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Old 09-17-2008, 02:09 PM   #1
Falbe Publishing
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Will ebooks become the new mass market paperback?

One thing that I like about ebooks is that I can now look forward to less clutter of cheap books around my house. Although most of my mass market paperbacks provided me with excellent, sometimes cherished, entertainment, they for the most part become borderline junk after reading. They look a bit raggedy and they have no value except for dumping off at a thrift store. (Exception: my beloved little Doctor Who paperbacks that I've been carting around the continent since my preteens.)

Mass market paperbacks could hardly be labeled as a durable product. They are a nearly disposable medium. So, I'm speculating that as more readers get some sort of reading gadget, then ebooks will become the affordable form for consuming entertainment and information that you do not necessarily want or need to store for posterity. Readers will mostly buy ebooks, and their paper book purchases will be in hardcover because they are seeking a more durable item to serve as a keepsake and put on display. For example, I want my hardcover The Lord of the Rings trilogy on my shelf. Also, I have zero desire to replace my cookbooks with digital forms. Cookbooks need to withstand the spray of batter or the spatter of grease.

Right now paperback books serve as the affordable item compared to hardcovers. I think publishing will trend toward ebooks instead of cheapo paperbacks.

This seems logical to me, but I suppose it will be a long painful transition, with some companies doing well and others clinging to their buggy whips.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:37 PM   #2
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Change is always difficult and troublesome, but I believe, in this precise situation inevitable…

Can take time… maybe is not in the form we think it will be today…
But it’s coming! How yes!!! It’s coming!
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:05 PM   #3
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Agreed. For me the cut point of disposable entertainment has always been the price of a movie ticket (not including the popcorn and Coke.) Below this amount I will freely cast off the book (or whatever.) While you have carted the Dr. Who books, I have kept the Bantam Doc Savage books.

Paper books have their place but the space for those books is being squeezed everyday. Already many people have replaced their music collections with the contents on their iPod. Once they would have proudly shown off their record collection. Many people had special shelving constructed to hold the 12" Lp albums. Some people later had shelf upon shelf of CDs. My CDs are boxed in the basement next to the Lps. All have been transcribed to a music server.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:24 PM   #4
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I figure its possible and probable when the cost of e-ink readers is about the price of a cheapo cell phone or DVD player.

Once people get over their apprehensive over reading e-books, there is still the concern about device costs.Until devices are cheap enough the to be a throwaway item (figuratively) and easily available in everywhere its probably not going to replace the humble paperback.

After all if you forgot your reader at home would you willing to spend a couple hundred plus to replace it. On the other hand if you could buy a cheap basic device, for the price of say a couple of DVD's you might consider it.

And while more and more people nowadays already do carry phones, media players, etc that could be used for reading ebooks, most would probably find the small screen are not very comfortable for long reading session.

Until then I figure that people who read a lot are probably going to be the ones buying these devices, not the mass market reader, who may read perhaps a few of books a year.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:54 PM   #5
Steven Lyle Jordan
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I think a standardized format will help make this transition... when it doesn't matter what you read a book on, pick your device as needed, more people will find they already have devices that will read e-books, and e-books will officially be more flexible than paperbacks.

I see your point about cookbooks, BTW, but remember, a more splash-proof kitchen reader can always be used.

Wood... I still have my Doc Savage paperback collection, too! (We could've gone on for hours at the get-together!)
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Old 09-17-2008, 07:34 PM   #6
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I agree with the disposable idea but I also want and keep electronic copies of lots of reference books such as manuals for products. I can always search and find these eBooks when I need them but I can never seem to find the p-book, or at least without a great deal of effort.
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
I think a standardized format will help make this transition... when it doesn't matter what you read a book on, pick your device as needed, more people will find they already have devices that will read e-books, and e-books will officially be more flexible than paperbacks.

I see your point about cookbooks, BTW, but remember, a more splash-proof kitchen reader can always be used.

Wood... I still have my Doc Savage paperback collection, too! (We could've gone on for hours at the get-together!)
I too, have the complete Bantam Doc Savage Set. Maybe I should start a Favorite Doc Savage Story (and Lines) thread...
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:11 PM   #8
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Back to the original thread. I think that e-books will eventually replace paperbacks. How long it will take is another question. People still like to go to a bookstore (new or used) just to be suprised by books and authors they never thought about or heard of. I don't know what kind of an e-environment would be conducive to this sort of browsing.
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Old 09-18-2008, 01:40 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Falbe Publishing View Post


Mass market paperbacks could hardly be labeled as a durable product. They are a nearly disposable medium. So, I'm speculating that as more readers get some sort of reading gadget, then ebooks will become the affordable form for consuming entertainment and information that you do not necessarily want or need to store for posterity. Readers will mostly buy ebooks, and their paper book purchases will be in hardcover because they are seeking a more durable item to serve as a keepsake and put on display. For example, I want my hardcover The Lord of the Rings trilogy on my shelf. Also, I have zero desire to replace my cookbooks with digital forms. Cookbooks need to withstand the spray of batter or the spatter of grease.
If you think of this as a trend instead of an absolute, then it already is happening. Baen Books has, since the instigation of their Webscription program of ebook sales, become a publisher that produces many more hardback books than they previously did. There are several presumed reasons for this, but taken together, more books are being released as a hardback instead of initial releases as a paperback.

Also, additional reasons for buying a hardback include a desire to reward an author with more royalties and/or recognition. There are some patrons of Baen's Bar that claim to buy one of each available format for selected books and authors, just to have "a complete set".

On the opposing hand, I buy lots of MMPB copies that I intend to keep. I almost never buy hardback, because I don't wish to STORE hardbacks - they take up too much room. Also, they cost enough that I'm not willing to experiment with new authors. Ebooks take up even less space, usually cost less (at least the ones I have been buying so far), and have the added benefit that I'm willing to keep even the awful ones around. (and sometimes that means they eventually move from the "awful" category to a more favorable one.)
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