Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amazon Publishing to buy Marshall Cavendish Children's division.

Marshall Cavendish just announced yesterday that Amazon Publishing is buying the Marshall Cavendish Children's Book group. I'm not sure what to think about it yet, but I hope it ends up being a good thing for my 2 picture books that will be coming out fall 2012 from Marshall Cavendish. Here's a link to the press release about it. http://www.marshallcavendish.us/marshallcavendish-us/news/AmazonCCB.xml

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Reviews on Children's Books

On my old Web site I posted book reviews written by young readers on the books they enjoyed reading. I have now added those book reviews to my new site at www.kenbakerbooks.com in a section called Kid Picks. I plan to add newer reviews to it from time to time. Check it out and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coming soon! Librarian booktalks and interviews

In the coming days or weeks, I plan to introduce a new regular feature to this blog, where I will interview children's librarians across the country to hear what they have to say about what kids are reading or why they're not reading. Some posts will be like mini-book talks, others will have advice for other librarians, parents and young readers, and others will offer a glimpse into the life of children's librarians. Anyway, I'm excited about it and I hope you are too. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Value of Publishing Options

One of the discussion forums I’m on asks why authors would continue to try to go the traditional publishing route now that there are e-books and self publishing? First off, self-publishing has always been an option. The difference today is that e-books provide an easier, much more pervasive vehicle for self-publishing than what print-only offered in the past. So one of the questions that really needs to be asked is what value does traditional publishing provide over self-publishing?

Some of the values that self-publishing delivers, includes:
  • No barriers to entry (This is also a negative, since it opens the floodgates to low quality stories)
  • Faster time to market
  • More control
  • Higher royalty percentage (However, this doesn’t necessarily promise higher actual revenue)

Some of the values that traditional publishing delivers, includes:
  • Built-in distribution sales channel and marketing for both print and electronic versions
  • Team of seasoned experts that contribute to all aspects of the book publishing journey, such as story editors, line editors, cover artists, layout designers, PR people, salespeople, production team, and more.
  • Inherent stamp of approval for major book chains and distribution channel in terms of book quality
  • Inherent stamp of approval for readers in general (While this might eventually become less of a factor as ebooks evolve, with some exceptions I believe for the present most readers will choose traditionally published books over self-published)
  • Higher chance of success (While I don’t have numbers to back this up, I would predict that on average traditionally published books have a higher per-book sell-through rate than self-published books. Please feel free to provide numbers that confirm or dispute this)

Of course there are cons to both options too. Self-publishing typically requires an upfront investment by the author as well as increased marketing effort by the author. Even though traditional publishing is requiring more from its authors in terms of marketing, it’s hasn’t yet reach the level required by the self-publisher for success. Traditional publishing also has cons, the foremost of these being that it has a very high barrier to entry. Some feel that barrier is too high. For me there is actually value in that barrier and it’s worth it to me to spend years and significant effort breaking through it. I also place significant value on having a team of experts backing me up. I look at that as a key ingredient to my long-term success as an author.

So, the question really comes down to, what do you want as an author? If you’re a great marketer yourself, if you don’t think you need the expertise that publishers provide or you just simply want to have a book published, then self-publishing might be your best publication path. If you want a team of experts to contribute to your success and you’re willing to put the effort in to join their team, traditional publishing might be the best route.

While to some, this post might seem like a contradiction to my post of the other day, it’s really not. Both publishing routes deliver a set of values, but the importance of each those values will change based on individual author perspective and as the publishing landscape continues to evolve and change in the wake of the digital revolution.

Also, I know that the above is just a short list of the values that both routes offer. Feel free to add to the list in your comments below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Author Platform: Friend or Foe?

Over the past few weeks I’ve read a number of articles that talk about the importance of author platforms for increasing book sales. One of the main concepts of the author platform is to create an instant audience for your books through those who follow you via social media, whether it’s your web site, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. Consulting editor, Alan Rinzler has a great article on The “New Author” Platform – What You Need to Know . Along those same lines, children’s author and SCBWI regional adviser, Kathleen Temean has some great ideas on her blog post today on how to drive traffic to your web site. Additionally, well-known blogger and literary agent, Rachelle Gardner talks in her blog today about why author platforms are so important to agents and publishers.

These are just a few examples of great articles on the how-to’s and importance of the author platform, and I will definitely continually refer to them as try to build up my own platform. But as I read these and so many other articles like them, it makes me wonder if publishers and agents are slowly putting themselves out of business with the increasing emphasis that they place on authors creating their own audience and promoting themselves. It’s obvious that the days are long gone when an author could sit in seclusion, cranking out new books and then passing them off to their agent or publisher to market and sell. But if more and more of the marketing and promotion responsibility falls to the author, what role does that leave for the publisher and agent?

I have long been an advocate of going the traditional publishing route versus the self-publishing route. One of the main reasons for that has been that I’m not an expert in book distribution, promotion and sales. While I enjoy speaking at conferences and doing school visits, I want to be a full time author, not a full time marketer. But if traditional publishing continues down its current path, that might be exactly what I need to do to be a successful author.

Of course, another important role for the traditional publisher and agent is to be the gatekeeper, to make sure only the highest quality books make it to market. But with the exponential rise of epublishing, are they really needed as gatekeepers anymore? Word of mouth and social interchanges of discerning readers have the ability to determine which books are worth reading or not. In many ways, traditional publishers and agents are being seen by many authors as road blocks to publication rather than vehicles to publication.

It reminds me of an interchange I had with an author friend about a year ago, in which I was suggesting that she steer clear of the self-publishing route and go with a traditional publisher. She basically said, “Been there, done that. It was a financial fiasco.” She then told me that due to the publisher’s standard royalty rate that she didn’t make nearly as much money as she thought she could. Inwardly I thought, well that’s just the way it is; the publisher gets their cut, the distributor gets their cut, and retail gets their cut. That’s life. But then she told me about her author platform of more than 30,000 dedicated followers who would instantly buy her new book whether or not it came from a traditional publisher. She built up her author platform so well that she really didn’t need any more of what the publisher had to offer her.

Along similar lines, an article two days ago in the New York Times talks about how Amazon’s vision of end-to-end publishing services has publishers running scared because it leaves them completely out of the publishing loop. For authors that have built up a popular marketing platform, Amazon offers a compelling and more profitable option than the traditional route.

Although, I’m still an avid proponent of the role that traditional publishers and agents can play in regard to author success, as the ebook industry evolves and as publishers and agents shift more and more of what used to be their responsibility to the author I have to wonder what role they will leave for themselves, if any.

What are your thoughts about the growing emphasis on the author platform and self-promotion?

How do you see that increased emphasis affecting the role of publishers and agents?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Advice to Aspiring Authors

Every once in a while I'm contacted by aspiring writers for advice on how to get started as a children's book author.  Whether they want to write picture books, chapter books or YA, my advice is pretty much the same. First I tell them that it’s great that they’re interested in writing a children’s/YA book, but then I warn them that having a children’s book published is not an easy endeavor. It’s a very competitive business. A single publisher might receive about 20,000 manuscripts in a single year from potential authors. Of those 20,000, the publisher might publish anywhere between 5 and 30 books, depending on the publisher’s size and needs. I don’t say this to discourage them, but I say it to give them the proper perspective of what they’re getting into.

If they’re serious in their publishing pursuit, here are some of the main suggestions I give them:

1. Attend local or national children's writing conferences. Not only will writing conferences teach you much of what you need to know, they're great places to make contacts with other authors as well as editors and agents. Preferably, you’ll want to look for conferences where national authors, editors, and agents attend to present their insights on writing and getting published. A good resource for finding about some of those events can be found at www.scbwi.org/Regional-Events.aspx.

2. Join a critique group. A critique group can give you objective advice on your stories. Once again, SCBWI is a good resource for finding out about local critique groups. Even if you’re not a member of SCBWI, the regional coordinator for your area would likely be happy to tell you about critique groups in your area. (www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Regional-Chapters).

3. Attend writing workshops. Quite often different published authors offer workshops. This might be authors local to your area or ones that happen to be visiting your area in conjunction with a book tour. Simply do a Google search for writing workshops in your area.

4. Do your research. Read different books on writing children’s books.  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold Underdown is a good book to read, as is the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market by Writer’s Digest. For longer works, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas is an excellent resource. There are also a lot of Web sites and blogs with good information too, such as www.underdown.org and www.verlakay.com.

5. Reads lots of current children’s books. If you’re not reading what’s being written and bought today in your genre of choice, you won’t have the familiarity you need with what sells in today’s market. Read as many books as you can.

 If you have other suggestions for the aspiring author, please share.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Agent and editor blurbs?

I received a positive rejection yesterday from an editor on an YA I wrote a few years back. I'll take a personalized, positive rejection over a form rejection or no-response any day. It builds your confidence when an editor takes the time to say some nice things about your work. But at the same time, they're saying "Thanks, but no thanks." So, no matter how many personalized, positive rejections you get, it's still a rejection. It still hurts. It's still not what you're working towards.

Regardless, it got me thinking, half in jest and half serious, about the idea of including agent/editor blurbs in my next submission. Something like, here's what editors and agents are saying about my YA techno-thriller. Of course, you'd leave out all the reasons they didn't want it, maybe leaving you with something resembling book cover blurbs like the following:

"Compelling main character!" "Intriguing high stakes premise!" "Great hook!"

Even though I'm tempted to do it, I realize it's not a good idea. While it sounds like it provides positive validation for the story, what it actually does is draw the editor's attention to the fact that it's already been rejected by a number of others. You don't need the editor or agent thinking rejection before they've even had a chance to read your work.

So, as tempting as it might be, the better solution is to keep working on improving your writing and make your queries irresistible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me

Guest blogger and teen girl reviewer reviews Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me

Kristen Chandler’s title may suggest the popular theme of supernatural creatures, but no vampires or werewolves exist in this city.  All 17 year old and social outcast KJ wants is to survive high school in her small Montana town, but Virgil, the new kid from Minnesota, without warning starts a reaction that changes KJ as well as the whole town’s lives.  As her and Virgil start falling for each other, their small town outside Yellowstone National Park starts consequently falling apart.  Neighbor turns against neighbor, friends against friends.  Through all the turmoil, though, KJ begins to find her voice and confidence, standing up to the bullies of her school and villains of the town, creating a turning point for her whole town.

Chandler has created a rare type of book, one that does include the fun but short-lived teenage romances, but also the more emotional issues of an average teenager’s life: low self esteem and feeling to small to make a difference, needing to find the confidence to overcome opposition, family and issues at home, and the need to be loved.  Her book doesn’t just graze over problems, having a “happily ever after.”  Instead, she realistically writes of possible outcomes to real life and common situations, including all awkward, sad, happy and uncomfortable.  These realistic results make it quite easy to connect with the characters, making the book even more enjoyable.  Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, specifically to the teenage and young adults.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: The Looking Glass Wars


Guest blogger and teen boy reviewer reviews The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars is a novel similar to Alice in Wonderland. You think it’s just the same as Lewis Carroll’s novel however Frank Beddor adds different twists and turns that keep you guessing on what will happen next. Not only are there unexpected twists and turns Frank Beddor added extraordinary details so you have an exact image of what is going on in the story.

Instead of adding the same exact characters as in Alice in Wonderland the author adds different characteristics and features about each of the characters. There is a wider variety of characters and items in the novel.

This novel was a fantastic book. It’s one of the books that you just can’t stop reading and you never want it to end. I would definitely recommend this book. This was an amazing book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Updated sketches

Received updated sketches for Old MacDonald had a Dragon the other day. It's looking great! I can't wait to see the final art, or the book itself, which will come out Fall 2012

Monday, August 1, 2011

Floods of Life


Sometimes life encroaches on our ability to get much writing done. Three weeks ago I came home from a family vacation to find our house flooded from a loose fridge/icemaker hose. My basement office was one of the rooms hits. So, dealing with the aftermath and being displaced from my office has made it difficult to do as much writing as I'd like, let alone post to my blog.

What are some of the routine things or difficulties of life that keep you from your writing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: The Beyonders

Guest blogger and teen girl reviewer reviews The Beyonders

Jason Walker has been thrust into a new world, a world full of cowards, fallen heroes and the malicious magician Maldor. His destiny has found him as he takes on an adventure to not only save himself, but this whole civilization from the kingship of the evil wizard. His plan: find the single word that can destroy Maldor.

