3. susan sheldon nolen

    I’m torn on the whole subject. I do prefer hardbacks for serious reference work. I just find them easier to handle, travel…ebooks fiction or non fiction…with the weight restrictions on airlines, it just makes sense. Serious fiction, I want a hard copy to keep in my library as I love the feel and smell of a real book. There’s just something solid about it. Beach reads..kindle maybe but what does sand do to a kindle? ;-)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I’ve never tried to read my Kindle on the beach. It kind of seems like an oxymoron in a way, but that’s probably the old-fashioned me talking. I wonder if they’ll make a water-proof Kindle for the bath tub? On the rare occasions I get to enjoy a bath, I always bring a book. So, I guess there are times where the paper will always be preferred.
      :)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

  4. Fay Moore

    My darling girl, you are BRAVE. OMG – those stains you politely refer to as pizza sauce could be god knows what when that book has been publicly circulating. And heaven forbid the library is located downtown: the patrons frequently include persons sans abodes, thus exposing tomes to the daily rummaging of unwashed hands (think awful and offal). Yes, god knows what that pizza sauce really is.

    (If I am being successful here, your medical background should have you squealing through the hallway, plastic bag in one hand to grasp those dirty library books and a can of Lysol in the other to de-germ them.

    NOTE: before I get hate mail for my inhumanity towards library patrons, this is HUMOR. A little sick, a lot borderline, but humor nonetheless.

    Darling girl, you read any way you want to. Just don’t hold my hand. :-)

    Like

    • crubin

      You bring up a great point (in a humorous fashion), because I think of germs in everything I do, and yet I can overlook them in library books. That being said, if I find a hair? Oh, dear, I’m in for it there. Don’t like to find hairs in my books. See? I really am weird.
      :)

      Like

  5. Kourtney Heintz

    I’ll download super thick books to the e-reader for ease of travel reading, but I love a nice paper book to read in bed. I like the paper and the weight of the book. I’m a tad hesitant to download books only pubbed as e-books. I worry about the quality control.

    Like

    • crubin

      I think travel is one of the biggest advantages to e-books. That and cost. Although I have a nice mixture, I don’t see paper books disappearing from my future anytime soon.
      :)

      Like

  6. Diane Henders

    I download “expendable” fiction on my Kindle. If I think I might like it, but I’m not sure… e-book. Then if I love it, I buy the hard copy. I still don’t quite trust electronics enough and I still enjoy the sensory experience of reading “a book” too much to go entirely e-book. But I do love my Kindle when I’m travelling. Gone are the days of trying to cram 8 – 10 books in my suitcase for a one-week trip. :-)

    Like

    • crubin

      Wow, authors must love you! If you like the e-book you may buy the paper copy. A double duty.
      :)

      It’s hard to let go of that sensory experience of holding a “real” book in your hands, and hopefully, as long as we keep reading to our children, they won’t have to either.
      :)

      Like

  7. Valentine Logar

    I love books, real books. I know I am showing my age (old) but I will always love the feel and smell of books. I love the way the look on the shelves of my library too. I have however learned to parse my books into categories;

    Research: e-reader, this makes it easier to make notes and find them again.
    Classics: I suspect mine are different I am always on the look out for classics on government, economics, philosophy, etc. I haunt used book stores for these in hardback and snap them up when I find them.
    Favorite Authors: same as above, I have a few that I love and that I have entire sets of their books. I often will re-read them. Sometimes I am missing early books I search for them, search Amazon, used book stores. If I find them in hardback I am in paradise, but I will buy in paperback if they are in decent shape.

    Then there is just the idea of reading. I like to hold books. I don’t often buy a newly released hardback, it is a waste of money unless it is to complete a set I already have (not many). But I will stock up on paperbacks and contentedly read through them. Amazon and I have a love affair. The half price book store and I have torrid affair, they love me when I arrive with two huge boxes of well loved books and leave with more books (they never have to give me cash).

    Like

    • crubin

      Like you, I prefer paper format for books by my favorite authors, and for some, I will even splurge on the hard cover, because I’m so excited to read it. It’s interesting that you find your books for research easier to use in e-book form. It is convenient to take notes and highlight on the e-reader, but to me, it still seems easier to do this in paper format. I imagine it’s like everything, though. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get with it.

      I wish we had a half-priced bookstore near us. I used to have one close by, and it was great. But I love my library, too. There’s something wonderful about walking out with a big stack of books.
      :)

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      Like

  8. subtlekate

    There will always be books I will want the 3D copy of, and a lot of them are non fiction. Here in Australia, books are hideously expensive and the e book is a fraction of the price, plus I can get it immediately and at home. If I love the book, I will get the hard version too. I think e-books have made reading accessible to many more people, including those who love tech. I’m a fan of it and as long as I can keep reading, bring it on.

    Like

    • crubin

      You bring up a great point–the immediate accessibility of e-books. If a new release comes out, and I read a review on it and feel I must have it now, I can download it to my iPad Kindle and have it in seconds. We’re quite spoiled in that regard, I guess. Plus, as you mention, much cheaper than the hard cover.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  9. Carol Wuenschell

    Just got my e-reader, so I couldn’t tell you yet, though I think if anything were really a “keeper”, I’d buy in in hard-copy. I also do believe that it would be a very bad thing if physical books went out altogether in favor of electronically stored information. What happens when the power goes out? When the solar flares interfere? We do so many things that make our civilization more fragile. No physical books is about the worst idea I can think of in that regard.

