It was 20 years ago that Stephen King released his now famous book THE GREEN MILE in a monthly serial format. Readers had to wait for the next tiny chapter to be published…or until the entire book was put together into one novel…but they didn’t seem to mind. It was an old way of releasing a book, but new to most of King’s fans. And boy, did we read!
Now, to mark the 20th anniversary of the wildly successful book, S & S/Scribner is taking it all back and re-releasing the book in serial format to a new set of readers, and this time they’re going digital! THE GREEN MILE is one of the many books that appeals to readers who might not otherwise be fans of Stephen King (doesn’t everyone think all he writes is horror?), and these small chapters in eBook format will appeal to readers who want something short to read, but feel like they’re taking part in something bigger.
Right now, you can read a sample of the first chapter THE TWO DEAD GIRLS, on OverDrive.
What do YOU think of serials?
You may be one of our library users who reads eBooks on OverDrive. Libraries are big promoters of reading, both regular books and eBooks, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to provide readers with enough new eBooks to satisfy the demand. Why? Libraries are charged 3-5 times more for eBooks than regular consumers, simply because publishers believe that we have a larger usage of these books than the average consumer. Is that fair? Libraries don’t think so, and neither should you.
Recently, several key members of the Toronto Public Library, Ottawa Public Library, and Edmonton Public Library held a Twitter Chat to discuss this unfair pricing model, and then posted the chat on Storify.
It’s an interesting read, resulting in a few really good points:
- even if you don’t read eBooks, this tough pricing model affects your library’s budget for buying other materials
- this type of overpricing is unsustainable, even for libraries belonging to a consortia that allows us to stretch our budgets further
- Independent eBook publishers have been leaders in providing reasonable pricing for libraries, but big publishers are still waging war
- municipal governments are now joining in the fight to help libraries, but more needs to be done, especially if your local government isn’t aware of the problem
Yes, it’s true that publishers and authors need to be paid for the license just as they would for a hard copy book. Libraries can’t afford to purchase 26 copies of one book, and yet eBooks can be distributed repeatedly, giving the impression that publishers are not being paid for the number of people reading. It is simply not true.
Yes, libraries are charged more for lending fees for a book, but consider that libraries will often purchase an eBook, an audiobook, and regular print copy and a large print copy of ONE book. And they do this multiple times. Therefore, the author and publisher are being paid for these sales, which might be more than they would have sold without a library purchase. Sometimes, libraries purchase books that are not even read. In the end, we hope it all evens out…both for us, our patrons, and the publishers.
Click on the photo above, or the link, to read the whole Twitter chat (start at the top and work through to the bottom if you’re not used to this type of format). And to find out more about eBook pricing, visit fairpricingforlibraries.org.
What do you think about this issue?
Such a true statement, and yet, people often ask us if we’re seeing a decline in readers of actual books at the library. It’s actually quite a balanced answer: people who read traditional books are often also reading eBooks. If the world had been taken over by eBooks, we would have seen huge evidence of that by now, I think.
However, that being said, there is an interesting statistic that has come up recently regarding people who do download eBooks. It seems that more and more people are purchasing cheap eBooks…and yet, not reading them.
The people at Kobo delved into the statistics last year, and found that 60% of eBooks sold through their company were never even opened. Sixty percent. That’s a lot of books. And the more expensive the book was to begin with, the more likely someone would at least open it. So, are cheap books really benefiting anyone?The trend seems to be on buying these digital books when they’re offered as promotions, but maybe it’s simply the old adage “out of sight, out of mind”, that makes people ignore the books once purchased. They’re not sitting out in plain sight on our shelves as eBooks, and so, tend to be forgotten.
This could be why Amazon’s new plan to pay authors for the number of pages read–instead of for the entire book sold–is bothering a lot of people. If readers are downloading books because they are being offered at a reduced rate…and then not reading them at all, the authors will lose out. Effectively, it looks like Amazon will be the big winner here.
Unless the world and environment deems we cannot physically make books anymore, I think the digital world of reading, and the traditional world will not collide or overrun one another.
Have you ever purchased an eBook and not read it?
Electronic resources are popular at the library, both eBooks and Audiobooks. And while we like to make our patrons feel secure in being able to download either one to any kind of device (computer, phone, tablet etc.), it’s not always as straight forward as it should be. But trust me, originally, it was way, way more difficult.
When eBooks and Audiobooks first arrived through the Over Drive website, you needed to download a small program, register for an Adobe ID, have all of your computer equipment up to date, and then make sure you accepted all of the conditions when downloading your books. Of course, it also requires a library card number and PIN, both of which you can get from the library. Sounds simple, right?
Next, once you had everything installed on your computer, it was simple enough to do a search and select a book. If you weren’t on high speed internet, it wasn’t impossible, but took a little more time to download, especially those audiobooks. But you could do that here at the library…providing you didn’t mind wiping everything off of your iPod when you began the download (yes, public access computers made things a bit tricky). Then, if everything went well, your book was downloaded into your program, where you could then plug in your iPod or eReader and transfer it over. That could take a bit of doing, as well. Some of the devices required certain functions to happen in a particular order (ie…plug in the USB cord first to your device, then to your computer etc.). And teaching people to drag and drop a book into Adobe Digital Editions (as well as helping them to navigate the software if it opened in a different configuration was always fun), the whole thing sort of lost its shine.