Brandon Mull, author of the Beyonders as well as the best selling Fablehaven series, has created the beginning to a unique and entirely unpredictable trilogy. Full of excitement and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, Beyonders definitely entertains and meets expectations. It is well worth the read.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bugling Muscles


Spell checkers are wonderful things, but they’re no substitute for human eyes. The other day I was editing a YA novel I’m working on and discovered that one of my characters has “bugling muscles”. What do muscles look like when they are bugling? How does a muscle bugle? What songs do muscles play when they bugle? Even though my spell checker didn’t see anything wrong with muscles that bugle, I decided I preferred to have my character’s muscles bulge.

While keeping it clean, what are some of your funnier misspellings that the spell checker missed?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Children's Literacy Leads to Success

Here's a nice story in a Colorado newspaper about its Lt. Governor visiting an elementary school to promote literacy as a driving force for kids' success. I've always felt that regular daily reading to children from a very young age and up is key to their success in school, work and life in general. This is a nice article that talks a little about that, and coincidentally, Brave Little Monster is one of the books that the Lt. Governor reads to the children to promote literacy. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Uncovering Invisible Story Problems

Sometimes when you write a story, it seems like all the pieces just fit together perfectly. You’ve nailed the voice, pacing, plot, setting, characters, tone, and so on. You think, there’s no way you can make it any better. It’s perfect. But a funny thing happens when someone else reads it; they don’t get it or they think it’s okay, but not great, or they just don’t like it. What happened?

Well first off, everyone has different tastes. What you like, might not be liked by everyone else. As the old saying goes, you can’t make everybody happy all the time— or something like that.

But there’s something else going on that makes your perfect story not so perfect to other people. When you write something, there’s a personal connection between you and the piece. The words you frame take on a personal meaning to you that often go beyond the printed page. While you might be reading the exact same words as someone else, you’re interpretation of them is far different due to your personal or unique understanding of those words. That unique insight or understanding often bridges gaps or overrides problems that others will see in the story who do not share that same insight or interpretation. That’s why critique groups are so essential.

A good critique group helps you see problems or solutions that you often are unable to see on your own. From lifetimes built on different experiences and circumstances than your own, they can see the imperfections in what you once believed to be the perfect story. By bringing those imperfections to light, you have the opportunity to make your story even better.

However, taking advice from a critique group can be tricky. What if you don’t agree with what they say? Well, the choice is always yours as to whether or not you act on that advice. The truth is that sometimes critique group members might give you bad advice. But if you find that multiple critiquers are giving you the same or similar suggestions, even if you don’t agree with it, it pays to try to understand why they are saying what they’re saying. Ultimately, that usually points to a problem that needs fixing one way or another.

The point is that to make your story the best it can be you need the help of others. You need readers that can look at your story from a perspective different and removed from your own. You need readers that will point out problems that you don’t want to admit or believe are there. You need readers who will be honest in their assessment, and can give you constructive suggestions on how to address them. But perhaps the hardest things is that you need to be able to hear those problems and receive those suggestions without taking them personal, and with an attitude that they present an opportunity to make a good story great.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don’t Give into Characters’ Desires


Pulling readers into your story and escalating their interest requires creating, building and maintaining the right level of tension. However, sometimes as an author you might have the tendency to sabotage the tension you’ve created by giving into your character’s desires.

For example, to create tension in your story you might put your character in a precarious life and death situation that they really want to get out of fast. Instead, of building on that tension you might decide you don’t want your character to have to endure their emotional suffering too long, so you give them a fairly quick escape. When you do, you often relieve the story tension (and reader’s interest) prematurely. Building the optimal amount of tension often requires dragging your character through unbearable long-lasting tortures (physical, emotional or intellectual). Just when things seem like they couldn’t be any worse for your character, what you really need to do is find a way to make them even worse.

Of course, readers can reach a point of tension overload, which can also cause them to stop reading. So you have to be careful not to overdo their suffering and you occasionally have to relieve some of the tension so readers can breathe their own sigh of relief. It in essence becomes a balancing act of creating and building tension levels to a high, sustainable point, but not too high and for not too long.

