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eBooks

    Random Thoughts: Book List Mania and the Thrill of the Pre-Order

    Monday nights are always exciting for those book lovers who have chosen eBooks as their format of choice. Whether it be Apple’s iBook store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders – or other bookseller of choice – generally the eBook versions are available just past midnight in your local timezone for download. (Apple iBooks are generally available, in the U.S. just past midnight Eastern, and so are available locally at the corresponding time.)

    Opting for eBooks gives the reader the advantage – not having to wait for the bookstore to open the very next day – and if the book is that highly anticipated, readers can pull an all-nighter and finish the book before those seeking the printed version even get to glance at their copy. This is definitely an advantage for those readers who choose to pre-order their books, at the earliest possible occasion, and have list upon list of books waiting for release date to be downloaded onto their device of choice.

    It may not hold the same level of excitement as rushing out to grab that physical copy, shiny and new, with its beautiful cover art, and having something tangible to pour over, or awaiting that knock on the door when the courier comes to deliver your new purchase, but it is still a thrill to see that pre-order move to purchased status and watching the “item downloaded” message appear on your device. And it is just as thrilling, for book fanatics, to have those new books at the ready to engage with immediately.

    Nothing has been quite the same since books online were made available for pre-order. Knowing that you can check a particular book off the “wish list” and that it will be sent to you, without fail, on release date provides such a level of comfort to a book junkie. And although not every book is made available for pre-order well in advance of release, at least these online booksellers allow you to add them to customized Wish Lists. That way, as the time approaches, a particular novel will not be missed. (It is every book lover’s fear to miss out on the release date of a must-read book, after all.)

    With the rise of Goodreads.com, a large social network dedicated to book lovers, “to read” lists have flourished. These lists not only help drum up excitement for an author’s new book, but also serve to feed the need for the book addict to create their lists knowing these books won’t be missed.

    Not only can you mark a particular book that you know about as “to read,” but you can find books by your favorite authors that you didn’t even know were coming out – long before pre-order availability – and add them to your lists. It is much easier than bookmarking your favorite author’s websites and blogs and repeatedly checking there daily for news and information on upcoming stories. The Goodreads faeries manage to get that information in one centralized location for you.

    Now that is not to say that you wouldn’t be checking your fave author’s sites for excerpts, giveaways, sneak peeks, trailers, etc., but if your favorite author list exceeds 25 it can be quite time consuming to keep on top of everything.

    On the negative side – and isn’t there always a negative side – these wish lists, to read lists and pre-orders can grow so exponentially that either they are completely unwieldy to manage or have such an unreasonable burden of expectation of ever keeping up with the quantity of books on them. And if they are purchased they can be quite costly – especially if the purchaser couldn’t possibly find the time to read all of their books. It is far easier to ignore an eBook than a stack of 50 unread tomes being used as an end table. And, for those with OCD tendencies, they can become quite the obsession – the maintenance in trying to keep everything updated and organized can be rather daunting.

    But these negatives aside, having the ability to create these lists and share them with your fellow book devotees is an absolutely wonderful, addictive hobby.

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    Rise of the eBook – Oh where, oh where have the editors gone?

    With the ever-growing popularity of electronic books, more and more authors are beginning to self-publish in eBook format. While this is a great opportunity for many young writers who wouldn’t be given the time of day by the large publishing houses – or even some of the smaller ones – it has allowed for unedited books to make their way into the hands and eReaders of avid book lovers.

    While most of the print editions of these self- or independently published works receive a bit more of a review process, often their electronic formatted counterparts don’t. And while it is nice to get something easily downloadable – at little or no cost – and which doesn’t set the author back financially, it doesn’t quite make up for the fact that just a little piece of the connection the reader has with the story and characters is broken when they have to stumble through dialog and descriptions fraught with errors.

    With Twitter, blogs, and online publications whose viewers expect up-to-the-minute information, it’s easy to want to rush to get something out quickly – even with mistakes – just to be timely and not miss the moment. And for these forms of communication readers are willing to accept less than perfect results just to get the information. But with a book – something that is to be enjoyed, at leisure – it is a chance for the reader to escape, to connect with the characters, to sympathize with their plight, to follow along on their adventures, and to take the journey the author has created for them.

    But when you sit down to delve into a newly downloaded book, ready to engage with the storyline and characters – whether it is by an author you’ve read before or by someone new – and you find that on the very first page that words are misspelled, in the wrong tense, missing, incorrect, or in the wrong order, it makes it very difficult to keep an open mind for the remainder of the book. If page one could be so overlooked does that bode poorly for the rest of the story? And if an author seems to care so little for his or her work, to not give it a final look, why should the reader? It’s one thing to find an occasional mistake, but when page after page of the final work product continues in the same vein, why should the reader invest their time when it might appear that the author didn’t?

    To be fair, a traditionally published novel goes through a rather rigorous editorial and proofreading process – with resources that an independent writer wouldn’t have at their disposal. However, there are other options – whether it be a friend or family member or trusted fan or follower – there is always someone who would be willing to review the authors work prior to publication. Even with publication deadlines, or just the need to “get it out there already,” first impressions do matter. And for an undiscovered author trying to make a name for themselves, or even a self-publishing author who already has an established fan-base, it is always best to deliver a product that they can be proud of, that their fans won’t be disappointed in, or one that won’t receive unnecessary criticism.

    While the eBook makes publishing that much easier, less expensive, and quick-to-market, it shouldn’t be of lesser quality than a printed book. And with the publishing industry still continuing to struggle as fewer and fewer readers opt to purchase print copies of magazines and newspapers, there surely must be a few editors, copywriters and proofreaders, with some extra time on their hands, willing to lend a hand. They can’t all have disappeared into the ether, or can they?

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