buying e-books

E-Book Buying and Product Details…

I know I harp about this sometimes, but I do think it’s important that new people…customers…who are just now discovering e-books take the time to read every single product detail they can while shopping for e-books.

Even if you buy your books on Kobo, or Amazon, or anywhere, please take the time to shop around the web first to read other product descriptions so you know what you are buying. I buy a lot from amazon. I love amazon. But I get better book excerpts from allromanceebooks.com.

And just recently in this post, I talk about how one of my own book descriptions was rewritten and I had nothing to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with the new description. It’s basically a condensed version of what I wrote. But when you check out author web sites…and I’m talking about all authors, not just me…you’re going to get so much more information about the book you’re buying.

I’m not talking about the storyline details. I’m talking about basic product info, so you know whether or not you’re buying a short, a medium, or a long digital book (e-book). It’s up to authors and publishers to get this information out there. But as a reader, when I’m buying e-books for pleasure, I make sure I know exactly what I’m buying.

And never hesitate to contact an author directly. I know some won’t respond; they are far too grand. But most, including me, will get back to you quickly.

When Buying E-books, Triple Check All Product Information…

I saw a comment last night on a social network where a reader was disappointed because she’d purchased an e-book and thought it was longer than it actually was. The first six pages were empty, then came more filler pages, and then finally eleven more pages of information about other books in the series. In other words, by the time she got to the actual book she realized the book itself was only seventy-five percent of the entire digital product she bought.

Even though I post all product details here on the blog for each book of mine, some readers have left nasty amazon reviews for my books because they bought an e-book that was actually a short story thinking they were getting a full length novel.

I’ve even purchased e-books myself and I’ve been disappointed in the product details…the details either weren’t good enough or I was led to believe I was getting something else.

And you can’t tell anymore just by looking at the prices. I have full length digital novels out that are priced at .99, and I have short stories priced at 2.00. I have no control over book pricing. The publisher does this and I have no say in the matter. No author who is published with any publisher has a say in how his or her books are priced. That’s just a fact of life.

I’ve learned that in order to avoid any disappointment when I’m buying an e-book is to triple check product details on other web sites where they sell e-books. Some are better than others…the bigger sites seem to be the worst. But I usually wind up with all the product information I need. It’s out there; you just have to look for it.

I know publishers don’t do this on purpose. One of the problems in e-publishing is that most publishers don’t have a clue about merchandising and retail. When I owned my two businesses, I learned the public needs as much information as possible…and never assume anything when dealing with the general public. But from what I’ve seen most publishers fall short in this department. They know how to put out some great books, but don’t know how to deal with the buying public. They also take a lot for granted, with regard to the way people shop online. I not a tech geek and never have been. I couldn’t care less about DRM or file sizes or KB. When I see “146 KB” I think WTF? And then I wonder who the geeks are who are putting this information out there.
I don’t want to know about technical crap either. I just want to know how many words to book contains, what it’s about, and how much it is. Period.

So the only alternative for readers is to check out all the options before making a purchase. I can’t actually say there’s one site that does every thing perfect. But each individual site seems to cover something another site missed.

I’m also going to be adding my own product details, in the form of a list, from now on when a book is released. The product details I think would be important if I were buying an e-book for pleasure. And if anyone has any questions about anything, I always encourage them to e-mail me. You can also e-mail the publisher, too. I doubt you’ll get any responses from large publishers, but small e-publishers will respond to almost everything.

Indie Bookstores Closing Because Of E-books

When I first saw the changes coming in publishing about five years ago, I started rethinking my own career as a writer. And, trust me, I’m not one who embraces change. If I could, I’d still be writing on my old IBM typewriter and sending manuscripts through the post office.

But times have changed. And I think this quote from StarTribune.com states it better than anything I’ve read so far:

Booksellers are calling the shift a “Gutenberg moment” for the entire publishing industry, likening it to Johannes Gutenberg’s game-changing invention of movable type almost 600 years ago.

Quick Post: One Huge Difference Between E-publishers and Traditional Publishers

Version One: E-publisher

Me: Dear E-publishing Editor,

Something important came up and we need to talk. You know I never e-mail you about these things unless they are important. I’ll be around all day.

