DRM That Works

I talk a lot about Joe Konrath’s commentary on ebookery here, mainly because Joe raises a lot of good points.  Yesterday, he slammed the concept of Digital Rights Management (DRM).  His basic premise is this.  If you make a product hard for people to use, people won’t use it.

I need only point you at that gang of window lickers known as record company executives for proof.  DRM has done more to encourage piracy – often with the complicity of the artists it supposedly protects – and destroy CD sales than the classic Napster ever could on a good day.  Result?  Radiohead has no label.  And yet they sell quite well without one.  The labels still exist and still serve the artists, but the days of supporting record execs’ cocaine habits with idiotic pricing models are over.

When it comes to placing bits on people’s devices, preventing people from copying that data, especially when they paid for it, is a fool’s errand at best.  They’re bits.  No DRM scheme devised by man will ever truly work in the long run.

But does this mean all DRM is evil?

Consider the cloud model.  Under this scheme, your data lives in the nebulous cloud (really racks of storage devices kept in a secure location).  This would include all that music you buy from iTunes, Amazon, and so on.  Google is big on this model.  They’d love for you to store your personal files on the cloud.  And Microsoft, for a time, toyed with the idea of pulling your operating system and software off the cloud.  (Mercifully, that idea died.)

So how’s this good for the consumer?

You can’t read my Google docs.  Well, you could, but it’d be a lot of work for you to do it.  So suppose Google or Apple or Oracle decides to sell you space in their racks of storage devices for your very own place for your stuff.  It is much easier to secure off-site information and distribute it to whatever device the end user chooses than it is to restrict use of data on those same devices.  After all, they already do your email that way.  Credit card info, banking info, your Amazon account, and even your account at the pizza place are all secured by the vendor based on you.  Yes, hacking is an obvious danger, but has hacking slowed down use of eBay, Amazon, or the iPhone App Store?

So let’s say your music is sent to wherever you store your information.  The credentials for this are tied to you, not your device, not your hard drive, not some product key limiting your access to something you paid for.

What’s the difference?  The DRM is tied to the consumer, not the data itself.  When a user authenticates to a server, something we do dozens of times a day, he or she can call whatever data is needed out of the sky.  This includes music, video, and ebooks.

So the problem is not that DRM offers no protection.  It treats the customer like a thief.  When it protects the consumer rather than the data from theft, it becomes user-friendly and eliminates DRM’s biggest moral hypocrisy:

It might be your intellectual property, but it’s my hard drive.  Barging in and looking at my data because you’re afraid someone might be looking at your precious work without paying you is exactly like breaking into my house because you think I took your lawn mower.  You may be right, but the moment you bust down my door, you become the criminal.

And that’s precisely what the current DRM model is.

Ebooks: Still Have A Way To Go

No one can deny ebooks are going mainstream.  St. Martin’s and Amazon would not have had their infamous dust-up earlier this year if they weren’t.  And it’s pretty clear the blockbuster mentality in New York is ultimately going to destroy the current print model.  But just how prevalent are ebook readers?

Kindles and their clones are already pretty common.  Some people will ask you “Is that a Kindle?” when they see you with one.  They know what it is, which means they’ve seen them before.  Already, IT departments are testing iPads for their ability to access corporate networks or their portals.  Apple has blessed the e-reader with all its sterile coolness and given the once-dead pad computing market a reason to exist.  Of course, in doing so, it’s introduced new competitors to make life hard for Dell, HP, and Lenovo, those being Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony.  But…

Remember, I am writing this from America.  About the only thing you can really compare America’s growing love of the e-reader is Canada’s.  But what of Europe?

This month, we have a German exchange student named Daniel staying with us.  Daniel is pretty well traveled for a seventeen-year-old.  He lives in a part of Germany that allows occasional trips to Paris and regularly visits his father in Israel.  Also on his itinerary after he leaves America?  Switzerland and the Montreux Jazz Festival.  So Daniel’s been around.  He’s seen more of the world than most of us.  How did he respond to my Kindle?

“What is this?”

The e-reader is a new phenomenon.  In Europe, people are not as gadget-addicted as we are in America.  Yes, they want the iPad, but like many of us less-giddy tech junkies, they’re likely waiting for later generations.  But Daniel’s comment actually reflects something I noticed among American kids.  They’re just not on fire for an e-reader.  Some are so sick of the iPod that the iPad is simply not on their wish list.

