Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Hidden Disadvantages of E-Book 'Ownership'

In almost every class I've had, there's been ample talk among my fellow library school students about e-books vs. traditional books. At some point during the discussion, someone will say, "It's so much easier when I travel. I don't have to carry a bag full of books anymore - I just carry my e-reader." Then someone else will say, "I just can't ever see owning an e-reader. I love the smell of books. I love turning pages." And the discussion will go on.

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Personally, I don't have an e-reader. Even though more and more friends and family members are buying Nooks and Kindles, I've chosen not to - not necessarily because I have anything against e-readers. I've just never been much of an electronics person. Also, I'm happy with my traditional books. But I can understand the appeal of e-books (especially on moving day!), so I don't knock loved ones who love their e-readers. It seems like there is plenty to love about them. There seems to be a lot not to love about them, too - at least according to a recent Consumerist article, which you can read below. * March 6, 2012

Here Are a Few Important Things E-Book Sellers Aren't Bragging About


By Mary Beth Quirk

Glancing at your bulging bookshelf and then over at your slim reader might make you wonder if paper books will someday go the way of the dinosaur in favor of e-books. For a few reasons at least, hang on to those paper copies, as there are still some drawbacks to reading electronic fare.

SmartMoney goes through 10 things e-book sellers won't tell you, presenting a case for those who still like physical copies of their literature.

There's no such thing as "one-reader-fits all": Switching from one brand of e-reader to another isn't going to be easy, at least when it comes to bringing along all the books you've already purchased. Publishers say they aren't really your books, you've only bought access to them. And if you could just copy a book from one device to another, what's to keep someone from handing out "free" books to all of their friends? Better to just pick one brand and stick with it.

Sales are fleeting: E-books can be repriced easier than regular books, since there aren't any concerns like physical inventory and there's only one point-of-sale system to deal with. That means a sale can happen in the flash of an eye and then be gone again before you know it. Definitely not the same as browsing the dollar bin and scoring a copy of Pride and Prejudice.

E-books are getting more expensive: Competing with physical books used to keep prices down on e-books, but these days, many are selling for only a few bucks less than their paper counterparts. The six biggest publishers have been engaged in "agency pricing," and are under investigation for that practice. which lets them set the price of any book.

Borrowing from the library ain't easy: Think you can just borrow books from your library via an e-reader app? It's not that great — bestsellers are rarely available and the selection doesn't encompass that many books. Only about two-thirds of public libraries even offer e-book borrowing, and a small percentage of their catalogs are available, at that. This is partly due to publishers not allowing their e-books to be lent out at all or attempting to restrict the number of times a library can lend out a particular book before repurchasing rights to it.

For more things e-book publishers aren't telling you, check out SmartMoney.

10 Things E-Books Won't Tell You [SmartMoney]

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