Archive for the ‘e-book’ Tag

Best Books of 2014

As always, I have been using Goodreads to keep track of the books I read throughout the year. I set myself a goal to read 65 books in 2014. I actually managed to read 71.

The number of books I have been reading since I started keeping track on Goodreads has been steadily increasing year on year. Just look at the stats:

2011 – 55 books read
2012 – 60 books read
2013 – 63 books read
2014 – 71 books read

I am not sure why this number is increasing. I have started reading books on the journey in to work, whereas I used to read the newspaper, so that’s a difference. I used to take the underground from London Bridge to Holborn every morning, which required changing trains and a great deal of walking to get from one platform to another, which would interrupt my reading time. This year I’ve started taking the bus instead, which is a straight 20 minutes of uninterrupted reading time before I have to get off. So I think that’s made a difference too.

Another noticeable change in reading habits in this past year is the increasing number of books I have read on the Kindle, as opposed to paper books. In fact the only paper books I read were those that I was sent by Shots e-zine to review for them, those that I picked up as freebies from conventions and those that had been given to me as gifts or were already on my shelves (for instance the Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky books). Every new book that I purchased myself, I bought as a Kindle version. The convenience of the Kindle is making a significant impact on my reading habits, and now that I have a plastic waterproof cover for it, I can even read it in the bath (which is another place I like to get some quiet reading time).

I started the year re-reading the Sara Paretsky books, who as I have mentioned many times is and always will be one of my all-time favourite authors. I enjoy all of her books, and many of the five-star rated books of 2014 are hers. I read many excellent books in 2014. However, since there were all of 16 books I gave five stars to, this already makes for a long list of ‘Best books read in 2014’. So although there are many deserving four-star books that should be on the list, the final cut contains only the ones I rated five stars. Some of them I have reviewed on Goodreads, and the link is included. Others I have included a few words about below the title.

Lamentation – CJ Sansom

This is the sixth book in the excellent crime series about Matthew Shardlake, hunchback lawyer in the time of Henry VIII, and it just as good as the previous in the series. The series is not only excellently researched, but each one has featured one of Henry’s six Queens, in chronological order. In this latest book, