Proving that lots of brick-and-mortar book retailers don’t get the new realities of publishing any more than the publishers do James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstone’s a British book chain had this to say about Amazon.com in the London Telegraph:
They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer’s interest. They’re a ruthless, money-making devil. The computer screen is a terrible environment in which to select books. All that ‘If you read this, you’ll like that’ – it’s a dismal way to recommend books. A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want.
Which is of course why Amazon is the largest single book seller in the world and sales of e-books have gone through the roof since the introduction of the Kindle there Jimmy.
Then in a moment of supreme hypocritical irony, he added they were working on their own e-reader a’la Barnes and Noble and the Nook.
You know, there was a time when I would actually have agreed with this twit. Just a year ago, I thought I’d never want an e-reader. “I likes me books,” I was often heard to say.
And it’s true, there is something about a dead tree book no e-reader will ever equal.
Less than a year ago I got my first Android Phone to replace my aging Blackberry. Baen Books had wanted me to do reviews on some of their books, but I didn’t have an e-reader for them to send me eARCs (electronic advanced reader copies, gallery copies which have not undergone a final edit. Possibly even substantially different from the final copy.) The screen was big enough — and my lust for free books strong enough — that I could finally read e-books and so both Naked Reader Press and Baen hooked me up.
Hooked being the right word, because I was instantly addicted — and now lusting for a Kindle, which I got for my birthday.
Do I miss paper books? A bit, perhaps. However I have hundreds I almost never pick up anymore, preferring my Kindle which goes pretty much everywhere with me. I love the fact it also syncs with the app on my phone so my books are now everywhere I am.
Is the Kindle perfect? No. But it is the wave of the future. Whether dedicated e-reader or app on a phone or tablet this is the way people will read in the future. The day is coming when the dead-tree book is a premium purchase for collectors.
Will there still be dead tree publishers?
For the foreseeable future, yes. Will a lot of them be going by the wayside? Yes, they will. And so will more retailers like Boarders, simply because they, like this idiot at Waterstone’s are not adapting with the times.
You see, as readers, and authors (I’m happily both, and my book C:101, based on my columns over at Death by 1000 Papercuts, will be out some time next year on Amazon. No, I’m not waiting for a publisher, I’m doing it myself.) we no longer need the gatekeepers in the publishing industry and the sales industry to tell us what we should read. We have this limitless new world, which Amazon has made possible, where we can read what we like, when we like, where we like.
I’ll miss the hours I spent pouring over books in my local Hastings or Books a Million, but not much. You see, the selections there were limited by nature and there are so many other options now. So while I’ll miss the smell of the stacks, what I won’t miss is hour after hour staring at the cookie cutter titles in the SF and Fantasy section wondering why there’s nothing new or different.
Indeed, my only real complaint is that Amazon has made it entirely too easy for me to impulse buy new books.
*Sigh* There goes my budget again this month.