It wasn’t that long ago that electronic mail was new and strange – a novelty instead of a daily communication tool. Not anymore. I don’t remember the last time I wrote a personal letter. A note maybe to go along with a package. But a letter? Like it or not e-mail is the way of the world now. Just as I think e-books will be in less than five years. The number of e-books on the market is exploding. The number of e-readers (the devices and the people) is increasing every day. Publishing contracts today include electronic rights along with foreign and domestic print rights. Yep, e-books are here to stay…in one form or another. (Hey, I’m old enough to have lived through 8-tracks, cassette tapes, cds, and digital downloads for i-Pods – so I know nothing is forever!)
But not to be left behind on the e-book super highway, my co-author and I have recently published a short story collection – I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries and a single short story – Riley Come Home at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It was quite a learning experience. And we are still trying to figure out some of the formatting tweaks. My co-author says that learning how to do a clickable “Table of Contents” has become a point of pride with me – not something that we absolutely have to include in our e-books. She’s right (she’s right a lot of the time but let’s keep that fact just between us). I admit that I have developed an obsession with figuring it out. (Yes, I know there are people out there making a living whom I could pay to do it for me – but what’s the fun in that?) I will conqueror the problem as I do most things – through time, trial, whining, and error. Lot’s of whining and error.
On the bright side, did you know that on-line bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders have their own software applications that can be downloaded free to your e-reader and/or your PC (desktop or laptop)? You visit their site, search for e-book software applications (if you don’t see an ad for one staring right at you when you arrive on site) and click on the download button. It loads itself and all you need to do is set up an account (if you don’t already have one there for all those print books you’ve been buying for years) and start buying e-books. You can be reading in seconds on your computer without actually purchasing a Kindle (although the current price of $139 is becoming very tempting) or a Nook (Barnes & Noble’s popular e-reader). You can also buy e-books for the Apple i-Pad from the on-line Apple store. Tony Burton, publisher extraordinare, has an on-line store, The Digital Bookshop. You can find lots of great e-books and print books there (including Evelyn David’s Sullivan Investigations mystery series).
And here’s another surprise – there are free e-books to be had. Free! Amazon and Barnes & Noble have free e-books offerings. All you have to do is download them.
Now be warned, my co-author and I aren’t giving away our books. (Are you kidding after all that blood, sweat, and whining?) But if you’re counting your pennies, buying e-books can save you money. Our short story collection, I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries is priced at $2.99. Riley Come Home is a mere 99 cents. The Kindle versions of Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake are $5 each at Amazon versus the very reasonable just over $9 price tag for the trade paperback editions.
So here’s my question? Have you tried an e-book yet? If not, why not?
(Oh, and if anyone wants to give me some tips about that clickable “Table of Contents” thing, I’d appreciate it.)