    Like

    • crubin

      Such a good point. When it storms, I worry we’ll lose power, and I won’t be able to get any work done. So much of what I do revolves around my computer. Even when I was working in my job, electronic records were used. We’re really at the mercy of technology. Plus, it’s nice to have a paper book for those moments on the plane where electronic devices can’t be used. Though I guess there’s always the skymall catalog.
      :)

      Like

  10. Main Street Musings Blog

    I bought my Kindle because I thought it would be convenient for travel yet I rarely take it on vacations because I’m afraid I’ll leave it on the plane!

    Like

    • crubin

      You’ll have to put a string on it and wear it around your neck. Think how cool you’ll look.
      :)

      Like

  11. Jennifer Worrell

    I have gone completely ebook. I haven’t bought a print book in forever. I do feel a little wistful for the smell of a new book though:(

    Like

    • crubin

      Wow, you really are a convert! Impressive. But you’ll have to take a stroll in the library to get that smell you’ve been missing out on.
      :)

      Like

      • Jennifer Worrell

        I always sniff the books when I open the monthly school book order box. I’m kinda weird in case you hadn’t figured that out already:)

        Like

        • crubin

          Ha ha–just don’t let the students catch you. They’ll think you’re a huffer.

          Like

  12. IGJ

    There is nothing like holding a book in my hands and reading it off somewhere, in a corner. I know that the e-books are a brilliant idea, however I’m addicted to the full texture of the book. Give me a book and a glass of wine, and I’m in “Happy Land.”

    Like

    • crubin

      Hmmm, I suspect that glass of wine has something to do with that “Happy Land” feeling. But I hear you. Only I like to settle in with chocolate in place of the wine.
      :)

      Like

  13. emma

    Read the earlier post and it gave me pause for thought. E-book publishing? Hmmm. I’m still stuck in the dark ages when it was so not politically correct to publish on your own. Maybe I should pull me head out of the wastelands? Anyway, this post is interesting, too, as I still have my head in the wastelands about e-books. (I’m considering one for travel, as that makes complete sense — I lugged a ton of books to Italy last trip and as I finished them, I left them on hotel book shelves. Left room for trinkets coming home.) I never buy hardbacks anymore. They cost as much as a house payment! Besides, I tend to batter my books, folding pages, bending spines and spilling pizza sauce on them. I read everywhere and they are just easier.

    Like

    • crubin

      Hey, thanks for actually reading that earlier post! Nice to have another “like” there.
      :)

      An e-book publisher is not synonymous with self-publishing, though. I’m not self-publishing. I signed a contract with a publisher. I will have print copies as well, but the bulk of their products are e-books.

      Like you, I rarely buy hardcovers unless they’re on the $5.99 table at the bookstore. When a new release comes out, I can download the Kindle version for a fraction of the price. But alas, I can’t feel those books in my hand and tatter their pages.
      :)

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

    • crubin

      Thanks! I think I’ll keep them, even with their love of human anatomy jokes.
      :)

      Like

  14. David Stewart

    With technology like this, I’m usually leery of it until I try it and then I like it. I do like my Kindle, although there are some books (non-fiction) I’d rather have in print. Plus, I realize I don’t value e-books the same. I download the freebies, but when I see an e-book for $14, especially one that’s been out a while, I can’t bring myself to pay that much for a computer file.

    Like

  15. Berducci

    Although I have a tablet reader and have down-loaded a few books, I still prefer buying and reading a paperback, especially for the classics and best sellers. I find a tablet reader is hard to share.

    Like

    • crubin

      True, an e-reader is not as easy to pass around. Which for those who don’t like to share, may be a bonus.
      ;)

      Like

  16. whiteladyinthehood

    Great post Crubin! I’m old-school..I love the actual book and for all the above reasons…but, I have to tell you the truth – I’ve never looked at an e-book (maybe I should give it a try!)

    Like

    • crubin

      Well, they’re cheaper, they take up less space, and you can travel with as many as you want. But still, it’s awfully nice to hold the real thing.
      :)

      Like

  17. butimbeautiful

    I download classics – they’re free!! I laughed at the two penises – I hope I never see penises that look like that!

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes, those are two very deformed penises. Apparently, anything remotely phallic shaped is fair game.

      As for the classics, I didn’t realize some of them were free. You may have just sold me!

      Like

  18. Polly Robinson

    I love ebooks for fiction, love the way you can download them to all devices … but like you Carrie, I don’t like them for non-fiction, educational textbooks in particular need, for me, to be in hard copy … a preference only, but a strong one still.

    Your son is ace.

    Like

    • crubin

      The e-reader has really saved my bookshelves, too. They are crowded enough, and although a collection of books is nice to have, at some point, one wants to reduce the clutter.

      As for my son, I guess this is what I get for insisting on teaching them the proper names of anatomy when they were young…

      Like

  19. writerwendyreid

    I am cheap and since ebooks are cheaper, this is the version I get. In fact I’m SO cheap, I usually wait for free kindle books. :-)

    Like

    • crubin

      Seems like a good plan! Though I doubt those best-selling authors are going to be giving their e-books away for free.
      :)

      But I agree. For a new release, $7 for an e-book is much cheaper than a $25 hard cover.

      Like

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