The way I see it, ebook pioneers and entrepreneurs have two obstacles they need to overcome at this point in time:  They need to capture the foreign markets, and they need to get the youth excited again.  The former will truly open up ebooks’ potential for writers to earn from their work.  The latter is crucial if books in any form are to survive.  For that, publishers, print or electronic, are going to need to pay attention to how teens want their content.  The trend I’m seeing leans toward unpowered hardcopy vs. the latest device du jour.  Will that stay the same?  Who knows?  But for now, if you want to keep those foreign markets and capture a young audience now, you ignore print at your own peril and develop your ebook model in a vacuum.

That is where we are at present.  Certainly, the publishing industry needs to get a sorely lacking clue about ebooks.  But those among us evangelizing the ebook revolution – and I count myself among them – should remember print is not dead for a reason.

But it’s going to look radically different and sooner rather than later.

Something For You To Ponder This Weekend

Every Tuesday, I’ve been blatherating about ebooks, mainly on what I’ve seen and, more importantly, what I as a consumer want.

But JA Konrath has taken the experiment beyond the experimental phase.  After only a short time, Joe’s finding ebooks to be a profitable revenue stream.  And as we all know, all but the most pretentious jackass writers love profitable revenue streams.  (Hint:  Craft is why you want to make a living this way.  You still need to make a living.  No one respects a starving artist who is perfectly capable of holding a job.)

Today, over at Joe’s Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, he sums up his experiences and the pros and cons of ebookery.  I’ve said it here before; Joe hit the sweet spot.  He’s got brand and he caught the technology at the dawn of its ascendancy.  Oh, sure.  Pads have actually been with us for 10 years, as have PDA’s, which have morphed into phones.  Ebooks have been with us almost from the beginning of the Internet.  Hell, you could read books on Gopher.  (You know how I learned about Gopher?  On this newfangled thangie called the “World Wide Web.”)  But the Kindle and its clones matured pad computing to a useful stage, which gave Apple the go ahead to bless it with all the sterile chicness that is the iPad, and coupled it with mobile computing technology.  That ebook you just read on your device is really just a .mobi or .epub file.  These have been with us for some time now.  They were even the impetus for taking this live.  But Kindle and .mobi/.epub are the result of what happens when two technologies morph into something that grows its own cool factor.

Some of Joe’s salient points, lifted and plagiarized directly from Joe himself.  (Sorry, Joe.  I thought it worth repeating.)

  • “Kindle and ebooks are no more a guaranteed success than any other type of publishing. If you want to be widely read, and have the potential for earning the a lot of money, find an agent. If your agent can’t sell your book, or if you have out of print books, I highly recommend self-pubbing on Kindle and Smashwords.”
  • “I post at www.kindleboards.com whenever I have a new release. That’s pretty much all the promo I do. But I’m lucky to have a popular blog, and lots of folks who talk about me on the net. I also have a print backlist.”
  • “Q: Are ebooks going to take over traditional publishing?

    A: Eventually. But print will be around for a while.”

Mind you, I’ve argued some with Joe on this point, but he’s right.  The New York/London model is dying, and it’s not pretty to watch.  Print, I firmly believe, will be around for a long, long time.  But it will be more niche oriented.  The blockbuster mentality that now dominates New York, London, and Paris will not work in the future, at least not in its current form.  Eventually, ebooks will be the dominant format.  Cheap distribution, and if authors are smart about their rights, highly profitable for those creating the work.

Joe goes on to say…

If I maintain my current rate of sales, I’ll earn $170,000 a year on ebook sales. That’s just on the Kindle, and ebooks currently account for less than 6% of all book sales. What happens when ebooks account for 10%? Or 30%? What about platforms other than Kindle?

Eventually, there will be tens of millions of ereading devices out there, and I’m going to keep publishing new ebooks–many of them per year. I can envision a time in the future where I’m selling 500 or 1000 ebooks per day. If we predict that 40 million people will have ereaders in the year 2015, and I sold 1000 ebooks per day, it would take me over a hundred years to completely saturate that market. I’m not in any danger of maxing out my potential fanbase anytime soon.

It’s a brave new world, kids.  And right now, the rules aren’t even being written.  They’re being scribbled on the back of cocktail napkins for use in the rough draft.

The Big 6 Are Dying?

Possibly.

