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Old 08-11-2008, 10:43 AM   #1
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Can this p-moment get replicated in e- ?

A p-book incident happened to me last week that has me wondering if it can somehow be replicated with an e-book?

Here's how it worked:

My wife and I are in Boston. I am working remotely and she's visiting her company. (We both live in Houston.) While in the office, she spied a bunch of small paperbacks folks left around for other people to read. It's an informal library, of sorts, though without any sort of organization. You read a book and liked it? Drop it off and maybe someone else will enjoy it.

She picked up two paperbacks (p-backs?), Wicked among them. I've seen the book off-and-on for years, but didn't truly know what it was about. The back-cover intrigued me. I read it and then the book. Wow. And I never really cared for The Wizard of Oz.

The publisher has made no money off my reading of this book, however it has definitely put me on to more titles by the same author. The publisher will get something from me.

But in an entirely e-world, which is what many of us envision and some of us want, how would my wife have discovered Wicked at all? I don't imagine people will have left flash-drives or SD cards of books on a shelf for other employees to peruse. Even if they did, wouldn't the DRM have prevented me from reading the book? (And were there no DRM, would that not be "piracy?") And what if I didn't have the right reader?

What's more, aren't some publishers especially keen to stop this kind of loaning? To them, my reading of Wicked is a lost sale. Even if I wind up buying most books by Maguire, I still will not have bought that FIRST one.

So, I am back to my original question: Could this p-moment -- this discovering of an unknown (to me) gem of a book on a shelf populated with other enjoyed books -- be replicated entirely in e?

Last edited by tcv; 08-11-2008 at 10:48 AM. Reason: corrections
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:56 AM   #2
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Well, one thing that comes to mind is sites like LibraryThing where you upload your "library" (or rather, titles of the books you've read), and it will come back to you with automatic recommendations (you like X, other people who like X also like Y, so you might like Y) and put you into contact with other people and so on and so forth.

http://www.librarything.com

I don't know if this works without logging in, but this is my LT page, you might get a better idea of what I mean: http://www.librarything.com/home/acidzebra

Last edited by acidzebra; 08-11-2008 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 08-11-2008, 10:58 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcv View Post
So, I am back to my original question: Could this p-moment -- this discovering of an unknown (to me) gem of a book on a shelf populated with other enjoyed books -- be replicated entirely in e?
Not precisely the same, I know, but I buy every months' "Webscriptions" package from Baen. By buying what is, in effect, a completely random package of books, I've discovered all sorts of authors whom I wouldn't have encountered otherwise.
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Completely replicated? No. However, many publishers are working to create situations like that one in the ebook field.

First, some publishers -- Baen and Tor for example -- offer free ebooks to get you interested in their writers and series. Baen is the largest I think in this field of letting you sample whole books with their Baen Free Library. I have sampled many and gone on to purchase many more. Some I had heard great things about and did not care for the writer's style or the characters. Baen saved me a lot of remorse in the style of "why did I ever purchase THAT book?" Other free selections have started me on the road to reading everything they offered by the same writer or all of the books in a given series. Tor has a program (or had a program, I am not sure where it is at the moment) that would give away a complete book every so often to those on its mailing list.

Many ebook sellers -- like Fictionwise -- offer an extended extract of the book for you to read before you buy. Some worked. For me many were fair warnings that this book was not one for me. Result, a happy repeat customer.

There is also another place, the MobileRead download area. These are completely free (depending on the copyright laws where you live.) You may download them, pass them on to other friends, and generally do with them anything you could do with a pbook except resell it. They are not this week's top 10 New York Times sellers but they are excellent books, well produced, and with a full money back warranty.
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:02 AM   #5
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For books that I enjoy I often read the reviews on Amazon (or the like) to see what others thought of the book. Where someone has written a thoughtful or well reasoned review I will read some of their other reviews as well. This has enabled me to discover books by new authors e.g., Jim Butcher where I have purchased whole series.

For your point about "loaned" books, Baen is the obvious example of a publisher who gives away early books by authors (which can be freely copied, as long as you don't charge for them) in order to generate sales of later books.

Whilst not exactly serendipitous examples they do help me discover books and authors I would (possibly) not have otherwise read.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:21 PM   #6
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Baen's webscriptions service (essentially their online bookstore) also does free extended extracts of all their books. In their case, the extract is the first 25% of the book. Should be enough to let you know whether or not you want to spend money on it.

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Old 08-11-2008, 12:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcv View Post
A p-book incident happened to me last week that has me wondering if it can somehow be replicated with an e-book?

Here's how it worked:

My wife and I are in Boston. I am working remotely and she's visiting her company. (We both live in Houston.) While in the office, she spied a bunch of small paperbacks folks left around for other people to read. It's an informal library, of sorts, though without any sort of organization. You read a book and liked it? Drop it off and maybe someone else will enjoy it.

She picked up two paperbacks (p-backs?), Wicked among them. I've seen the book off-and-on for years, but didn't truly know what it was about. The back-cover intrigued me. I read it and then the book. Wow. And I never really cared for The Wizard of Oz.

The publisher has made no money off my reading of this book, however it has definitely put me on to more titles by the same author. The publisher will get something from me.

But in an entirely e-world, which is what many of us envision and some of us want, how would my wife have discovered Wicked at all? I don't imagine people will have left flash-drives or SD cards of books on a shelf for other employees to peruse. Even if they did, wouldn't the DRM have prevented me from reading the book? (And were there no DRM, would that not be "piracy?") And what if I didn't have the right reader?

What's more, aren't some publishers especially keen to stop this kind of loaning? To them, my reading of Wicked is a lost sale. Even if I wind up buying most books by Maguire, I still will not have bought that FIRST one.

So, I am back to my original question: Could this p-moment -- this discovering of an unknown (to me) gem of a book on a shelf populated with other enjoyed books -- be replicated entirely in e?
Maybe someday, yes. Keep in mind that before paperbacks were an option, people didn't leave their pbooks lying around just anywhere either. Granted, it was a long time ago, but there was a time when actually owning a BOOK was an option only to the very wealthy. It's just that it was so long ago, we no longer think about it.

I think we will all agree that it's not piracy if I leave my validly purchased pbook behind for someone else to read. The big reason why is simply because, in leaving the book behind, I have given up my own right to the use of that particular book. If I want to read it again ... I either have to borrow someone else's copy or buy it again.

So, yes ... I can envision a time when there will be one publishing standard format for all e-books, and many places will have wireless "leave a book, take a book" spots where, for the donation of one of your books, you can take a copy of one left there. It's just that once you "leave" your book, you don't have it on your ebook account anymore.

It could be done. I have no idea when or if it will ever happen, but it would be a wonderful thing if it was.
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