But ultimately, the point is that no matter how much you love the characters you’ve created, don’t give in too early to their pleas for help. Make them suffer a bit longer, and your readers will love you for it.

What are your thoughts on building story tension?

Image by Carl Glover

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lenses

Guest blogger & teen girl reviewer reviews Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lenses: by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Smedry, the boy blessed with the talent to break things, throws himself amid the battle between the evil Librarians and the kingdom of Mokia: giant robots versus explosive teddy bears. If the Librarians win this battle they will have reached one step closer to completely manipulating the world into believing lies like that there are only 7 continents and that guns are more useful than swords. Using his rare, mysterious talent and crazy Smedry sense of adventure, Alcatraz must save Mokia before they too are overthrown by Librarians. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lenses is full of adventure and contains tons of humor. A great pick for someone who enjoys to laugh.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beware the Boring Back Story

Just about every story has some element of back story that provides critical detail that the reader needs in order to make sense of what is going on. Unfortunately, back story not only tends to be boring, but it can literally pull the reader out of the story and cause them to lose interest if not handled correctly. Imagine a fast paced chase scene packed with action and intensity that gets interrupted by a narrator popping onto to the scene, giving a monologue that explains why the results of the chase scene are so crucial to the story. All the action is suddenly brought to a halt. The intensity is deflated. And you just lost your reader.

Some beginning authors make the common mistake of trying to put all their back story at the beginning of the book, thinking that the story can’t begin unless the reader already knows everything that has happened before. That’s a big mistake, unless you want to lose the reader’s interest in the first few pages. Nor does it work to just drop a big chunk of back story in later chapters either.

One overused way of handling back story, is to leave it in big chunks by including it in a flashback or dream sequence. While this can work, it often has the effect of still pulling the reader out the present action of the story. I’m not saying, you shouldn’t approach back story in this manner, it’s just not always the best method and has become a bit clich√©.

Back story has to be handled with care. It’s usually best if sprinkled and woven into the story in a way that it hardly goes noticed by the reader. One way to do this is to break it down into small pieces that can be injected a piece at a time throughout the course of the story; maybe a quick comment in a dialogue, a tiny memory that a character recalls, a headline on a newspaper (not the entire newspaper article), and as needed, short bits over time from the narrator can be effective if done in an unobtrusive manner.

The point is, be careful about how you handle back story. Pay attention to what it does to the flow and interest level of your story. Find ways to use it to enhance your story, rather than drag it down.

What have been some effective ways that you’ve learned to handle back story?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Curse of the Spam Filter

Spam filters are wonderful things when they keep all the unwanted garbage that would otherwise putrefy and clutter up your inbox. However, they can be a curse as well, keeping out wanted e-mails occasionally. I don't very often check my spam filter for e-mail that really isn't spam, but today a colleague of mine asked if I had been receiving e-mail from one of her colleagues. I hadn't, so I decided I better check my spam filter for it. The e-mail wasn't there, but there was a week-old e-mail trapped in there from a publisher "eager" to read the rest of one my manuscripts. If I hadn't happened to check my spam filter, in a few weeks it would have been purged and I never would have known of their interest.

So tip of the day, it pays to occasionally make sure your spam filter isn't blocking e-mail that you really want.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pushing through the Writing Doldrums

What do you do when you're sick of the book you're working on? This hasn't happened to me often, but it has on an occasion. In talking to other authors this seems to be a common occurrence for most authors. You get bored of working on the same project, or maybe it just doesn't seem as exciting or interesting as when you first started. Or maybe you think the piece just plain ol' stinks.

There's at least two reasons that I think this happens during the writing process. The first one is that maybe,you're right. Maybe it does stink. Maybe it's boring. There have been times when I've been working on a novel that I have started to get bored with it. When this happens, I have to reexamine my writing, because sometimes I'm bored with it because my writing has turned stale or boring. When that happens, I have to figure out what I've done to make it boring and inject new life into it. Maybe I'm not creating enough tension. Maybe I've portrayed my characters as one-dimensional.  Perhaps, I'm failing to make the setting come alive. So, if you ever start losing interest in your writing, first take a hard look at ways you can improve it to make it more interesting.