And if you’re like JA Konrath, you have to be asking why bother with them anyway.  Joe’s built himself a brand.  Two, actually.  And he knows his audience.  So when asked about whether the Big Six publishers will survive, he had this to say

Publishing has been wonderful to me. I’ve met many terrific, smart, generous people, and if the Big 6 are indeed going to go under, I will mourn their loss.

Notice he doesn’t commit to their actual demise, but then always hedge your bets.  I still believe print will be a viable format, but it’s not going to look anything like it does today.  The future of print really is going to lie with the small presses who do their homework, pay their authors up front, and produce a quality product.

That said, ignoring ebooks as they become more mainstream is a risk only the foolish will undertake.  Why?

Well, let Joe tell you…

Also, when the multitude of editors who worked for those publishers are sadly let go–including the many who have rejected my work over the last twenty years–I want them to know that I’m making a freakin’ fortune self-publishing ebooks they passed on, and am in need of a good freelance editor.

Yes, kids, it’s easier to self-publish and make money now.  But as Joe points out, you are still going to need an editor.  For those writers who don’t believe they need an editor, I invite you to find something else to do with your time.

Point is, the times they is a-changin’.  You can’t say fear of change is a luxury writers can no longer afford.  Fear of change is not even a luxury anymore.  It’s a career death sentence.  The only way to survive and thrive is to embrace change.

One need only look at the poor, stupid, whining recording industry for proof.  They deserve every bad thing that’s happened to them since Napster.  After all, they had five freaking years before Napster first went live to come up with a model on their own.  So tell me how the RIAA’s draconian – and largely unconstitutional and completely immoral – efforts to control their product has worked?

Uh huh.

The Big Six had better wake up.  Fast.

Coming Soon: Winter The Ebook!

No, I’m not going to sell Northcoast Shakedown or Road Rules on Kindle.  The rights to Northcoast are only available for an obscene amount no one will ever pay.  It’s all part of Homey’s master plan to keep that abomination out of print forever.  Road Rules was not intended to be sold, though my agent got a few good looks trying to do just that.  Unless someone makes an offer, that will continue to be a freebie.

Instead, I’ve decided not to try and sell short stories individually.  Too many writers are putting their book-length work on Kindle for barely a dollar.  With the market flooded with dollar books, who’s going to pay that for a single short story?

So instead, I will be putting together a collection of what I’ve written so far.  Look for The Compleat Winter soon, compleat with a really cool cover.

Ebooks: They’re Booming. What’s Next?

We’ve all seen the experiments with ebooks lately.  Authors like Lee Goldberg are finding new life with their backlists.  JA Konrath is positively giddy about the novels he’s released as ebooks.  So that’s the end of publishing, right?

Wrong.

While the new platforms – Kindle, Nook, Sony, and iPad – certainly give new life to out-of-print backlists, the go-it-alone model for new work is in a bit of a sweet spot right now.  If you have an established name, releasing new material yourself – properly edited and using your marketing already in place – is a no-brainer.  And why not?  With the publisher out of the equation, it’s almost pure profit.  Hence, Joe Konrath is a very happy man these days.

But if the POD explosion a few years ago taught us anything, it’s that as soon as you make it affordable for anyone to publish, anyone will do just that.  In the not too distant future*, the ebook platforms will be flooded with slapped-together manuscripts, poorly edited and laid out.  When you get a flood of books that have not been edited properly or put together cleanly, people are going to say, “No, thanks.”

So is that the end of ebooks?  Are we back to depending on the Big Six in New York?

Unless the Big Six halts its march in the footsteps of the poor, deluded recording industry, that’s never going to happen.  On the other hand, I do firmly believe the epublisher is going to rise.

It’s not like this hasn’t been attempted.  Up until now, though, the effort isn’t very well funded or the stakeholders believe that ebooks are basically free money requiring no work on their part.  Many simply came and went too soon, before Amazon led the charge with the Kindle.

But now that viable delivery systems are here, one thing becomes apparent:  All those things that publishers do for you?  You’ll still need someone to do them.  No less an authority than John Scalzi can tell you why, and much better than I can.  The time is right for an epublisher.  But…

Remember, I’m one of those writers who signed with what looked like a savvy independent press exploiting print-on-demand technology to its full potential only to discover…

Yeah, they still sell print books in bookstores, which my former publisher had issues with finding.  And those stores expect you to make it easy for them to buy your book wholesale, which his printer did not.  If you think it was easy when all you had to do was upload a PDF file to a Lightning Source account, then throw together a web site to call yourself a “publisher,” think how easy it will be for someone long on ambition and short on business skills to simply upload to Smashwords and set a price, and implode a hundred times more efficiently, sending his or her authors tumbling into a careening vortex of career oblivion.  Not pretty.

