I want to report that after two years of indiscriminate book reading on paper and screens, I have come to the conclusion that I like reading on-screen more than paper. I did not start this process as an experiment, but I was aware that I should do everything in my power not to be judgmental on either side of the fence as I read.
There’s the obvious issue of being able to change font sizes (my 56-year-old eyes suck), but in addition: I like the compactness of the reading experience; I seem to be able to scan a story better (that is speed up and slow down the reading process); it’s also awesome to set up a catalog of highlighted text with book apps; and I can jump from my phone to my iPad to my Kindle and then to my laptop, meaning that wherever I am whatever I want to read is always with me.
Yes, there are drawbacks to e-books. But, I gotta say, there are drawbacks to everything. I think I still prefer poetry if its in a well-made book, and I can definitely see how books for kids with all those amazing enormous illustrations work better on paper, but for the most part e-books are more “right there” than paper. They really are.
I will now very directly state that I have written all of the above because I’m an independent, self-published author. Most statistics still show that less than half of you use e-readers regularly. My books are available in paper and digital formats, but I gotta tell you, I am only going to be able to earn a living as an author if the majority of people in the world use e-readers most of the time. All of us self-published indie writers need your help and support. You can buy my novel for $14 as a paperback and $5 as an e-book. What more can I say?
Love Your Local Indie Author
Last year I posted recommendations on how to support indie authors during the holidays. You can (and should) read that post by clicking here. In a nutshell, I discuss the following:
- Use the “Gift” option at online book sites. Give your friends and family self-published indie titles early and often.
- Leave “Comments” whenever you go to an author’s website. We love them. We live for them.
- Post “Reviews” of books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and wherever else you can. You don’t have to write an essay. If you liked a book (or didn’t), though, it really helps to let others know that.
- Share author’s book promo info and blog posts through your social media network (a little support goes a long way; see the info below on Tomely, too).
- Buy an E-Reader and go to town with indie books (actually, buy lots of e-readers!)
- Download a reading app for your smartphone and learn the joys of the small screen read (reading on my iPhone is strangely satisfying)
- Reach out and e-mail your favorite indie author (we’re here and we’re hungry to talk about our work…though, not necessarily about what you like for breakfast).
- Send an e-mail blast to your friends and family when you find an indie book you like/love (sometimes I do this. Rattle your peeps cages. Sometimes folks need to be reminded that reading a book can be fun).
- Don’t buy the e-book, get the paperback (most indie writers offer both)
- Go hog wild with $0.99 and Free indie books (See the list of sites below for this)
Recent 2012 statistics indicate that over 341,000 self-published books were registered with the Bowker ISBN service. No one knows how many other books were registered only through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, etc. I’m guessing we’re looking at close to a million self-published titles a year in the U.S. alone.
That’s a very good thing. And I can’t think of a more patriotic activity than supporting independent authors in this odd country we live in where practically all of us know that mainstream media, government, and gargantuan corporate interests seek to feed us a diet of standardized drivel in order to make money off of us. Independent art of all kinds (music, film, books, theater, comedy, painting, sculpture) may be the only thing keeping us sane and grounded.
Alternative Online Book Sellers
I’ll close by offering you alternatives to Amazon and the other big online book sellers. Those guys are counting on you being a lazy little sheep that just shows up at their sites because you don’t know any better. The sites I’m listing below have some great reads to offer that may be pretty hard to track down otherwise.
Tomely This is the best place to buy independent writing on the Internet. Most of their authors and publishers offer highly discounted pricing in exchange for customers sending out messages using Twitter or FaceBook. I’ve got all three of my books here. You can buy Beyond the Will of God or Implosions of America for half price if you broadcast your purchase with social media. Trying to Care, my first book of stories, is free for a Tweet or “Share.”
Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading This is my favorite go-to site for the best modern short stories on the web. I proudly subscribe on a monthly basis and I’m never unhappy about the stories I download to my iPad (over 50 in the past year and a half). Support them and you’re supporting some of the best writing you’ll find anywhere.
Smashwords This is the site of choice for most self-published writers who know what they’re doing. They have over 275,000 books to offer at amazingly reasonable prices. Like Scribd (below) they cater to small independent publishers as well as selfies.
BookTrack Ever wonder why e-books don’t come with soundtracks? These guys make adding music and sound effects to e-books possible for anyone from a big publisher to a self-publisher. I’m currently working on a musical edition of my first novel Beyond the Will of God.
ReadMill I love ReadMill for all the “classics” I want to download. It’s also a tremendously innovative site set up mostly for tablet or smartphone systems allowing users to interact about books they’re reading. Highly Recommended!
Scribd The folks at Scribd.com have recently re-invented their site as a subscription service (i.e., NetFlix or Spotify for books). This is a good investment. They’ve got thousands of worthy titles, both small press and self-published.
calibre This is a pretty big collection of “Open Books,” free of digital rights management (DRM). DRM-free books are what you want to get into your e-reading device. They’re like open source software. Anyone can read them, anywhere, anytime.
Project Guttenberg The grandparent of e-book sites, Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 titles free to anyone with virtually any kind of e-book reading device (all DRM-free). They have a mobile option as well as their standard one.
“We are who we are because of the stories we tell each other.”
Happy Holidays, Peace & Love to all…
David Biddle, December 26, 2013