However, sometimes we get sick of what we're working on simply because we've been working on it for so long that it has become too familiar to us. It's like listening to your favorite song over and over and over again. You love it maybe the first few hundred times, but after awhile you grow sick of it and you hate it. It's not that the song has magically gone bad, but it no longer holds any appeal to you. If this happens in your writing, you have to fight through it and keep writing until you finish it, even if you think every word you write is junk. Maybe it is junk, but that's what rewrites are for. But once you have it finished, you can breathe a sigh of relief, let it sit in your drawer for a while, and then take a fresh look at it to do your rewrites. Chances are that when you do, you'll realize that it isn't nearly bad as you thought it was and that it fact it's pretty good, or at least it will be once you get your rewriting done.

So, once again, what do you do when you're sick of what you're writing?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Hunger Games Trilogy

Guest blogger & teen girl reviewer reviews the The Hunger Games Trilogy:



Katniss Everdeen, living in a future society called Panem, was born and raised in the poorest of districts, district 12 and she dreads the occurrence of the annual Hunger Games. This “game” requires each district to provide 2 tributes, one boy and one girl, whom the Capitol throw into a manipulated arena where only one rule exists, kill or be killed; the last one standing is declared victor. Fate and Chance fall upon Katniss, forcing her into the arena as well as a series of gruesome and agonizing events with co-tribute Peeta Mellark. Katniss inadvertently starts an uprising against the Capitol and is unwillingly turned into a symbol of rebellion and hope.

Suspense fills the pages of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, causing its reader to always sit on the edge of their seats. This trilogy has something for everyone: ongoing and agonizing romance, intensity, action, and cause for contemplation. Read Hunger Games and experience the anxiety of the Arena.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Initial Sketches

Even though the time between signed contract and release of a picture book can be quite long (2+ years), one of the fun things that happens in between is getting to see the illustrator's initial sketches of  the book. Just last week, I received the sketches for "Cow Can't Sleep", which comes out fall of 2012. I love the sketches! They're a lot of fun, and will make Cow Can't Sleep an even funnier story. I wish I could post them for you to see, but I can't. However, to give you a feel for the style of the illustrations, you can see examples of some of the art done by Steve Gray (the illustrator for Cows Can't Sleep) at his web site at http://www.stevegrayillustration.com.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ebooks vs Printed Books Part 3

To gather more insight into the ebook versus printed book debate, take a moment to participate in the poll below:

Note: I apologize but there is an error on the 4th line of the first poll question. It should just say "Read or plan to predominately read ebooks". Unfortunately, blogger doesn't give me a good way to fix this without starting over.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ebooks vs Printed Books Part 2

As I’ve gathered information on what motivates people towards printed books instead of ebooks, I’ve found that many of the motivators are intangible or emotional in nature that will probably make it difficult for ebooks to completely overcome print books. I’ve summarized below the different responses that I have received on my blog as well as on the different social networks I participate in.

