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Old 05-31-2008, 10:56 PM   #1
ChrisI
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A different kind of wish list

I've seen wish lists for new features in the Reader but let's face it, if it doesn't help Sony make more money you are going to have a long wait.

Since the money is in the books, not the hardware, my question is:

What could Sony do that would make you buy more books from them?

I have a couple ideas.

1. I understand why I can't return a book, (it's a store not a library) but I would really like the ability to "trade up". Let's say I buy books one and two of a six book series, and then Sony offers all six as a bundle. I'd like to return the first two, and use the money to purchase the bundle.

As it is right now, I am afraid to buy any book in a series. I just wait and hope for bundle pricing.

2. I would like a way to report typos, and download an updated version of any book that I have purchased.

Reporting could be as simple as opening the book on your computer, highlighting the error text, and selecting "Report problem" from a context menu.

I can already view my purchases and re-download them if necessary. If that page showed version information, I would know if there was an updated copy for me to download.

They could even offer a "point" for every typo you report, and then let you use your points to get discounts on books. This would encourage people to report problems, and also encourage Sony to fix them quickly.

It wouldn't be long before Sony could advertise that they have the most accurately printed books in the industry.

Any other ideas?
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Old 05-31-2008, 11:07 PM   #2
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I like the bundle idea, I'd like to be able to buy a book from Sony without using the Sony software which I despise
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisI View Post
I've seen wish lists for new features in the Reader but let's face it, if it doesn't help Sony make more money you are going to have a long wait.

Since the money is in the books, not the hardware, my question is:

[snip]
2. I would like a way to report typos, and download an updated version of any book that I have purchased.

[snip]
It wouldn't be long before Sony could advertise that they have the most accurately printed books in the industry.

Any other ideas?

Concerning misprints -- my bet is that Sony gets the files from the publishers, they don't create them in-house, but that is only a guess. Even if they are created in-house, they begin as electronic files submitted from the publishers. They are the same files which are sent to the printer, and I see plenty of misprints in various publishers' paper-books. There is no recourse, nor any credit offered by the traditional publishers, so I'm not sure how or why Sony would be able to change that practice.

I once bought a paper-book from a bookstore and it was missing 16 pages. Every copy on the shelf was missing the same pages. I wrote to the publisher, pointing out just where the missing pages were, and they sent me a new copy of the book. It, too, was missing the pages. I wrote back asking them to photocopy from the manuscript the missing pages so that I could read them. I got back a polite "Thank you for your interest" letter and never have been able to read those missing pages.

I don't think fixing misprints is going to help Sony earn any more money, and by your way of thinking, it will also cost them money, since you want some sort of credit for reporting them.

As for the "books in series" idea -- I'd love it if DVD stores would do the same thing. I buy movies when the price is good and when I feel I want to own them, only to find a "Director's Cut Deluxe Edition with everything ever created related to the movie crammed onto 5 DVDs including a thank-you note from the star's mother" edition, or they are bundled into single-box "All The Indiana Jones Movies (so far)" edition. I sure wish I could trade in my earlier editions and buy the new complete editions, but they have no desire for the earlier editions to come back. So I can buy the newer more complete editions and give the old ones to friends or stick with the original releases.

You know the old saying, "Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which fills up first.''

The things that Sony could do which would make me buy more books from them are:

1) lower ALL their prices -- there' s no reason on this earth why computer books in ebook format have to reflect their enormous paper-version prices;

2) get more publishers and authors to release their books in Sony format at reasonable prices.
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhbailey View Post
The things that Sony could do which would make me buy more books from them are:

1) lower ALL their prices -- there' s no reason on this earth why computer books in ebook format have to reflect their enormous paper-version prices;

2) get more publishers and authors to release their books in Sony format at reasonable prices.
I agree completely with #1. With ebooks, there are no manufacturing or raw material costs, no transportation/storage, no inventory hassles or returns write-offs, etc. Authors can get royalties even with much cheaper prices. At least pass *some* of the cost savings onto consumers.

Of course, #2 would be awesome as well.
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:44 PM   #5
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You hit the nail....

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrMoze View Post
I agree completely with #1. With ebooks, there are no manufacturing or raw material costs, no transportation/storage, no inventory hassles or returns write-offs, etc. Authors can get royalties even with much cheaper prices. At least pass *some* of the cost savings onto consumers.
I agree with this too. The prices should be a lot lower than what they are right now. I have yet to purchase a newer ebook. I will start to buy more if the price was right.
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:17 PM   #6
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Yes, certainly a larger selection of books, and at reasonable prices, would help. Not too likely to happen any time soon because of publisher intransigence, though. But ...

