An American Editor

June 6, 2012

The eBook Effect: Buying and Reading More

I have been reading ebooks for only a few years, yet there has been a steady shift in both how I read books (a shift away from pbooks toward ebooks) and the number of books I buy and read (I buy and read more books than when I was buying just pbooks) since I entered the world of ebooks.

Recently, I started a trilogy by indie author Joseph Lallo, The Book of Deacon. As was true for many of the ebooks I have bought and read, the first book in the trilogy, also called The Book of Deacon, was free. And like other books that I have enjoyed, I have purchased the subsequent books in the series, The Great Convergence and The Battle of Verril. I do not intend to review the books in this article, other than to say that this is a 4-star epic fantasy series, well worth trying.

I mention the trilogy, because it got me thinking about my reading habits and about numbers. The first book in the trilogy, I “bought” at Smashwords. I read it on my Nook Tablet, and when I came to the last page, immediately went online via the Tablet to the B&N ebookstore and purchased book 2. Book 3 was purchased the same way. What surprised me was that my Nook library, after purchasing The Battle of Verril, had 186 ebooks in it — and I have had my Nook Tablet for only two months! I wondered, how many ebooks have I purchased over the years?

From just three ebookstores — Smashwords, B&N, and Sony — I have purchased 722 ebooks (again, “purchase” includes ebooks gotten for free and ebooks that I have paid for). Add in the ebooks I purchased at Kobo, Baen, and several other ebookstores, the quantity rises above 900; add in ebooks obtained from places like Feedbooks and MobileRead, and the number climbs above 1,100.

I haven’t yet read all of the ebooks I purchased, but I am working away at the backlog, even as I increase the backlog by buying more ebooks. Since receiving my first Sony Reader as a holiday gift in December 2007 (the Sony 505), both my buying and reading habits have gradually, but dramatically, changed.

Before ebooks, I rarely bought indie-authored books. I also rarely bought novels. Nearly all my book purchases (at least 90%) were nonfiction, mainly biography, history, critical thinking, language, ethics, philosophy, and religion. I never cared much for the self-help books; I always felt that the only real self-help going on was the author helping him-/herself to my money. Books that I did buy either caught my eye on the bookshelf at a local bookstore, were reviewed in the New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Economist, American Heritage, or other magazine to which I subscribed, or advertised in one of the magazines to which I subscribed. But the two primary sources for finding pbooks to buy were browsing the local bookstore and the New York Review of Books, including ads in the Review.

I didn’t buy indie-authored books because the authors were unknown and the books were expensive, especially as I only bought hardcover pbooks. Yet I did buy a lot of pbooks, rarely fewer than 125 pbooks a year (not including the pbooks my wife bought).

The advent of ebooks caused my reading and buying habits to shift. In the beginning of my personal ebook era, I continued to buy a large number of hardcover pbooks supplemented with a few ebooks. In the beginning, I was neither ready nor willing to simply move completely away from pbooks (which is still true). Nor was I ready nor willing to shift my focus from known authors and nonfiction to indie authors and fiction (which is no longer true). But as each month passed and I became more enamored with reading on my Sony Reader, I began to explore ebooks and with that exploration, came indie-authored fiction ebooks.

I am still unwilling to buy indie-authored nonfiction ebooks. I look at nonfiction books as both entertainment and sources of knowledge. Consequently, an author’s reputation and background remain important, and I still look to my magazines for guidance. However, where previously I rarely bought fiction and what fiction I did buy was not indie-authored, today I buy hundreds of indie-authored fiction ebooks. With the exception of perhaps a dozen nonfiction ebooks that I have purchased over the years (I bought the pbook first then decided to also buy the ebook version) and a handful of well-known fiction authors’ novels, every one of the more than 1,100 ebooks I have purchased are indie-authored fiction.

eBooks have had another impact on my reading in addition to the number and type of ebook purchases I make: I am reading more books than ever. Prior to ebooks, I would read 1 to 1.5 hardcover nonfiction pbooks each week (on average) over the course of a year. (I find that it takes me longer to read a nonfiction book than to read a fiction book; I tend to linger over facts and try to absorb them, whereas I consider fiction books to be generally a read-once-then-giveaway books.) Over my 4.5-year history with ebooks, the number of nonfiction pbooks that I purchase each year has steadily declined and it is taking me longer to read a nonfiction pbook, whereas the number of fiction ebooks I purchase has steadily increased and I read them faster than ever; I now read an average of two to three fiction ebooks a week — again, nearly all indie authored — in addition to my nonfiction reading.

