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Old 07-13-2010, 03:39 PM   #16
simplyparticular
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You've got a lot of arguments going on. I don't agree that all of them are related to eBooks.

Bookstores (chain or independent) and libraries, are organized by genre. I can avoid Christian fiction (young adult, Wiccan, self-help, fill-in-the-blank) there by skipping that section. And if I accidentally pick one up off an end-cap or display table, there is usually a genre tag on the book, or the description makes it pretty clear. Or a quick flip through the first chapter tells me whether it's a book I want. So blaming eBooks for people being narrow/personal in their book choices is not accurate. People expect information to be able to make a decision on buying. It's that information that is often lacking in the eBook world.

I think what you are really concerned about is the online reader review feature that most eBookstores offer. Back in the "good old days," authors were largely insulated from negativity - if a book critic ripped your book, well, it was just one review. Now that authors are exposed directly to the thoughts of purchasers, there seems to be more sensitivity. I worked for a time at a independent publisher and am still in touch with a few of the authors, and while their books get lots of good reviews on Amazon, etc, like all human beings, they key in on the negative reviews.

Where I do think eBooks come into play in your argument - I think eBook readers will be more reactionary with their reviews than pBook readers because eBooks don't provide the same ability to judge a book before downloading. Even if a book is free, we've invested precious reading time in it. If I've wasted time reading a book I felt was misrepresented, yes, I'm going to sound off about it online.

And now that authors are self-publishing, there is no marketing dept to carefully craft a strategy of attracting buyers. And frankly, most authors don't know anything about promotion. Too many books on SmashWords have the vaguest descriptions, clearly designed in the hopes of capturing the widest group of readers. Big mistake, as far as I'm concerned, since they are just going to tick off more readers than they attract.

Last edited by simplyparticular; 07-13-2010 at 03:53 PM. Reason: added libraries to second paragraph
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by simplyparticular View Post
People expect information to be able to make a decision on buying. It's that information that is often lacking in the eBook world.

[...]

Where I do think eBooks come into play in your argument - I think eBook readers will be more reactionary with their reviews than pBook readers because eBooks don't provide the same ability to judge a book before downloading. Even if a book is free, we've invested precious reading time in it. If I've wasted time reading a book I felt was misrepresented, yes, I'm going to sound off about it online.
I have to agree with this. I just bought an e-book whose content was not what I expected, because of the lack of information on the retailer's site. Though I also have to say the same happened to me with a paper book I bought from Amazon.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:10 PM   #18
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However reading ebook reviews of other people's work, both here and at other sites, I cannot help but feel the fundamental compact between writer and reader is breaking down. Writers are being judged not on the book they have written but on the book the reader wanted them to write.
I agree with the others here. I think you're just seeing the impact that the internet can have on an author. Instead of dealing with one bad review from a book reviewer in a newspaper, now anyone can voice their opinions.

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There are people here that have said they will not download any Christian fiction. […] In another thread here a writer was criticized for his use of religious swearing. I haven't yet read his book but I have little doubt he chose the vocabulary that he thought his characters would use.
I think the "no Christian fiction" thing is backlash from some of the forums being filled with free/cheap fiction in that category. It could also be that certain people have had bad experiences with that type of book (ie – bad formatting, bad writing, bad plotting, whatever). By way of example, I won't read anything that is self-published unless I hear good things word-of-mouth or through reviews because I've been burnt too many times. Since anyone can epublish it really increases the amount of dreck out there that I have to wade through to find the gems. I'm simply not willing to waste my time going through it all when there are over 150 book on my tbr list that I know I want to read and stand a good chance of liking.

As for the swearing thing, again I think it's the impact of the internet reviewing process. Anyone can loudly voice their opinion, but it's not necessarily the opinion of the masses. It's just one person being very vocal about their morals. (And is that really anything new? Think back to the "wardrobe malfunction" that happened that one Superbowl.)

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Is the craft of a writer to hold a mirror up to reality or offer an idealized version of it which has been shaped for the individual prejudices of the reader?
The writer needs to write as he or she feels is best. Some writers challenge us and our perceptions, others are great for an afternoon escape.

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Perhaps because ebook reading software is installed on devices as personal as phones, the reader now seems to expect and demand a more personalized experience, reflecting the language and themes only of his choosing in his selected literature. If there is now a right not to be offended it is a misguided one, because literature and great writers should be able to challenge us.
I don't think it has anything to do with being offended and the 'right' not to be offended. Some authors have been writing controversial things for eons and there's always some sort of public outrage. Ebook reading hasn't change that in the slightest.

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In dictating exactly what we want to read it seems that that we are losing faith in the skill of the writer[…]
Oh, my how I've lost faith in the skill of the writer! As I said above, with self e-publishing being so easy, anyone can publish their awful grammar and non-stories. It's incredibly frustrating from the point of this reader. I've learned what categories to stay away from. And yes, I think categories are good: they allow individuals to make broad decisions as quickly as possible. Else I'd be frozen from decision paralysis with all the choices of books I could read.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitech_luddite View Post
In another thread here a writer was criticized for his use of religious swearing. I haven't yet read his book but I have little doubt he chose the vocabulary that he thought his characters would use. Is the craft of a writer to hold a mirror up to reality or offer an idealized version of it which has been shaped for the individual prejudices of the reader?

