Poll/Discussion: Your thoughts on eBooks

It’s looking pretty likely that a nice chunk of the Star Wars backlist will be coming to eBook format this summer. Given the popularity of that post – if not for April Fools, it would probably have been last week’s most-read – it seems there’s quite a bit of interest.

While I know a lot of folks who are all about their Kindles, I can’t say the format has ever held much interest for me. (And I already own most of the Star Wars backlist anyway.) I like physical books, and moreover, I like shopping for actual books in actual bookstores. Ironically, my reason for that – basically, instant gratification, because even two-day shipping takes two days – is the one reason why I can understand the lure of eBooks.

But what are your thoughts? Have you jumped on the eBook train? (Star Wars or otherwise!)

[poll id=”79″]

22 Replies to “Poll/Discussion: Your thoughts on eBooks”

  1. I’ve wanted to make the switch to eBooks for a long time now, but I was waiting for the right moment. My bookshelves are almost at maximum capacity, and eBooks are cheaper and more convenient.

    So what was holding me up? Well, frankly, I primarily read Star Wars books (though I do read others too). Not all Star Wars books are initially released in eBook format. The big ones like Fate of the Jedi are, but not novels like Red Harvest or Knight Errant. If I was going to make the switch, I wanted to do it all at once.

    However, I’ve now started to transition over. The Kindle app on Windows Phone 7 is great. Having downloaded a few books on it, I can say it works very well and is extremely convenient. With the news (rumor) that all of the Star Wars books are coming out in eBook format in the near future, I’m finally ready to make the switch.

    I have Kindle on Windows Phone 7 and PC. Now I just need an actual Kindle device. eBooks have finally gotten to the point where I can go completely digital.

  2. I will always buy print Star Wars books because I value the physical collection aspect. Even so, eBooks are great for the Star Wars reference librarians among us (myself included) who want to be able to search for a particular term and find it in seconds.

  3. They will have to pry my cold dead fingers off my Kindle.

    I love the format, love that I can get books instantly without having to even go to the store. I can browse on the internet like I would have in the store- actually easier since I’m not also having to keep an eye on the kiddo. eBooks are generally cheaper as well so easier on the pocketbook and space at home. Best part, I have my Kindle, I have my library (almost) with me at all times.

    Downside is books that have just been scanned and not edited – the Earth Children books — ARGH! Horrible quality on the ebook side. But the tradeoffs are acceptable.

    Sometimes I do love a good chunk of paper in my hands and some stuff I like to mark up notes by hand- but my pleasure reading is all kindle all the time. :) (Or kindle app on another device)

  4. I love the ebook format. The books are cheaper than the hardback versions which is nice when almost every new Star Wars book is released as a hardback. Portability is nice too. I can have The Sorcerer’s Stone, Vortex, and Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter all in my pocket whenever I feel like reading. You obviously can’t do that with traditional books. I do my e-reading on either my iPhone or iPad. Since they are backlit I can read in my bed at night without having to have a light on and keeping my wife up. I am fully on board with the ebook format.
    On a side note. The iPad is great for reading comics and magazines (Star Wars Insider) as well.

  5. I have Kindle on my Mac and iPhone and absolutely love it. Last year I went through the process of digitizing every part of my life that I could, and since then I haven’t purchased a printed book if it was available in Kindle format. I guess I understand people’s hesitation from a tradition standpoint, but I feel like the environmental and economic benefits of eBooks by far takes the prize. Not to mention I would argue reading and especially note taking is easier on an eBook. No pen highlighting required! You can add/remove notes like that!

    Where it concerns Star Wars EU, I actually just finished my first EU eBook, Paul Kemp’s Deceived, and I very much enjoyed it. Being able to read on my phone and laptop was much easier than having to carry around a hardcover. Basically, any book I can get digital I do, and I’m very excited about the increases in SWEU that has been happening lately.