Alas, not all is rosy in indie-authored ebookland. Sometimes I have to discard (delete) a goodly number of indie-authored ebooks before I find one that I think is worth reading from “cover-to-cover.” It is this experience that causes me to be unwilling to pay for the first ebook I read by an indie author. As those of you who are regular readers of An American Editor know, once I find an indie author who I think writes well, I am willing to pay for all of their ebooks that interest me. Indie authors that I have discovered and whose books I think are worth reading and buying include Rebecca Forster, Shayne Parkinson, Vicki Tyley, Michael Hicks, and L.J. Sellers. But finding these worthwhile authors is the difficult part, and ebooks have made the finding more difficult than ever.

The problem of ebooks, as the number of ebooks I have purchased attests, is that there are so many of them, which makes it hard to weed among them. I’ve lamented before that there is no gatekeeper for fiction ebooks. As poor as the gatekeeper system might be, it at least has the virtue of doing some preliminary weeding. True, sometimes gatekeepers do not distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, but at least with gatekeeping there would be some reduction in the number of ebooks that a reader would have to wade through to find the worthwhile indie-authored book. Under the current system, readers need to apply their own filters and hope for the best.

The ebook effect has altered the reading world by making more indie-authored books available to consumers, making gatekeeping a relic of the past, and making price a more important part of the reading-purchasing equation. eBooks change how readers relate to books. Whether ultimately this is for the better or not, remains to be seen.



  1. […] tutto: The eBook Effect: Buying and Reading More Share this:Facebook Questo articolo è stato pubblicato in Idee trovate in giro. Aggiungi ai […]


    Pingback by Abitudini che cambiano con gli ebook — June 6, 2012 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  2. “The problem of ebooks, as the number of ebooks I have purchased attests, is that there are so many of them, which makes it hard to weed among them. I’ve lamented before that there is no gatekeeper for fiction ebooks. As poor as the gatekeeper system might be, it at least has the virtue of doing some preliminary weeding.”

    I feel your pain. You’re right: the gatekeeper of the past performed a valuable function, as poor as it was. If nothing else, the reader was guaranteed a minimum editing standard. But what’s the solution? I have no idea.


    Comment by Vicki — June 6, 2012 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  3. I have had a similar experience. Before I bought my Kindle, I read mostly non-fiction. I purchased my Kindle in August 2011, and since then I have read more than 60 novels (a few bestsellers by known authors, some traditionally published, but most indie authors). I presently have over 220 books in my queue. I have been blown away by the e-book experience.

    I always loved the feel and smell of p-books, especially as an devotee of used bookstores. I resisted the whole e-reader concept for a long time. Once I took the plunge, I did a total about face. I have not purchased a p-book since I bought my Kindle. I love reading on my reading device. I love carrying an entire library in my hand.

    As for the quality of self-published or indie novels, it clearly ranges widely. But, the last few years I noticed that the quality of traditionally published books has declined as well. I often find typos, awkward sentences and formatting problems in traditionally published books.

    I can (and do) overlook a lot in a self-published novels, especially if they’re free or priced under $3.00. It’s harder for me to overlook those issues in e-books on which I spend as much (or, sometimes more) than I’d pay for a p-book.


    Comment by Meredith Morgan — June 7, 2012 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  4. […] “The ebook effect on buying and reading more”. […]


    Pingback by Stumbling Over Chaos :: In which there are links and such — June 8, 2012 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  5. American Editor and Meredith Morgan, my experience as an ebook reader has been similar to your own. After 18 months as a Kindle owner, I find that I own more than 600 electronic books (95% of which were freebies). I’ve discovered a few good authors that way, but too many of these free books are insipid, poorly developed, and apparently unedited, because it is just too easy for authors to publish their own work without expert advice or real skills. I’ve learned to read the sample chapters in my browser, so that I don’t clog my Kindle with dreck I’ll never want to read (too late, I’m afraid).

    Still, it is difficult to resist the impulse to snag every likely-looking freebie that presents itself. I will disagree with Meredith about picking up books that are offered at no cost, however. Although a free book may simply be a way for an unskilled writer to claim new readers, I like the practice often used by established writers of discounting one of their books to $0.00, in order to attract new readers. I’ve discovered several good authors this way, and will happily pay to read more of their work. But I will admit that I distinguish between a book that is simply free (that says, “Read me, anyone! Please! I’m desperate!”) and one that has been discounted to free for a limited time in order to attract readers.


    Comment by Lisa Nicholas — June 18, 2012 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  6. […] Fonte: The eBook Effect: Buying and Reading More « An American Editor. Confira também:: […]


    Pingback by “Efeito eBook”: ler e comprar mais livros | - notícias e opiniões sobre ebooks, livrarias e o mercado do ebook — July 4, 2012 @ 9:25 am | Reply

  7. […] Leggi tutto: The eBook Effect: Buying and Reading More […]


    Pingback by Abitudini che cambiano con gli ebook | 40k — February 21, 2014 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

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