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View Poll Results: Does your ebook buying actually cannibalize a hardback sale?
I never bought books at all (borrowed from library, friends etc.) 6 1.97%
I bought books, but not full-price hardbacks (remainders, paperbacks, used books) 184 60.53%
I did use to buy full-price hardbacks and now boy ebooks (cannibalizing the sales) 66 21.71%
Other 48 15.79%
Voters: 304. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-13-2009, 04:12 PM   #1
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Did anyone actually defect to ebooks from hardcovers?

I keep hearing about how worried the publishers are about the ebooks because they think the people who bought ebook readers are the people who used to buy the hardbacks, but I have yet to encounter a single reader for whom this is true. Most ebook readers seem to be one of two types:

1) They did used to buy books, but never/seldom new hardbacks. They used to buy paperbacks, remaindered hardbacks or used book store books

2) They never bought any books and did all their reading from the library or from books they borrowed off other people

Reasons they have for buying ebooks are either the convenience (I can buy it right now at midnight from home etc.) or for archival/storage (don't need three houses worth of shelves to store them). I really have never met a single reader who used to buy full-priced hardbacks and is now costing the publishers those sales by opting for cheaper ebooks.

So, does such a mythical reader exist? Can we, in what is arguably the biggest ebook readers gathering place on-line find a single reader who actually has defected to the e-side from Fullpricehardbackland?
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:25 PM   #2
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Over the years I've picked up a lot of remaindered books. Price is an important factor for me.

Right now I am interested primarily in public domain books. The books that appeal to me often go for $12.99-$14.99 in paperback.

So with eBook readers going for $150-$250, a device will pay for itself in 12-16 books. That seems like a good bargain to me.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:29 PM   #3
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I bought hardcovers from Amazon - used - at pennies on the dollar - and built up a collection of "like new" hardbacks of my favorite authors. Never bought a hardcover at full price - can't justify paying over $20 for one book.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:35 PM   #4
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I bought and still buy occasional hardcovers, if a book is one I want in hardcover I'll get it that way. It's paperback sales that ebooks have cannibalized here.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
So, does such a mythical reader exist? Can we, in what is arguably the biggest ebook readers gathering place on-line find a single reader who actually has defected to the e-side from Fullpricehardbackland?
I have bought full-price hardbacks in the past. But I no longer buy them, except occasionally as presents for people.

But even when I was buying hardbacks, I by no means only or even mostly bought hardbacks. I mostly bought paperbacks, and then often second-hand.

Since switching to ebooks I'd say I've put a lot more money into the publishing industry's hands than I ever did before ebooks.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:37 PM   #6
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I'm guilty of having bought two or five hardcovers, if they were on offer, and then only because of convenience. I have friends back in greece who love particular authors and are anxious to get their hands on their latest books, but it's not certain that these books will even come to greece, and if they order online there are the postage costs to consider. So if my visit to greece coincides with a new publication, I may pick the hardcover for them as a present. I'm always angry when I'm forced to do so however. Hardcovers are unreasonably expensive, bulky and difficult to hold, take up too much self space, and don't even have the outstanding quality that would give a meaning to their existence.

Hardcovers in my opinion should be beautifully bound books, sold LATER rather than sooner than ebooks and paperbacks, to people who want to build and display a beautiful library and collectors. There will always be such a niche. NOT to people that just want to read now.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:45 PM   #7
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I keep hearing about how worried the publishers are about the ebooks because they think the people who bought ebook readers are the people who used to buy the hardbacks, but I have yet to encounter a single reader for whom this is true. Most ebook readers seem to be one of two types:

1) They did used to buy books, but never/seldom new hardbacks. They used to buy paperbacks, remaindered hardbacks or used book store books

2) They never bought any books and did all their reading from the library or from books they borrowed off other people
The poll could use another option: people who buy hardcovers and ebooks.

I fit that that category. I have a large number of hardcovers, and still buy them. Some are remaindered editions, and some are book club versions, but some are regular trade editions.

For me, ebooks are an additional format, and not a replacement for paper volumes. I like ebooks because I can carry a library in my pocket, the ability to use them for archival storage, and the fact that some things, like computer tech volumes, are far more useful in a searchable electronic form.

But some things aren't a good fit for ebooks. I collect some children's books, for example, and have found electronic editions of books illustraded by people like Caldecott and Rackham. They have color illustrations. Current ebook readers using eInk screens don't support color. Sorry, but Arthur Rackham converted to gray scale just doesn't cut it.