  6. I genuinely believe that I would be different as a writer and as a person if I had grown up in a world with e-readers, and I’m not sure that it would have been for the better. I enjoy the tangibles of books too much. I’m a sucker for the feel of different paper stocks, the smells of ink and pulp, a good page layout, the way the item ages and begins to decay. Everything about a physical book is infinitely more real for me.

    That isn’t to say that I find the Kindle lacking (the NOOK is a different story completely). I have the Kindle for PC program installed on my desktop and I pillaged their public domain section for research and reference material that I’ve been happy to have. I also know a lot of people who have an e-reader just for travel, and I have to admit that, with the number of books I’ve taken on a couple of my recent trips, I can’t fault their logic in using the things. So I guess ultimately I see them as useful tools, but for the sake of reading for entertainment they’re just not for me.

  7. One concern I do have with eBooks: I’m a constant rereader. Will I still have them in 20 years? (Granted, I won’t want all of them that long, but there will be some.) Will they work in 20 years, even if the original Kindle or iPhone or whatever is long since gone? And most importantly, given how I am far more likely to remember cover art than titles, will I be able to find them in a mass of files?

    They certainly have their uses, but I can’t forsee myself going all-digital any time soon.

  8. I own all the Star Wars novels (including graphic novels) and I love my collection and never gave eBooks a second thought because I am a completest and the switch would have to be all or nothing for me. With the news about the backlist of Star Wars books possibly becoming available in eBook format, I am starting to consider making the switch. I will wait and see how much of the backlist is included but it would be nice to free up 2 large bookshelves. Plus it is eco-friendly. I just don’t know if I want to pay for all those books a second time. Wish there was some way to exchange them :)

  9. I’m thinking about asking for an e-reader for Christmas, simply for the convenience factor. It would never replace ‘real’ books for me, and ones that I love I will definitely still buy in paper form. And I don’t mind supporting the authors I love by buying an e-version of a book I already have. When I’m lounging around at home I’ll still be reaching for a book, but when I’m travelling, either on vaction, public transit or around school between classes, an e-reader will hopefully save me some back strain. :) And if they had textbooks in e-form, I’d be all over that so fast!

    I’m curious to know what brand of e-readers seem to work best?

  10. I have a Nook, but I don’t use it for all of my reading. I doubt that I will ever buy regular Star Wars books on it (aside from those only released as an e-book). Any series or author that I’ve been collecting in paper format I will continue to buy in that format.

    IMO the biggest drawback to e-books is you can’t bring them in the tub with you :p

  11. @Dunc: with a Nook Color, you see the cover art on your bookshelf (albeit as a thumbnail) – my guess is that in a few cycles, they’ll realize that they should make different versions of the cover: for print, for online stores, and for the thumbnail that will appear on your shelf.

    @Michelle: my wife got a Nook Color and she loves it,. compared to the e-ink style B&W readers, it sucks up battery life much much faster, but having a back-lit screen means you can read in dark areas, and it works fine in bright sunlight too. plus color (which is awesome for reading magazines like National Geographic). and having a wifi web browser, pandora, and a few other apps You can upload your own photos,videos, and can also use google e-books on it (Google ebooks works with pretty much all readers except Kindle). Plus in a few weeks, B&N will open an app store for it, since it is basically a Droid pad device. (and if you want, you can root a nook color to turn it into a full Droid pad instead of just being a Nook).

    as for me, i’ll buy SW books in print, but some other books i’d be inclined to try in e-format on a reader.

  12. James: Apple does, too. (Even as a reader, I can’t seeing buying a dedicated device.) But that’s now, and things will probably be backwards compatible. But honestly, I’d probably just lose the files somewhere along the way.

  13. I bought a Wifi Nook last summer and I’ve pretty much completed my transition to eBooks. The only physical books I’m buying now are D&D books and occasional comics. As someone who does not read in the tub, I have no problem with the only real disadvantage of an eBook reader. My wife has a Nook as well, though unlike me she will buy a physical book if it’s unavailable on Nook and I won’t. I’ve even bought a Nook for my mom who loves that all her books are now large print. I can’t really imagine going back to physical books for everyday reading.