That’s not to say this is not a viable model.  Quite the opposite.  The market is very good at culling the self-published and poorly published drek.  What will rise to the top are the outfits that can market an author’s work.  They will pay their authors.  And they will work with the writers associations to find the right balance in their business models.  So what will a legitimate epublisher look like?

  • Capital, capital, capital – Think about your favorite small print press.  Someone’s backing it.  The Big Six?  They’re all arms of big media companies that have cash on hand to work through the lean times, and volume enough to fund themselves through the booms.  So it will be with epublishers.  The viable epublishers will have the backing to pay editors, pay their authors, and pay for marketing.  Now, all this might be cheaper than at Random House or St. Martin’s Press, who have to buy store coop and pay editors enough to survive in New York on something more than top ramen, but ebooks will require a different type of marketing, especially if the authors are new.  So if the publisher is working out of his basement, it’s best to find out whether it’s his parents’ basement.  If so, look elsewhere to shop your manuscript.
  • Advances – A good publisher ponies up an advance, which goes back to capital.  Granted, more money should flow to both author and publisher from today’s ebook model.  But advances are a show of confidence.  Now, the days of stupidly large advances are likely over – though any author who gets one should still cash that check.  (To quote Gene Simmons, if you think it’s not about the money, guess what.  It’s about the money.)  Still, some sort of payment upfront needs to be hammered out.  Authors and their agents want to be paid sooner rather than later.  We enjoy paying bills.  Well, we don’t enjoy it, but we do enjoy a third-notice-free existence.  We also like eating, keeping our cars, and sending our kids to college so they can support us in our old age.
  • Agents – A legitimate epublisher will work with agents.  This should not even be a question.  They should, of course, take unagented submissions if that’s feasible, but agents exist to manage an author’s business transactions.
  • Fees – Like print, there should be none.  Period.  End of discussion.  Money flows to the writer.  Do not EVER pay a publisher for ANYTHING! Did I mention you don’t pay a publisher for anything?
  • Editing – Duh.  That’s why you go to a publisher, is it not?  Editors are paid to make a manuscript better, especially with newer, inexperienced writers.  This is the big knock against self-publishing.  When you’re JA Konrath and have a circle of buddies who will edit your stuff in exchange for their bar tab, then you can self-publish.  (Or you can throw some work to Clair Lamb if your budget permits.  She’s quite good.)  Again, for new authors, readers are going to want to know the material’s been vetted before they spend their money.  Just because your book is $5-$10 vs. $30 for a hard cover doesn’t mean the reader wants to buy crap at that price.
  • Marketing – The ebook market, at least for a few years after the floodgates open, are going to be swamped with anyone and everyone who thinks they can write uploading their deathless prose.  And an alarming majority of them are going to make readers regret the deathless part.  Buy your cousin’s niece’s brother’s roommate’s erotic vampire steampunk remix of Jane Austen, and you’re going to wonder why won’t this just die!!! Marketing will help make the legitimate epublishers standout.  Once again, it goes back to capital.  A good epublisher will have the resources to promote a book.  And they’re not going to waste them on something they don’t think will make them money.
  • Print partners – A good epublisher will find a print partner.  Joe Konrath pondered this recently and admitted he’s not sure of the answer.  Is print a subsidiary right?  If you go electronic first, it is, which is one more reason why you should have an agent.  Most writers, even experienced best sellers, can’t keep track of all the various first rights and world rights and electronic rights and foreign rights…  Dizzy yet?  But as print is still the primary means of delivering book content, a smart ebook publisher will find a way to partner with their print counterparts.  This could even be a boon to small independent presses looking for a new outlet.  If the tires have already been kicked, why not buy the print rights to a successful ebook?

It’s a brave new world.  A lot of questions are going to need answered as electronic books become more and more mainstream.  The main writers organizations – particularly the MWA and SFWA – will likely steer the debate.  So how soon will we see this come about?

Soon enough.

*Next Sunday, AD is not a stretch.  20 minutes into the future is, but still possible.  Your MST3K and Max Headroom references for the day.  You’re welcome.

Doing The Ebook Shuffle

I’m going to take the plunge.  Starting this week, I am going to upload old short stories for Kindle.  Not really news.  I posted my short story policy a few weeks ago.  As I said, I want to get paid for work I did for free.

When you write crime fiction, the paying markets can be counted on one hand.  The profitable paying markets can be counted on a peace sign.  While I have few regrets about publishing with these markets, I still think it’s time I got paid.

This past week, I had an opportunity to help a small publisher with some technical support as they prepare to offer ebooks.  (The irony here is I’ll be finishing their latest offering on Kindle days before the hard copy I ordered arrives.  Hmm…)  A few emails back and forth led me to conclude it was time to take the plunge.

There is an application called Caliber that converts and manages ebooks, even sends them to your reader.  Another service will publish them for you on all the major ebook outlets.  There are some questions to be worked out.  Which stories to offer.  How much to charge.  Plus, it’s quite likely the iPad will charge differently from Kindle, Sony, and Barnes & Noble.

And am I going to take the plunge and publish a full-blown book for Kindle?

I’ve been putting off making Road Rules a proper ebook.  However, I said the book would be offered for free, so free it will remain.  I’ll convert it to .mobi format and put it on the Road Rules web site.  You will be able to read it on your favorite e-reader, but you will not have to go through someone’s ebook store to get it.  Road Rules is for fun, nothing more, nothing less.

A few things to consider:

  1. Road Rules is not meant to be self-publishing.  It’s something I offered for fun.  So do not consider this to be typical.
  2. I am not going to offer Holland Bay or dig up Northcoast Shakedown as self-published novels.  For the foreseeable future, both those books need to follow the traditional model until something compelling tells me otherwise.
  3. Yes, I know JA Konrath is making lots of money with his ebooks.  Joe also has this thing called a backlist, and it’s already quite lucrative for him.  Would Joe be making this much money if no one had ever heard of his Jack Daniels series?  I doubt it.  My backlist consists of a blogged novel and a book published by someone who probably should not have gone into pubishing.  Not exactly a compelling reason to spend money on an author, is it?
  4. The short stories I will be offering have been edited/approved/sniffed at by zine editors.  Granted, I have two or three stories where the editor was taking anything that landed in their inbox.  I may or may not offer those, but I definitely will offer ones where the editor made me cry.
  5. And I have no clue how this will turn out.  I may end up scratching my scifi itch and throw something on Kindle in that vein, just because.

How will this all shake out?

Stay tuned.

Ebooks: The iPad – Not Ready For Prime Time

Now here’s an interesting article from Yahoo that explains why the new iPad is not quite a Kindle killer.

Yet.

It cites 13 reasons why the iPad shouldn’t really be on your wish list yet.

  1. Awkward – It doesn’t replace your smart phone or iPod Touch.  True, but the iPad’s not really designed to be a smart phone, though apparently it can function as one.
  2. Heavy – Of course, by heavy, they mean 1.5 pounds.  To be sure, lightweight by all but the biggest wuss’s standards.  Still, the Kindle, the Nook, and Sony’s line of e-readers all weigh around 10 ounces.
  3. Slippery – This is a big sticking point for me.  Why spend all that money on something I can easily drop?  I can grip a laptop or put it in a case, and I can stick a smart phone in my pocket.  E-readers have optional covers that make them hold like books (incidentally another argument why printed books will not go away in our lifetimes.)  If you’re going to spend a month’s worth of utilities on a device, you sure as hell don’t want it slipping out of your fingers.
  4. Screen glare – This is a BIG disappointment coming from the wizards at Cupertino.
  5. Can’t read it in the sun – Another disappointment.  Generally, Apple is ahead of the curve, but on the iPad’s screen, this and the screen glare are both deal breakers.
  6. Does not multitask – In other words, why shouldn’t I spend about $200-$500 less for an e-reader that does more?  Again, the people who brought you multitasking with the Macintosh have fallen behind on this one.
  7. Fingerprints – I have an iPod classic, and this has always annoyed me about it.  The silver case now looks smudged.  I realize Apple has this sterile chic vibe going on, but really, they need to move on and find a better finish for their supercool devices.
  8. Limited browser – iPad uses the iPhone’s version of Safari.
  9. Virtual keyboard – This has long been a problem for a lot of touchscreen devices, so I’m not surprised Apple is having problems with the first generation iPad.
  10. No USB port – A big no-no for me.  Even my Kindle has one.
  11. iPhone apps look horrible – Probably need better emulation
  12. Price – Why I haven’t bought an iPhone yet.
  13. Doesn’t replace anything – And here’s where I think Yahoo misses the point.