With the invention of tablets and apps in general, things have changed quite a bit. Now, with most newer devices, you can download a small program and the eBook or audiobook simply downloads straight into the app. No separate programs for each type of electronic resource, and not much in the way of registration (except for the Adobe ID, which they’ve now eliminated for new users!). Yes, there are still people who are using their computers to listen to or read books, but many of us like the portability of smaller devices.
What remains a bit frustrating—-and something that’s difficult to explain to new users, especially when we tell them “it’s easy!”—–is that not everything goes smoothly. We could install the same apps on the same type of devices for five people in a row….and run into different problems with each one. Keep in mind, we all install different updates, run different programs that might interfere in some way, and purchase our devices at different times. What might be standard on the first issue of a tablet might be upgraded slightly in a few months, even though it is technically the same device. So, keep all of that in mind when downloading your electronic resources. It’s not always perfectly simple, but hopefully, we can get you there without many issues.
Similarly, any updates to the app or to your device might also render some new steps or a new look when using OverDrive. Have patience….if you experiment a bit, sometimes you’ll learn more about how to do things than coming in for help. But, we’re always here to give you some assistance, so please drop by anytime. If it looks like it might be a difficult issue, you can always call and make an appointment with us so we can spend a bit more time.
If you haven’t been using electronic resources, why not start now? Drop by the OverDrive website to get started!
Audiobooks and eBooks are a big part of our library collection, even though many of the titles are strictly digital and never actually come into the library building itself. But we have many readers (and listeners), who regularly use the OverDrive website or app to access these books and enjoy “reading” in a whole new way. We love hearing the stories, from people who download audiobooks to listen to on their drive to and from work (library staff included), to people who choose eBooks when they’re going on vacation and don’t want to carry a stack of heavy books in their suitcases. They’re a wonderful way to get in some extra reading when you might not feel you have the time to spend on books.
If you’ve been downloading eBooks or audiobooks to your computer for a while, you might not realize there is now a handy APP that you can use on your portable devices, such as tablets or phones. The OverDrive Media Console App is available for both Apple products (iPhones, iPads etc., available from the Apple store), as well as for Android based products (from the Google Play store). The app is free and only takes a moment to download. Then, all you’ll need is your library card number, and a PIN that we’ve given to you and you’re all set! Gone are the days when you needed an Adobe ID, so new users, rejoice in the fact that you can now skip a much dreaded step!
While some people don’t enjoy reading on their phones because of the small display, audiobooks are really simple to access on a phone, and you can plug in your earbuds, or just listen using your phone’s speaker. They don’t take long to download, and if you use free Wi-fi access points, you won’t have to worry about paying for data charges. Give it a try! Just pop into your library to get a card and a PIN, and start downloading books today!
We hear it all the time at the library.
“I wish this author would write faster. I can’t wait until the next book is released!”
While it’s true that it takes time for a book to be published, there is a new demand for books to come out sooner. It’s a combination of the society we live in, with it’s on-demand everything, and competition from the self-publishing world. Is this a good thing? Let’s explore the options.
Authors probably write faster than you imagine. While it takes anywhere from 8 months to a year or more for some books to be released, the author has long since written the story. Much of the time in between takes place in editing and production. There are book covers to be designed, editing to be done, publicity decisions to be made, and so much more. In the past the wait has been exciting–a lead up to a new book in a series, or a stand-alone by a popular author. Both could send people scrambling to the stores the moment the book hit the shelves. But much has changed.
Even if you still buy the traditional hardcover book, the instant world we live in allows for someone to download an eBook version in a matter of seconds (or minutes), the moment the clock hits midnight. It’s exciting to have so much available to us at our fingertips. We’ve come to expect it. So, waiting a year or more for a book to be released is an eternity!
And now there are more authors following the non-traditional self-publishing route, allowing them to take charge of their careers and listen to their audience. If people are begging for a new book, even if an author has just released one only a few months before, authors are able to fill in the spaces with downloadable novellas, short stories or even full-length novels to keep their readers interested and buying. It’s making the traditional publishing houses a little nervous.
While people are starting to make their choices known, the publishing world is responding. Several houses are starting to experiment with shorter release dates. Yes, this probably puts a lot of pressure on their authors, and most likely does a real number on their catalog organization, but it’s making some authors–and LOTS of readers—very happy.
The New York Times just released an article about series publishing, citing FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James as starting the trend for fast-turnover publishing. While these were self-published, James didn’t waste any time between books, allowing her followers to scoop up the books without much downtime. It followed the binging trend that we see most often in Netflix viewers who are used to the concept. And now publishing houses like Dutton are giving it a whirl. They just released the first of a trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer called ANNIHILATION, and will release the second book in the series in May, and the third in September. It’s a trial run, sure to please fans who want to know what happens. But some are worried it will saturate the market too quickly, and won’t build the same kind of fan base.
One also wonders what it is doing to the authors. Are they having to work double time to not only write, but promote an entire series? Will the finished product be as good as it might be if it is rushed? Will it actually make some authors more popular because readers know they won’t have to wait long for books, or will they tire of an author who is constantly chugging out collections?
Only time will tell, of course, but it’s an interesting idea that needs to be explored. If you like to read a series from beginning to end without waiting, this idea could be for you. Maybe this is a trend all publishing houses will soon follow and we won’t have much choice. We’d like to know what you think, however. Would you prefer an entire series to be released in short order, or do you worry about quality over speed? Leave us a comment to tell us how you feel.