Thanks!!

Ryan

E-Publisher response within an hour after contacting them:

Hi Ryan,

Here’s what I think we should do. I’m glad you contacted me. It is important and we should take care of this immediately. Readers care about these issues.

Best,

E-Publisher

Simple. Fast. To the point. No one is left hanging. And everyone knows where they stand.

Version Two: Here’s the same exchange with a traditional print publisher. (Picture me bowing and genuflecting to the Pope.)

Me: Dear Grand Editor with Traditional Publisher,

I’m getting back regarding your questions about the matter we discussed the other day. Below you should find everything you need. If you need anything else, please let me know.

It sounded as if you wanted to discuss this right away.

Best,

Ryan

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day one:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day two:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day three:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day seven:

And so it goes…

About E-books…

Though I probably shouldn’t admit this, being that everyone has such strong opinions about e-books and print books these days, I actually do prefer reading e-books over print books. I honestly don’t have that passion some people feel when they hold a print book. And I couldn’t care less how they smell. My passions is, and always has been, for the words, the sentences, and the paragraphs that make up the story. And I don’t care if they are written on stone or printed in digital format.

The one thing I’ve noticed about e-books is that they don’t seem to go away. Once they are released, they are around forever. Now that all my favorite authors are being released in digital format, I can get whatever I want whenever I want it. There are certain books, written by certain authors, I’ll only read once. But there are other books I’ll read over and over again, depending on my mood. John Irving is one. I’ve read most of his novels at least ten times. Anne Tyler is another. I’ve read Back when We were Grownups so many times in print I recently ordered the e-book because the print book is falling apart. It’s one of those books, for me, I can take anywhere. And I’ll open it anywhere and start reading because I already know what’s going to happen.

And for new authors who are working with e-publishers, I think it’s a great advantage to be released in digital format first. I was trying to explain this to someone the other day who was upset because his book wasn’t selling as well as he wanted it to sell. With e-books, the book is always around, the authors don’t have to depend on re-prints or a set amount of time, and they can continue to promote their books forever if they want. And as more people discover e-books, and it becomes a passion, new authors will be able to build fan bases much longer than previous authors were able to do with their print books.

Ravenous Romance, Buying E-books in General, and Customer Service

Though I’ve been published by all the lgbt print publishers, in the past two years my work has been focused between two e-publishers, http://www.ravenousromance.com/ and http://www.loveyoudivine.com/. And every now and then I like to post about a few things that readers ask me on facebook and other social networks.

First, as far as Ravenous Romance and Love You Divine go, I love being published by both. I’ve been with Love You Divine for about four years, and with Ravenous for about two. My work with Ravenous tends to be more on the romance novel side, and with Love You Divine I lean more toward erotic short story stand alones. I like to keep the distinction clear, so readers know what they are buying. Other authors are always asking what it’s like to work for these publishers. They send me nice private messages all the time. And I always answer the same way: I enjoy working for them, I enjoy having my books published by them, and everyone I work with is an absolute professional. So if there are any authors out there reading this post and they are thinking of submitting work to either Ravenous or LYD, I can’t recommend them enough.

The other area where I receive a great deal of messages has to do with purchasing e-books. People write me and tell me they can’t sign in, or they can’t sign out, or they can’t download the books. The problems are numerous; the solutions are always simple. I pass the messages on to the publisher and they are more than willing to assist. This is a part of customer service, and the publisher wants to know. Buying e-books is still a new thing to many readers, and it’s not always simple. I know from my own purchasing experience it can be daunting at times. But publishers, authors, and editors are always willing to help. So don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be shy about contacting authors when there are problems buying e-books. I’ve even been known to send a complimentary e-book to people who have had problems.

And finally, I’d like to speak in general terms about all e-publishers. The one thing I’d like to emphasize to other authors deals with hearsay. In other words, don’t listen to people who are not affiliated with an e-publisher. Online rumors have a way of taking off and growing. I’ve seen them, I’ve read them, and they always make me laugh. Most of the time these online rumors aren’t true. If you want to know something about a particular publisher before you submit work, contact one of the authors or someone associated with the publisher. I know I’m always willing to help and offer advice, and all the authors I know at the publishers where I work are willing to do the same.