You are probably referring to my post about Jon Spoelstra's book "Red Chaser". Even if not a direct reference, it still fits.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. The author is free to write whatever they want, and the reader is free to review and criticize however they want. It's part of the exchange of ideas. My comments in that thread were probably a little strong, but it was how I felt about it.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:34 PM   #20
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There have always been certain genres that I read and others that I avoid and it matters not the medium. I love military science fiction and romance. I like general science fiction, fantasy, some paranormal and the odd chick lit. I actively dislike mysteries especially police oriented ones and religious fiction. Occasionally, I'll read some horror or a thriller. I also read non-fiction with history/biography at the top followed by computer/programming. Ebooks just make it a lot more convenient to have a library that I chose close by.

Even though I miss eclectic bookstores, the convenience of the internet more than makes up for it. I can always find plenty to read.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:07 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by jasonfedelem View Post
You are probably referring to my post about Jon Spoelstra's book "Red Chaser". Even if not a direct reference, it still fits.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. The author is free to write whatever they want, and the reader is free to review and criticize however they want. It's part of the exchange of ideas. My comments in that thread were probably a little strong, but it was how I felt about it.
emphasis mine.

I agree totally. If the author can't take some criticism, you either need to develop a thicker skin or get out of the business.

You as an author are in the business of pleasing me the reader, not the other way around. Get back to work...
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:15 AM   #22
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Do Ebooks Make the Reading Experience Too Narrow and Personal?
I don't think that has anything to do with ebooks. But more with the increased ease we can communicate with strangers. And personal? Yes, it's much easier to look up the author and send him/her emails about what you liked and didn't like about the book.

For me, ebooks have broadened my reading experience. I've been reading books I'd never heard of, by authors I've never heard of. Before, I was "bound" by the books my library decided I should read (and this was fine when I lived at home, as I had a huge library close by, but when I moved, I moved to a small provincial town, with a library with only a small selection. I stopped going there as I never found "new" authors...). I just can't keep on buying all those paper books (we've actually moved twice now, partly because we didn't have room for books anymore ), but with ebooks, space is not an issue.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:41 AM   #23
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nice point . . . but it's not personal . . . :-D
it makes it narrow but in a good manner . . . :-p
i love to read books lying on the bed and loved that they are always in my pocket . . . (:
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:30 AM   #24
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I'd like to add that reading is a personal experience to me, and has always been, and that's why I like it so much

Also, I don't believe there is a compact between writers and readers. Writers must write, and readers must read. A writer can be lucky enough to write what readers want to read, or not. If I don't like a book, I don't expect the writer to change it for me. I just read something else. On the other hand, I might say, sometimes loudly, why I didn't like this book. The difference now is that there is a bigger chance you, the writer, will hear/read what I, the reader, think of your book. You, the writer, have to learn to deal with this. For me, it doesn't change much to my reading experience.

I also agree that some people seem rather narrowly focused on some themes or genres. I don't know if that is new, or newly visible, but it certainly is made worse by Internet features such as social sites or recommendations, as the ones on Amazon. Nothing to do with e-books. I personally try to stay away from recommendations because I found out that they tend to put me in a rut by presenting more and more of books "similar" (in a very narrow definition) to the ones I just read. But it's harder to avoid now, because it's more difficult to get lost in a virtual bookstore than in a real one. But again, nothing to do with e-books. I've been buying books on Amazon for longer than I've been reading e-books.

What I really miss about brick-and-mortar bookstores (the good ones) are the recommendations. I know a bookstore where all I have to do is walk in and look at their selection, I know there will be something good for me there. At Amazon, it's replaced by "best-selling" rankings and "you might also like" proposals, which can be useful but are much too narrow.

Some people don't mind that and want to read the same kind of books over and over. I think they're missing on a lot, but maybe not. And maybe one day they will grow tired of it and look somewhere else. It's easy to find books you may not have thought of reading: in libraries, in bookshops, on the Internet (here at MR for example), in other books, in magazines and newspapers, from what friends and relatives tell you of their reading... all you have to do is want to find them, or simply be open-minded. THAT will never be available in any store
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:12 PM   #25
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As far as narrowing the experience, it would be nice to see more free ebooks that are not novels. However, I understand that this is the market at work and if I want a non-fiction book, I'll pony up the money for it.

I do get a lot of books from PG. However, for the person who only buys from Kindle store, the predominance of fiction in the free dept may narrow the experience some there.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:52 AM   #26
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I think reading experience is always personal, no matter what it is. ebooks made you have another Convenient way to read and share. You just need some time to get used to it.

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Old 07-20-2010, 01:59 PM   #27
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In my experience, ebooks have opened up people to new stuff they may have not ordinarily read, largely due to the amount of free or cheap reading material. You'll always have people complaining about what wasn't written, since most people have opinions on how they, themselves, could do it better.
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:03 PM   #28
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In my experience, ebooks have opened up people to new stuff they may have not ordinarily read, largely due to the amount of free or cheap reading material.
I have always been an avid library user and not a consumer of books-for-sale, for the most part (some exceptions apply). Ebooks have really opened up my scope and encouraged me to try new books that I never would have considered before. I even buy books that I would not have before. If I read a free book/short story by someone, and I find I enjoy the writing and the story line, I am very likely to buy another of the author's works, if available in ebook format. So for me, it has actually widened my scope rather than narrowed it. It has certainly introduced me to authors I never would have "discovered" otherwise.

When the risk is non-existent (free ebooks, easily downloaded to my device), I am willing and eager to explore!
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