This infographic showing the 40-year history of e-books, courtesy of Piotr Kowalczyk at Password Incorrect, is a fitting conclusion to Read an E-Book Week.
In his post Hey, It’s Read an E-book Week, George Angus mentioned that he is starting a new series to tell the stories of e-published authors. Though I responded to George, I decided my story was so long, it would be appropriate as a post during Read an E-Book Week.
My first novel was a romance novel about a woman who had a stroke. I got rejection after rejection saying that a romance couldn’t have a handicapped heroine. Finally, I was at a conference and had the chance to pitch my book to an editor for a big New York romance publisher. At the time I was still in a wheelchair as a result of my own stroke. The editor looked at my wheelchair, then looked me in the eye and said, “No one wants to read about a cripple.” At that point, I put the manuscript away and decided it would never be published, as I described in Is an E-Book a Real Book?
A year or so later, in the fall of 1999, a writer friend emailed me that she had heard of a new e-publisher who was seeking manuscripts featuring disabled central characters. This company was looking for exactly what everyone else told me was impossible.
I knew almost nothing about e-books back then. I had listened to a presentation by one of the first authors published by one of the new e-publishing companies, but I hadn’t bothered to learn any more. I had never seen an e-book when I submitted my story to a publisher I’d never heard of.
However, I was so excited that someone was interested in a handicapped heroine that I sent an email query as soon as I read my friend’s message. I got a response within a few minutes requesting the complete manuscript. In a couple of days, I had an offer of publication. Quite a difference from the response of traditional publishers.
Now, let me insert here that I don’t advise other people to jump into a publishing deal with as little due digilence (NONE) as I did. I was very fortunate to hook up with a good company, but that usually doesn’t happen.
The first e-book reader came out around the time my book was released. A group of e-book published authors did a book tour of Hastings electronic stores. Our books came on floppy disks in jewel cases, and we signed the insert in the jewel case. Most of our time was spent explaining what the disks were and demonstrating our Rocket readers.
“Yes, these little disks are really books.”
“Yes, you can read them on your computer. Or you can read them on this nifty device called a Rocket eBook reader.”
“No, they don’t smell like print books or look like print books or feel like print books—but they are books!”
I joined EPIC, an online organization to promote the e-publishing industry, and gave talks to local writers groups about e-publishing.
And we e-authors and e-publishers looked forward to the day when we wouldn’t have to explain what an e-book was, when people would know what an e-reader was.
We talked about e-books and we wrote about e-books, including the following posts I’ve written here on this blog:
Answers to a Writer’s Questions, Part 2: Children’s Book on CD
Answers to a Writer’s Questions, Part 3: Marketing a Children’s E-Book
Dream or Destiny and the Kindle
E-Books, Part 1: I read throughout a four-hour power outage(/a>E-Books, Part 2: Short Nonfiction (How-To) E-Books
E-Books, Part 3: Books from Electronic or Traditional Publishers
E-Books, Part 4: Electronic Reading Devices
Blog Action Day: Publishing and the Environment
Free E-Books for Read an E-Book Week 2009
Free E-Books for Read an E-Book Week 2010
More Free E-Books
The Growing E-Book Market
Read an E-Book Week
Read an E-Book Week 2
Read an E-Book Week Coming Soon
Read an E-Book Week Next Week
Reminder: Read an E-Book Week
Self-Publishing Primer: Part 13 – Do I need a Web site and should I make my book available as an e-book?
What Will the Kindle Do for the E-Publishing Industry?
In the last post in the above list in late 2007, I said:
What I really like about the Kindle is the attention it is bringing to e-books. I believe that Amazon.com getting involved in the industry and Jeff Bezos personally promoting the product will have a positive impact on the future of e-publishing. No, I don’t expect e-books to replace print books soon (or ever, for that matter), but I do think many people who haven’t considered e-books will take a closer look because of all the attention the Kindle is getting.
My prediction has come to pass. Today Amazon sells more Kindle editions that paperback or hardcover books. When people see me reading on my Kindle, they don’t ask what it is—instead they tell me they have one or they want one or they’re thinking about getting one or they read e-books on a iPad or an iPhone or a Nook or a <insert the name of any of a variety of devices>.
My first novel is still available electronically—although from a different publisher; I have another novel available both in print and electronic formats; and I have self-published several e-books through Smashwords.
The big New York publishers are publishing e-books along with print books. Small e-publishers are publishing print books along with e-books.
Authors and readers have choices. Some books work well in either format. Others are more appropriate for one or the other. Beautiful art books, for example, work best in print. Books that are either very short (as my how-to e-books) or very long are better suited for e-books.
The world of publishing is a lot different than it was when my first book was published electronically in 1999. I might call myself a pioneer in e-publishing, but then I look at the history of e-books and realize Michael Hart had created the first “e-book” twenty-eight years before my novel was released.
Read an E-Book Week, which I introduced in an earlier post, is here.
To celebrate Read an E-Book Week, you can download a free PDF copy of Fern’s Fancies here. Or visit Smashwords for another format of Fern’s Fancies or any of the free or discounted books available there.
On the Read an E-Book Week website, you will find:
Don’t forget that the following are always free here:
Are you an avid e-book reader? Then stock up on great books while they’re free or discounted.
Have you never read an e-book? Then look for titles that appeal to you and read an e-book this week. Let me know what you think!
Read an E-Book Week has been celebrated every March since 2004. The purpose of the week-long event is to educate readers about e-books and promote electronic reading.
This year, Read an E-Book Week is celebrating the 40th anniversary of e-books. You can read about Michael Hart creating the first “e-book”—a copy of the Declaration of the Independence—in 1971, the beginning of Project Gutenberg, which gives away e-books in the public domain.
You can probably tell just from looking around my website that I’m a big fan of e-books. My first novel, Stroke of Luck, was published an as e-book in 1999, and it is still available as an e-book (albeit from a different publisher). Now, all of my books are available as e-books at Smashwords.
In the early days, when I told people my novel was an e-book, the most common response was,”What’s that?” After I explained what an e-book was, the most common response was, “Oh, I want to read a real book.”
I gave talks to local writers groups and published an article in the newsletter of the San Antonio Romance Authors entitled “Is an E-Book a Real Book?” You won’t be surprised to hear that my answer is a resounding “yes.”
During Read an E-Book Week, you can download a free copy of my contemporary romance novel Fern’s Fancies. You can download the PDF file here on my website; if you prefer other formats, you can download from Smashwords using a discount code I will provide.
I offer the following free e-books all the time:
Many publishers, authors, and companies are participating in Read an E-Book Week. Each will offer something of value during the week, so be sure to check them out and stock up on great e-books for free!
Passing e-books on to others does present a challenge. The difference is that when you give a copy of a print book to the library, you no longer have a copy of the book. If you give a copy of an e-book, you still have the copy on your hard drive so rather than sharing one copy of the book you have created a new copy.
I don’t agree with draconian DRM (digital rights management) processes that don’t allow e-books to be shared. Instead, I prefer to just remind readers that if they create and distribute additional copies of the books, they are cheating the authors.
On the other hand, I have no objection to readers having more than one copy of an e-book for their own or family use. There’s no reason someone can’t have different formats to read on their computer, an e-book reader (or more than one if they or family members have more than one), and a phone. That is like taking a print book from the living room to the bedroom to the den and reading in different locations.
In fact, when I create e-books for my publisher or my clients, I always create several different electronic formats and put them together in a single zip file. When a customer places an order, they download the zip file and can read whichever format(s) they want. Smashwords allows you to download any and all formats you want when you purchase an e-book and you can return and download again if you need to. Unfortunately, proprietary formats like the Kindle and Sony can be read only on specific devices.
It’s primarily the large traditional publishers who put DRM on their e-books. Most independent and self-publishers make their books easily available but simply ask readers not to make duplicate copies of their books. Most small publishers price e-books reasonably, and you can find lots of free e-books, especially public domain books. So you don’t have to spend a lot of money to read a lot of e-books.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study of e-reader owners.
People who buy e-readers tend to spend more time than ever with their nose in a book, preliminary research shows.
A study of 1,200 e-reader owners by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. found that 40% said they now read more than they did with print books. Of those surveyed, 58% said they read about the same as before while 2% said they read less than before. And 55% of the respondents in the May study, paid for by e-reader maker Sony Corp., thought they’d use the device to read even more books in the future. The study looked at owners of three devices: Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle, Apple Inc.’s iPad and the Sony Reader.
… People report they’re reading more and at times when a book isn’t normally an option: on a smartphone in the doctor’s waiting room; through a Ziploc-bag-clad Kindle in a hot tub, or on a treadmill with a Sony Reader’s fonts set to jumbo.
So those who believe that e-books are detrimental to reading may need to take another look. You don’t have to read print or electronic exclusively. You can choose to read in print or on an e-reader, whichever is most convenient at the moment.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of reading on an e-reader. I’ve had several through the years, and now read on the original Kindle. I’m looking for an excuse to buy the Kindle 3. Maybe I can drop my Kindle and break it? It still works great—I’d just like to add the new features in the latest version of the device.
I entered the e-book market when my first novel, Stroke of Luck, was published as an e-book in 1999. I got my first e-book reader shortly after that. Back then, few people had even heard of e-books. We demonstrated e-book readers at booksignings and spent as much time educating readers about e-books as promoting our individual books.
How times have changed! In a press release from Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos said,
Even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books–astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.
Recently, I’ve come across several indications of the growth of the e-book market.
When I used to read from my e-book reader in public, I always had people asking what it was. Now when I read from my Kindle in public, people either say they have one or they want one.
And, of course, if you want to join the e-reading movement, you can buy a Kindle at Amazon or a variety of other e-readers from several different vendors.
The World eBook Fair makes it easy to find and download free e-books. The event is sponsored by Project Gutenberg, World Public Library, DPP Store, Baen Books, Ask.com, Internet Archive, MobileBooks, and MyeBook.
Now is a great time to stock up on free reading material.
Read an E-Book Week is here … and with it the chance for you to learn more about e-books and to download free e-books. Let’s start with free e-books—everybody likes free—then we’ll get to resources to learn more about e-books.
During this week, I am offering a free e-book to each of my visitors.
Some of my clients are providing limited numbers of copies of their e-books:
I am offering an unlimited number of my own e-books:
Just leave a comment indicating your first, second, and third choices for your free e-book. I will e-mail you the e-book (typically a zip file containing several different e-book formats) within one business day. You must request your free e-book during Read an E-Book Week 2009, no later than Saturday, March 14th. Though I will give you your first choice if possible, the e-books in limited supply will be distributed in the order the request is received in comments.
Visit the Read an E-Book Partners page to find more free e-books from publishers and authors.
The following sites give away free e-books all the time:
You can find even more free e-books by going to your favorite search engine and typing in “free e-books.”
If you’d like to know more about e-books, check out the following articles.
On the Read an E-Book site, you will find:
You will find a number of articles on my blog about e-books, including the following.
General E-Book Information:
Electronic Reading Devices:
In closing, let me share a few of the things I like best about reading e-books:
I read e-books almost exclusively, but many people prefer print. Do any of the benefits listed above attract your interest? Many readers find that reading e-books—once a week, once a month, or once a year—adds to their reading enjoyment and saves them money while preserving trees. Hope you Read an E-book this week!
Don’t forget to leave your comment with your first, second, and third choices of e-books. If you request one of my books, Dream or Destiny or Stroke of Luck, you don’t need to include any other choices, as there are no limits on how many of these I will give away.
Next week is Read an E-Book Week.
Come back on and comment on the post of Monday, March 9 for a chance to win a free e-book.
Visit my previous post about Read an E-Book Week for a list of titles. Include your first, second, and third choices in your comment.
Why am I excited about Read an E-Book Week? Because I’ve been a fan of e-books since my first novel, Stroke of Luck, was published in 1999.
I’ve described before how editors from traditional publishing houses told me “no one wants to read about a cripple” when I submitted Stroke of Luck. The heroine of this romance novel has had a stroke and is in a wheelchair. Then a friend of mine e-mailed me that she’d heard about a new e-publisher who was seeking manuscripts with disabled characters. I submitted my manuscript, and the publisher accepted my story right away. Until that time, I had never read an e-book. I decided if my book was going to be available only as an e-book, I should read a few e-books so I wouldn’t be completely ignorant.
Today, I read e-books almost exclusively. Not that I have anything against print books. I think there is room for both e-books and print e-books in the marketplace. The primary reason I don’t read many print books is because reading on my Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device is easier for my aging, stroke-damaged eyes.
Another reason I read e-books is that I find many great, innovative books available only from small, independent electronic publishers. I can find cross-genre books more easily from e-publishers than from traditional print publishers. I can find books that are just a little—or a whole lot—different.
I’m not suggesting you give up reading print books if you enjoy them. I am suggesting that you try something different if you’ve never anything but print books. Read an E-Book!