... Here's a wild idea. If Sony, in partnership with whomever, would support monthly subscription multi-media e-zines that would "play" (text, pictures, and yes, sound) on the PRS. Zines like the now defunct _Saturday Evening Post_ and all the SF magazines that died in the 50's, 60's , 70's, and 80's. Cost per month to subscribe something like 50 cents.

Yes, the market for short fiction is dead, dead, dead, and that's not just in the mainstream. Even in
niche markets like SF, detectives, and pulp. Something like this might help revive it. And, provide more reading for PRS owners. And, provide a living for a few more authors.
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrendel View Post
Yes, the market for short fiction is dead, dead, dead, and that's not just in the mainstream. Even in
niche markets like SF, detectives, and pulp. Something like this might help revive it. And, provide more reading for PRS owners. And, provide a living for a few more authors.
Baen's Universe is an electronic only Sci-Fi short story magazine available for $5 per issue (I think), and last I looked, most issues were longer than most novels. Universe apparently pays more per word than traditional paper magazines because they have no printing costs, and each issue features and antiDRM column/rant from Eric Flint.

Fictionwise has Asimov, Analog, Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock, at $2.99 each (less if you are a club member, whatever that is), and available in .lrf format (among others).

Just FYI.

ScS
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:06 PM   #8
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Sony needs to get out of the content business, and turn it over to, loathe though I am to say it, Amazon. I should be able to register my Sony Reader with Amazon, and download their "Kindle edition" books in LRF format.

Alternatively, if Sony really wishes to compete with Amazon, then they should price their books the same as or better than Amazon. Amazon, I'm told, subsidizes lower prices on some titles by their sells sales of other content (printed books). Sony, which is a huge electronics giant, could certainly subsidize lower prices on content, as well.

Last edited by Taylor514ce; 06-02-2008 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 06-01-2008, 09:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dhbailey View Post
I don't think fixing misprints is going to help Sony earn any more money, and by your way of thinking, it will also cost them money, since you want some sort of credit for reporting them.
Personally, I'm finding a lot more misprints in e-books than I ever did in paper. When I already own the book in paper, I often search the web looking for a DRM free copy. Then I can use BookDesigner to make corrections on my local copy.

I would glady spend the money for the e-book if I knew the quality was there.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:54 AM   #10
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My 2 cents:

(1) College textbooks! Do you know how much textbooks cost these days ($50+ each) and it's a racket the way they require students to buy the 'new' edition every year, esp. since most students hardly read all the pages anyway. Just think.. if a significant percentage of students can get e-textbooks cheaper, just imagine the number of Sony Readers that can be sold to the college population?

(2) Out of Print Books -- granted it may be costly to 're-type' the old books but they can be easily outsourced cheaply. This may be a good business opportunity, hey?
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisI View Post
I've seen wish lists for new features in the Reader but let's face it, if it doesn't help Sony make more money you are going to have a long wait.

Since the money is in the books, not the hardware, my question is:

What could Sony do that would make you buy more books from them?
[SNIP]
Any other ideas?
Here are my ideas, from most to least important in terms of their impact on my household.
  1. Make it possible for me to buy books from them without running Windows. I'm not, Not, NOT willing to run Windows just to buy books. More generally, I should be able to sign in to my account from any web-ready OS and purchase and download books that are good to go on my Sony Reader(s). There's no reason to require Windows, rather than any standards-compliant browser. I'm willing to type in a key-code from the reader, and to give up reading encrypted content on my desktop -- after all, I won't buy any encrypted content anyway!
  2. Dump DRM (where publishers permit). And lean on the publishers to permit it! Baen's done just fine this way; others should follow suit. I won't purchase any DRM-crippled books unless I can remove the DRM for personal use. I've already had one electronic library orphaned along with its device -- I refuse to let this happen again. Please note: I do not 'pirate' books. I don't upload copies with DRM broken. I simply insist on being able to read my (legally aquired) content on whatever device I happen to have now or in the future. DRM attempts to prevent me from doing this, and so destroys the value proposition for me. Your mileage may vary.
  3. Fix their pricing. Baen makes a decent amount of money with DRM-free ebooks priced at $6 each (less when purchased in bundles). As for the authors, well, David Drake reported that when he made one of his "Lord of the Isles" books available at Baen ($5, no DRM) he made more money off electronic sales there than he did from the total electronic sales of all his non-Baen books combined -- including the very same book elsewhere. (Overall reports have Baen making about as much from e-Sales as from hardcovers -- not enough to run the company, but nothing to sneeze at either).
  4. Fix the searching capability on Sony's store. I've done searches by Author that miss books that I know are available at the Sony store. I've also searched for titles (spelled correctly!) and had them come up empty; but an author search finds the book OK. There's no excuse for this kind of problem -- searching just isn't that hard!
  5. Fix the browsing at their store. Look at Fictionwise, or Amazon, or BN.com, for Ghu's sake! Any of these has a better shopping experience than does the Sony store.
  6. Broaden the selection at their store. On average, whatever I'm looking for, they don't have. In SF and Fantasy, they should carry everything from Baen, Tor, Ace, Roc, etc., etc. But they don't. How hard can this be? In Romance, we know that Harlequin is making lots of things available in bits. But does Sony have them? Nope.
  7. Mine the long tail. It's ludicrous to have books n and n+1 of a series available in bits, but not books 1..n-1! (I recognize that this is a publisher problem too...)
  8. Offer sample chapters for EVERYTHING. At least the first chapter of any novel; first 25% is better. And you should be able to read the samples either online (using any browser!) , or on your Sony reader.