Another example are "coffee table" volumes, like some of the photography books put out by people like Aperature. They really need a large display area, and the detail and fidelity provided by things like 300 DPI printing. Again, even for B&W work, extant ereaders simply can't do the work justice.

For folks for whom ebooks are an acceptable solution for everything they read, ebooks might cut into hardcover sales. I'm not one of them.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:55 PM   #8
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I've always bought a lot of books but never many hardbacks, and for the last few years before I got my ebook reader I got probably 95% or more of my books used. Over the last 10 years or so I probably purchased an average of around 5 paperbacks per year new (maybe less) and in that same time period I bought exactly 2 hardbacks (the last 2 Harry Potter books - couldn't wait for the paperbacks, and since they're not available legally in ebook form I would have bought them regardless).

Like pdurrant, the publishers are getting a lot more money from me now than they ever did when I was reading exclusively pbooks, even though I now use the library a lot, which wasn't an option for me before I got my reader (the nearest branch I could borrow from was 65 miles away).
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:57 PM   #9
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I did buy hardbacks when they were by my very favourite authors - but as they cost around A$55 each in Australia I didn't buy that many. I bought more paperbacks.

What the publishers aren't taking into account is increased sales. To buy hardbacks I went into the city. There are all kinds of other interesting stores competing for my money there e.g. craft shops.

When I get online to an ebook retailer I usually get carried away and buy far too many books. More than I can read - and certainly more than I could carry home on the train.

So far in December I have bought 52 ebooks (O.K. so 21 were Harlequins). That means the publishers (those who sell eversions of their books) have made more money out of me than they did before I got my readers (3 of them).

Is there a 12 step plan for people addicted to ebook buying?
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:58 PM   #10
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I bought and still buy occasional hardcovers, if a book is one I want in hardcover I'll get it that way. It's paperback sales that ebooks have cannibalized here.
This is pretty much indicative of my buying habits. If it's a favorite author and I have purchased the hardcover in the past, I will probably buy it again. The only problem is, I keep trying to change the page with a thumb sweep! Although, I have found myself holding off buying the hardcover more frequently in favor of waiting for the ebook. In all honesty, I just like reading on my Reader better than reading a paperbook. Therefore, I chose <Other>.
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:19 PM   #11
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as I said in another thread I have bought hardback books at an almost ridiculous amount. I seriously doubt I will ever buy another fiction hardback for myself again
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:34 PM   #12
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I've purchased hard covers, paperbacks and audiobooks (tapes, CDs and digital). I was never that big on the library as an adult, or used hardcover/paperbacks.

Now, I'm mostly all ebooks or audiobooks and only hard covers for Stephen King (which I collect).
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:50 PM   #13
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Heck, I still buy hardbacks, if I have a good coupon or other discount, or if the book isn't available in e-book format. But sometimes I look for the e-book now. Maybe publishers should start putting extras in the hardbacks, in the same way movie studios load DVDs with everything from commentary and deleted scenes to free T-shirts. Or heck, learn from Baen and include CDs with the hardbacks. (Buy the hardback and get a free e-book. Or so.) If they want sales to go up quickly, then they can include them only with the first printing, or only with the first thousand books, encouraging people to buy the hardback more quickly.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:09 PM   #14
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buy more

Yeah I have to agree with others that the publishers are getting more money from me now. I used to buy more than 50% of my books at a used bookstore, also checking a good portion out from the library and lastly buying paperbacks. I only bought on sale hardbacks.

Now I am not buying at the used book store because I am buying a ebook copy instead. Though I suppose major publishers are losing some money from me as I buy regularly from more obscure publishers as well as the big publishing houses now.


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Old 12-13-2009, 06:10 PM   #15
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Or heck, learn from Baen and include CDs with the hardbacks. (Buy the hardback and get a free e-book. Or so.) If they want sales to go up quickly, then they can include them only with the first printing, or only with the first thousand books, encouraging people to buy the hardback more quickly.
Note that Baen does not do that with all hardcovers, and has done the "bound in only to first printing" hardcover edition.

Results are occasionally quirky. For instance, I bought the Baen hardcover of the David Weber/Eric Flint collaboration _Torch of Freedom_. The bound in CD normally includes the ebook version of the hardcover as well. Not this time: apparently, the finalized ebook version was not available when the CD had to go to manufacture. It's the first time I've had that experience, though one of the John Ringo ebooks on another CD was the Advanced Reading Copy version for similar reasons. That was actually fun, as the ARC included things like John's notes to himself and to his editor scattered throughout the manuscript.
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