  14. Books can’t crash. Also, they don’t become obsolete or run out of batteries. As to the environment, haven’t humans always made books? If I’m not mistaken, it’s one of our natural activities, just like a deer rubs it’s horn on a tree or a beaver dams a stream. Does it tax the environment? Probably a bit, but I think it’s our right, and we can always recycle old books and plant more trees.

  15. @Dunc: at least with B&N and google e-books, you can’t lose the files – if your nook crashes or you buy a second reader, your library of purchases is still available for you to re-download. and B&N allows to you loan books to friend with accounts, so you can share your purchases with friends for 14 days.

  16. I read both. I like books and ebooks for different reasons. I’m cool with eBooks for books I don’t need to buy and just want to read. Books I want to keep, I’ll buy physical copies of.

  17. Bryan: I can see doing that. I’ve downloaded a few of the free books (Austen and the like) to see if I can make it through a full one on the iPhone.

  18. I like the idea of eBooks for the convenience factor. However, I still love physical books and I doubt I will ever want to give them up completely (especially all my autographed EU books!). I love my iPhone and iPod and technology in general, but for some reason I’m very old-fashioned when it comes to books. That said, I wish I could have digital and print copies of all my books, because it would be so much easier to browse or scan books for a particular line or scene digitally than in print. I don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted flipping through EU books, looking for a scene that I can remember clearly in my mind but have no idea of where or when it happens.

  19. I picked up a Nook color when they came out. I’ve been reading on it ever since.

    I’m a paper person, generally speaking. I have a huge library at home (fiction and non-fiction). My husband is the same on many fronts. However, I learned to love e-format on our last trip overseas. Normally I would have had several books in my luggage taking up weight and space. Now I have one slim little piece of electronics.

    I’ve also been able to sample many writers and/or classics for free via things like Project Gutenberg. And many authors have free or creative commons license versions of their books available at very low or no cost. In the last 5-6 months I’ve taken “chances” on lots of new (or new-to-me) SF works.

    While there is a potential issue of compatibility with e-books (and also DRM issues which annoy me to no end) I just stick to works with no DRM. I also can load searchable manuals, fan fic, and anything in epub or pdf on the thing to read at will.

    My Nook is not a replacement for paper, it’s an in addition to convenience. I’m still going to get my Star Wars in paper format. But, as a long time “you’ll get me to read an ebook in h#ll” person, I really must say I see it’s place in the market and have definitely become a convert.

  20. I’m a hardcopy person all the way. I love the feel of a book in my hands, and I enjoy seeing all my books lined up on shelves.

    I like the idea of an ereader for the convenience of travel and searching the text, but I’m not at a point where I need those conveniences in my life.

  21. Have to agree with Mr Geller, much rather have the physical book in my collection than an e-copy (which – hate to say it – might as well be a pirated copy than a ‘real’ copy)
    Plus this topic falls into the ‘format wars’ conversation – as said here earlier, will we still have Kindles, i-pads (i-anythings) in 20 years time?

  22. I’ve tried reading e-books and have only managed successfully to do this twice. Computer, Kindle, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, etc… whatever the device, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work well for me.

    Physical books are infinitely more attractive to me for any number of rational and silly reasons. The smell of the book, the feel of pages beneath my fingers, sticking notes or writing on the pages, not having to wait for anything to load, even if we’re talking relatively minute fractions of a second. I don’t have to ever worry about charging a physical book, or the remote possibility of the words suddenly disappearing because a book won’t ever stop working the same way an e-reading device might (again, however remote). I respond much better to the tactile nature of physical books.

    If someone ever steals a book or a copy out on loan is never returned, I can easily spend another $8-$30 to buy a replacement. If someone steals my e-reader, I’m out somewhere in the $100s for a replacement device.

    I have no space for more books, but can see the advantages for people who like the convenience of e-books. I’d just rather deal with my growing piles and which books to keep or donate than go digital.

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