In terms of making sales to me, they'd have to fix BOTH of the first two to even have a chance -- each of those is a complete show-stopper. The others are improvements that would help, but aren't complete show-stoppers.

Last edited by Xenophon; 06-02-2008 at 11:50 AM. Reason: Note that both the first two are show-stoppers.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:56 PM   #12
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Fix their pricing. Baen makes a decent amount of money with DRM-free ebooks priced at $6 each (less when purchased in bundles).
I agree with most/all of what you ask for here. But, if I could by DRM free books that are tranferable and formated for the reader, and can be converted if needed I would have no problem paying the current MMP price.

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Old 06-02-2008, 02:14 PM   #13
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For me:

1. More books, including books out of print.
2. Multiple formats for a book. I love what Fictionwise is doing with Multiformat. I'd buy tons more if I knew that books I bought for my Reader would work on my wife's Kindle (when I get her one)
3. I want a digital version of every p-book I buy. I want to be able to buy a book at Borders or Barnes and Noble, go home, type in a code on a special website (code comes from the book) and get an ebook copy
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jplumey View Post
For me:

1. More books, including books out of print.
2. Multiple formats for a book. I love what Fictionwise is doing with Multiformat. I'd buy tons more if I knew that books I bought for my Reader would work on my wife's Kindle (when I get her one)
3. I want a digital version of every p-book I buy. I want to be able to buy a book at Borders or Barnes and Noble, go home, type in a code on a special website (code comes from the book) and get an ebook copy

Your first suggestion is a terrific one, especially because for the past 20 years or so books have been computer printed, so they're all in some sort of electronic format already. And it really bugs me the way that I'll get hooked on an author only to find that some of the earlier books are out of print and I just have to wait if I wish to read them in sequence. I spend a lot of money in used bookstores and at Amazon marketplace buying used copies of the books the publishers don't want to sell me, and they don't see a penny of that money. Making those books available at least electronically, even if they don't want the expense of printing and storing/shipping paper copies, would generate more income for both the publishers and their authors.

The multi-format books at Fictionwise are not quite what you think -- you have to make a commitment for ONE format, and once you've downloaded that format, to the best of my knowledge you can't download the same book in a different format. And it's not like you get a zip file with all the formats in it.

And the publishers will be very reluctant to allow number 3 because then you're getting two copies of the book, which can be read by two different people at the same time, for the price of one. That's the biggest fear they have -- that more copies than have been paid for will be in use at one time. What's to stop you from giving that code to all your friends who have Sony readers?

You know that's unreasonable and I know that's unreasonable, because it's the same as you buying one book and reading it and then having your wife or a friend read the same book (or even 10 friends in a row) but to the publishers, it's the biggest reason that they're not all jumping on the ebook bandwagon.
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jplumey View Post
For me:

1. More books, including books out of print.
I would love this as there are many books in my p-library that I would love to have in my e-library. A lot of them just don't exist in e-book, in any format.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jplumey View Post

2. Multiple formats for a book. I love what Fictionwise is doing with Multiformat. I'd buy tons more if I knew that books I bought for my Reader would work on my wife's Kindle (when I get her one)
I have bought a series or two from Fictionwise and, sadly, dhbailey is right. You are committed to one format. It just isn't their "protected" version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jplumey View Post
3. I want a digital version of every p-book I buy. I want to be able to buy a book at Borders or Barnes and Noble, go home, type in a code on a special website (code comes from the book) and get an ebook copy
This make perfect sense. A lot of DVDs come with a digital copy of the film, if you buy the deluxe edition. They could do the same for books. When you go to Barnes & Noble or Borders or wherever, if you buy the 'deluxe edition' of whatever book you want, you would get a code that would be assigned to your account when you use it, getting you a digital copy of the book in which format you choose. (Wow, that was a nice run-on sentence!) I know the digital copies of movies I have gotten are attached to my iTunes account and are listed as 'purchased' even though I didn't actually buy them.

Just my $0.02
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