Here you go:
  • Some people love the feel, texture, weight and smell of printed books
  • Some people like being able to see the attractive cover of a book while it’s on their nightstand, table, or bookshelf
  • Some people have an emotional, nostalgic feeling toward printed books
  • Printed books do not require batteries
  • Printed books can be read on an airplane during the entire flight, and don’t need to be turned off like ebook readers during take-off and landings
  • ebooks are yet one more electronic appliance that requires a charger that people don’t want to have to deal with.
  • Printed books are more convenient than ebooks for some people
  • More printed books are available from more libraries than ebooks
  • Printed books are easier on the eyes than some ebook readers for some people, especially for long periods of time
  • Printed books are easier to read outside in bright daylight than some ebook readers
  • Some printed books are less expensive than ebooks
  • Some people don’t like having to learn how to use a new gadget just to read a book
  • Printed books can easily be loaned to or from friends
  • Used printed books can often be bought for less than ebooks
  • The probability of malfunction, breakage, or loss of an ebook reader can make them much more expensive than print books
  • It’s more enjoyable to curl up with a good book on a cushy chair or sofa, an experience that would not be as emotionally satisfying with an ebook reader
  • Physically turning or flipping through the pages of a printed book is more satisfying than scrolling the screen of an ebook reader
  • Being able to see the physical representation of pages read is more satisfying
  • Printed books promote shared reading and the close, emotional bond that can be created between parent and child sitting together to read a book
  • Printed books are more accessible and easier to make available to small children
  • Ebooks cannot replicate the emotional feeling and entertainment value that comes from turning the pages of a printed picture book or early reader that is being read aloud to a child
  • With printed books you don’t have the worry that you have with the potential for your ebook reader to crash, causing your entire library to disappear until you can buy a new reader and hopefully recover all your lost ebooks
  • With printed books you don’t have the worry that your ebook vendor might accidentally (or even purposefully) remove from your reader ebooks that you have purchased
  • Some people don’t want to trust their entire library of books to a digital network or storage
  • Some people simply love being surrounded by lots of real books or looking at bookshelves full of past books they’ve enjoyed reading
  • It’s easier for some people to make notes in, mark, or underline text in printed books
  • Ebooks cannot adequately measure up to a beautifully illustrated printed children's book
  • Referring back to previous pages of text with illustrations in printed books is easier for some people
  • People using large font sizes on ebooks have to turn the page more frequently than they do for large type printed books
  • For some people the simplicity of the traditional printed book is much more beautiful and emotionally appealing
Did I miss anything else?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ebooks vs Printed Books Part 1

On my last post I asked for feedback on what motivates people towards ebooks or printed books. I learned a lot from the numerous responses received here and on the different social networks I participate in. I’ve summarized below some of the motivations towards ebooks.

Here's why some people might choose an ebook over a printed book:

- Ebooks save space and don’t require shelf space
- Ebooks are quickly and easily accessible
- Ebooks have the potential to stay in print longer
- Ebooks can be less expensive than print books.
- You can borrow some ebooks from the library with some ebook readers
- Some ebook readers are smaller than some printed books making them easier to carry
- You can store hundreds of ebooks on a single reader, making it easier to bring a large number of books with you
- Ebooks are more environmentally friendly
- You can increase the font size of ebooks making them easier to read with some readers
- Music, audio books, and games can be used on some ebook readers
- Ebooks are easier to read on a crowded commute than print books
- It’s easy to mark your place on ebooks
- Ebooks are more convenient
- Ebook readers have built in dictionaries that make it easy to look up unknown words.
- School textbooks in ebook format would eliminate the need for students to heft so many books in their backpacks
- Ebooks makes it easier to bring more books with you when traveling
- For some people, some ebook readers are less tiring on the eyes than reading printed books
- Easier on the hand, arm, and shoulder muscles to hold than a printed book.
- In other countries (or even rural areas), ebooks in your native language can be more accessible than printed books in your native language
- Using an ebook reader can make it easier to multi-task, such as checking e-mail, making notes, looking up information, and doing research.
- Some ebook readers are easier to read in the dark
- Ebooks are easier to read while lying on your back in bed
- Ebooks are cool!

In my upcoming blogs, I’ll summarize the motivations for printed books, as well as the motivations against ebooks and printed books.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

e-Reader Influencers?

I have never used an e-reader before and I’m not sure I ever will. I like holding a book in my hands when I read. But at the gym the other morning I saw a woman reading with an e-reader while she used the elliptical machine. I thought, now that’s a great use for an e-reader. You don’t have to mess with the pages flipping over on their own or keeping them flat. If you want, you can magnify the size of the letters to make it easier to read. I could see myself using an e-reader in that situation.

Another situation where I could see myself using an e-reader was if I was commuting by train or bus to work. When I was in D.C. last summer I saw a number of commuters on the metro reading with their e-readers. Reading from the bulky pages of a book can be a little difficult when standing on a crowded train. An e-reader minimizes that difficulty.

Still, I’m not certain that I’ll ever embrace e-readers, but I can see their value. In the coming days, I plan to post a survey on my blog that asks people about their tendencies toward e-readers vs paper books, and what types of things might or might not influence them toward or away from e-readers.  To do that, I need a list a potential motivations or questions to ask about. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments below