Whence the book?

Okay, this is going to be just a little self-serving. In that it’s not only a question that I think about at work, but it’s also something I think about when I’m not at work. Of course, the lines between work and not-work are often blurry for me, but anyway. Read on, Mercutio. Or something.

A series of questions. Because I know you are a reader. And I also know that you totally picked out that I began this paragraph with a sentence fragment, but let’s move on, okay. Let’s just move on.

1) Do you currently have an eReader (or more than one)? If so, what kind of eReader do you prefer to use?

2) Where do you find your eBooks? This is a tricksy question, now, because I don’t know if you’re still the sort of person who finds their *print* books in bookshops. But when it comes to eBooks, do you look through book catalogues? Do you buy them all from Amazon? Have you ever purchased an eBook from a publisher’s website? Or a distributor’s website? If so, which one(s)?

3) If your local bookshop had a mechanism by which you could purchase eBooks directly through the shop itself, would you be more inclined to shop for your eBooks through a local retailer? Is it the *convenience*, in other words, of not *having* to shop? Is it the immediacy of not having to remember what so-and-so told you is a good book, that drives you to your preferred eBook retailer?

4) Do you borrow eBooks from your library? If so, have you had any trouble finding Canadian content? If not, why not?

This all arises from a couple of issues tossing around in the book world, but I’m also keenly interested in what you, **the reader**, want. What you do. Where you read. How you find your books. Whether you’ve noticed that little hole in the bathroom wall just beside the tub.


Right. Well. I want your input on this. Because if I’m going to open a bookshop, these are questions I need answered *before I start*. Consider yourself part of my market research.






18 responses to “Whence the book?”

  1. Smarty Pants Avatar
    Smarty Pants

    I do not have an E reader. I’m stubborn. I’m a luddite.
    That being said, is the industry going to seduce me over to the dark side? Or simply make it impossible to *not* have an E reader by not printing books on paper any more?
    Probably not helpful to you at all, but there it is.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      The industry is in no way moving toward not producing print books.

      They may be more expensive in the future, and they will certainly be more difficult to find (what with the death of the independent bookstore), but they won’t go away.

  2. rilla Avatar

    I do not have an ereader of any sort. I also purchase my books at a book store, but also sometimes online, if my local store doesn’t have them.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      But how do you find them if you’re not in a bookstore?


      …because if you did, that would fucking rock.

  3. Stephanie Avatar

    I have a PlayBook with a Kobo ereader. I usually get ebooks through Kobo or from Gutenberg Press but that is mostly because my software links directly to Kobo. I would buy them from other places, I don’t have brand loyalty, I am just lazy.

    I still buy quite a few paper books, especially if they are by certain authors that I collect. I usually buy them at Chapters because it is the only bookstore near me and I only order off Amazon when it is a book I have not been able to find elsewhere.

    I haven’t borrowed any books from the library yet but I know a few people who do. I don’t have a library card either.

    Hope this helps.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      That completely rocks, Steph.

      Particularly the bit about buying books through proprietary eReader software because it’s easy. That’s kind of what I thought might be someone’s answer.

  4. melistress Avatar

    I have a Sony E-Reader and I love it. And I would buy another one if something should happen to this one. I find it handy for carrying PDF files with me and so on. You can find a lot of “free” books on google. I have also bought my books from Kobo (my personal favorite) and the Sony bookstore.

    I don’t “borrow” books from the library because I don’t like having a “time limit” on my books and quite frankly, the last time I checked, our local public library didn’t quite have a good setup. They may now. I don’t know.

    I buy lots of books though. In both print and epub format. It makes little difference to me which format I choose. Most of the ebooks I buy are impulse buys though. Books that I want Right Now as opposed to waiting until I can get close to a bookstore.

    I have ordered from Amazon for either the selection (couldn’t find the book locally) or the convenience (I live out of town, sometimes it is easier to get to an online bookstore) also, I wanted to pre-order one book so I would have it as soon as it came out, not trusting our local bookstores to have it on their shelves.

    If I want Canadian content I go directly to McNally first.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      How do you find your eBooks? Particularly the ones you find on impulse buys?

      1. melistress Avatar

        usually Kobo or whichever store I buy my e-books from, sends me out advertising by email. Sometimes I am just browsing the e-stores. And sometimes it is a book that someone has mentioned that I just have to have right now and I will do a search for it on the e-stores.

  5. treeleaning Avatar

    I used to have 2 kobos, an early version and a more recent fancy-schmancy model. I kept the early version because it came loaded with 100 books that I really should have read by now. I added two books to it because they were FREE. I’ve never purchased any ebooks to add to it and can’t see myself doing so. After all, I’ve still got those 100 books in various stages of having been read. But if I were to, I quite like the idea of going into a bookstore to do it. I love bookstores and, yes, purchase almost all of my paper books from real bricks and mortar bookstores with real flesh and blood booksellers with whom to gab and pester. I don’t have a library card and can’t imagine borrowing an ebook. I’d never get the thing read. I can’t see committing to read a certain book within a certain period of time. I’d crumble under the pressure and end up not reading it at all. I need the myriad of options that my far too many owned books offer me.

    I gave my fancy schmancy version to a friend who buys her ebooks on-line through kobo and who absolutely loves borrowing from the library because she is a tad anti-social and she doesn’t have to interact with anyone. I have never been able to get her into a bookstore with me, although she loves to read (she used to buy her books from the grocery store) and I can’t see her ever going into a bookstore to buy an ebook.

    Different strokes.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Very interesting.

      Thanks for your comment. And I completely agree about the brick-and-mortar bookstore. And the timeline. I have always considered my library late fees to be ‘user fees’.

