I really like my Sony eBook reader, but I won’t deny that I sometimes find myself thinking “I’d like to have this book sitting on a shelf” or “this would be a fun book to thumb through randomly” or most commonly “I wish I could set this thing on the floor and not worry about the kids stepping on it or throwing it across the room”.
I have yet to buy an eBook since I received my reader. I’ve stuck to free eBooks such as public domain works (70+ years since the author died) and relatively new books released free in electronic form by publishers (also, THIS HANDSOME FRIEND OF MINE utilizes the questionable practice of downloading pirated eBooks off the Internet because “it’s barely different than checking out a physical book from the library”).
The problem with buying eBooks is that they’re rarely/barely cheaper than a paperback (they’re usually cheaper than a hardcover if you’re buying from the Kindle Store or Sony eBook Store). Why should I pay more for a digital copy that costs nothing to make and barely pennies to send? This is not a problem with the technology, this is 100% a problem with the publishers. I think eBooks should cost around $5. That’s enough of a savings for more people to say “Ok, I’m giving up some of the convenience/aesthetic of a paper book, but the convenience of an eBook coupled with this great price makes it totally worth it”.
It addition to simply lowering eBook prices (which is undeniably a no-brainer), I really think we need to see bundle prices for buying a paper book and its eBook version together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Publishers should include a DRM-free eBook version with every paper book they sell.
They won’t do this for some time I’m sure. Why do that when your most loyal, dedicated fans might pay you twice to have the book in two formats? I think it would be smart for publishers, as it would increase the sale of paper books, which they seem to prefer selling over eBooks despite the increased profit margins and easier (ie. nonexistent) distribution models for them.
I do expect the publishers will get in line eventually and start making the improvements we’re asking for (lower prices, no DRM, bundle discounts for getting paper book and eBook together). I’m just impatient.