The iPad is a step between the Macbook, which still holds its own in a sea of cheaper, similarly reliable Windows machines, and the iPhone, which I don’t think anyone will argue is a failure.  If anything, it forced LG, Blackberry, and other companies to rethink their phones.

But the point of the iPad is not to replace anything, except maybe an e-reader.  The point is to create a new platform, which Apple has done by combining the iPhone OS and application set with hardware not all that dissimilar to a laptop.  Tablet PC’s have been around for about 10 years now, and like Apple’s own Newton handheld (Remember that ungainly ancestor of the iPhone?), they’ve all been miserable failures.

The faults listed above are definitely not insurmountable, especially for Apple.  Its products have such a cult-like following that there will be more than enough bleeding edge adopters who will find out exactly what you can do with a device such as this.

So the iPad is by no means a failure.  But it’s not really ready for anyone beyond the Cult of Apple.  We eagerly await the fruits of their obsession.

Ebooks And Newspapers

While I don’t believe the printed book is going away anytime soon, I do believe the printed newspaper is pretty much dead.  That said, I suspect the newspaper will find new life in the realm of ebooks.  This is not a bad thing.

The newspaper is a convoluted origami produced by a very messy offset press.  At one point, a thousand had to be printed before one usable paper came out of the press.  They’re hard to read on mass transit and generally end up wrapping fish or going into the recycle bin.  Tabloid-format papers are easier to read, but there’s a reason tabloid has become a dirty word.

But let’s look at the delivery system for Kindle, which resembles the same for Nook and for Sony.  Pay a subscription fee, and the day’s issue is on your reader daily.  With some Sony readers and the new iPad, you’ll have to sync with your computer.  Properly formatted, you can navigate through the paper to all the bits you really want, such as fashi-  I mean, sports.  Yeah.  Sports.  I always check the box scores for the Bengals.

Newspapers flourished for centuries because, in the beginning, it was easy to press a broadsheet onto a large sheet of paper for a penny, easy for linotypists ot put together telegraphed stories and primitively faxed pictures into the daily, and cheap to spin a roll of paper into a day’s run of The New York Times.  But broadsheets and modern papers, which were the most efficient means of delivering news on demand in the pre-Internet days, now are mainly so much litter with day-old news printed on it.  Perhaps the most obvious and least used feature of the electronic format is the ability to produce up-to-the-minute news.  And isn’t that part of the newspaper’s downfall?  Your news, in our 24-hour cable/satellite and instant Internet access world, is a day late and a dollar (at least) short in print?

Hey! Nice Kindle!

Ever since I bought my Kindle a few weeks ago, I’ve been getting a lot of attention.  It started on the bus.

“Oooh, is that the Kindle?” a lady asked.  I replied that it was.  “How does that work?”

I explained how you paid Amazon for a book, and they transmitted it directly to your Kindle.  You had the book in a minute.  She asked if I could check the bus schedule, which, unfortunately, I could not.  I explained it was an ebook reader, not an iPhone.  I also said the next generation of these devices will probably work like smart phones.

On the bus, people wanted to see what it was I was reading.  I had to be evasive.  Half the riders were black.  This is normally not an issue.  Unfortunately, I was reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Most people accept that this book is written in language offensive even to its author.  However, if you happen to be on the receiving end one of the slurs that appear throughout the book, it’s not likely you’re going to give me a chance to say, “Hey, wait.  It’s Mark Twain.”  Naturally, I was a bit more relaxed the following week when I read Victor Gischler’s Vampire A Go-Go.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that people appear surprised when I’m reading a print book.  The same lady who asked me about the Kindle at the bus stop was surprised when I had a copy of Stuart McBride’s Blind Eye tucked under my arm.  “A printed book?  But you have a Kindle.”

Yes, and I still buy print books.  What criteria do I use to decide between printed and electronic formats?

My mood.

That’s it.  Books are largely an impulse buy, and any attempt to apply logic to the process is doomed to failure.  I will say I have to be careful not to load myself down with books on Kindle.  There are still books I brought home from the 2004 Bouchercon that I haven’t read yet.

My boss also seemed surprised I read textbooks in print.  I had to explain that not everything is available on Kindle, and I have to buy the textbooks they tell me to at school.

I suspect the cool factor won’t last much longer.  The iPad will be out in a couple of weeks.  Then people will ask me why I don’t own one.  (Um…  I just bought the Kindle?)