  6. gypsyhick Avatar

    I use my iPad as an ereader.

    Most of the books I read are from the library. The elibrary has made me a library patron again because the countdown tells me when books will expire.I do have problems finding Can content in the library catalogue (unless there’s only ONE book about tax laws for small business).

    I have bought one book on Amazon and I borrow heavily from my brother’s elibrary. I purchase knitting patterns from several websites and use on my iPad.

    Pre-offspring, we were at local used bookstore or Chapters at least once a month to stock up. I would like the option of having advise of a knowledgable bookstore owner when buying books, be it online or in person. Online is a great option – live chat and sales thru website? I don’t know – I love the immediacy of my ereader but I do carry a list in it of recommended titles for real and ebook searches.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Thanks, gypsyhick.

      By “borrow heavily from your brother’s elibrary”, do you mean you share eBooks via iCloud or something?

      1. gypsyhick Avatar

        He hosts his elibrary with Calibre and since I can’t figure it out, right now he extracts his list of books, I pick, and he sends me the link to borrow it.

  7. Heather Avatar

    I have a colour Nook because those clever people created a device that can also be used as an Android tablet. I therefore buy most of my content through Barnes & Noble. I also have the Nook app for my iPhone, which automatically updates between the two devices so I can pick up reading on my iPhone where I left off with my Nook. I do also have the Kobo and Kindle apps for iPhone as well.

    Most of my e-reading is based either on word-of-mouth recommended titles, books I’m reading for Book Club, or authors whose works I’m following. When we had a locally owned brick-and-mortar store, I was in there about once a week. I really miss that store but completely understand why they closed. I have purchased hard copy books from Costco (cheap!) and Amazon (lazy! And also, they will drop-ship books as gifts to other readers, like my grandparents, who don’t get out much anymore).

    I do not find myself “browsing” Barnes & Noble’s (or Kobo’s or Kindle’s) ecatalogues for “something to read,” though–I’m purchasing based on authors I’ve read and enjoyed in hard copy (I am one of those people who puts the release dates of upcoming books from favourite authors on my calendar). I have, however, found myself scrolling through the “readers who bought this book also bought” on Amazon and have found interesting books that way too. I also go to authors’ and publishers’ websites to see what’s new.

    I buy hard copy when I’m gift-giving or collecting. I have yet to borrow an ebook from the library…just haven’t taken the time to figure it out yet, and purchasing an ebook is so immediate.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Thanks, Heather.

      I do think the immediacy of buying books from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble is a big draw. And *my* crackpot hypothesis is that *most* people buy eBooks based on word-of-mouth and not, primarily, by browsing. Which then makes me wonder if browsing for eBooks in a brick-and-mortar store would actually happen…

      Anyway, this is all excellent feedback!

  8. Stark Raving Dad Avatar
    Stark Raving Dad

    I use my iPad for my eReading needs. I love it.

    I browse the iTunes book store and the Kobo book store on it all the time, as people often (at least three or four times a year) give me gift cards for either iTunes or Chapters (which can be used for Kobo) so if I don’t know what I want I can spend a few minutes or hours cruising through the titles there. Many of the titles that I chose were recommended to me either by a friend or a contact on one of the social media sites.

    I do use it for library books, via the Overdrive app, but the selection at my library is somewhat limited, and there is frequently a lengthy queue for the books I want to borrow, which frankly I don’t understand the rationale for – but then I am part of the “I want it NOW!” generation, so that colours my thoughts on waiting for something digital.

    I haven’t bought a paper book in some time now, though our shelves remain full of them. I have given away two Rubbermaid containers full of books over the last year though, so I can foresee a time when there are little / no paper books in our house. The advantage of being able to carry hundreds of books with me everywhere I go is just too enticing for me to give up.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      One of the issues with OverDrive is that it is very, very difficult for Canadian publishers to have their content picked up by the data aggregators. OverDrive is a distributor, more or less, and they are the primary distributor that libraries use for eBooks (at least, this is the information I have gleaned from attending several library conventions in the past couple of years). Librarians are very frustrated at the selections of eBooks available through OverDrive. It’s not that there aren’t other eBooks out there, but that they are not easy for librarians to find. Which means they usually don’t get found, unless you are fortunate to have an extremely well-funded, adequately-staffed library (in which case, everyone else in Canada is jealous of you).

      The other issue is that eBooks work just like paper books for most library systems. You borrow a book for a limited amount of time, whether it is access to an electronic file or whether it is physically removing the book from the brick-and-mortar library. Part of the reason for this is very simple: data transfer and access. There is only so much space allocated to servers either at the library level or at the distributor level for storage and transfers.

      Also, that is the agreement that many publishers make with libraries. Libraries purchase a license for electronic books in much the same way as they would purchase print copies. Some publishers (ie. some of the larger publishers) are not only charging three or more times what print books cost for eBooks, but they are ALSO putting time limits on the amount of time eBook files are available to the libraries. So that a book that might have cost a library $30 to purchase from a publisher in print form costs $100 in digital format AND is only available to the library for three months, or for a year, or whatever. Note: not all publishers do this. In fact, MOST do not. But the ones that do are making it incredibly difficult for libraries to stock their books.

      The more you ask for Canadian eBooks, the more librarians request Canadian content from OverDrive, the more work OverDrive will do to find those regional titles by regional publishers. And the more revenue our publishers will receive from digital licensing of their titles.

      So. By way of an extremely long and convoluted answer, thank you for posting, SRD. I can’t imagine a house with few/no paper books. But as long as the reading is still a healthy and loving addiction, *more power to you*!

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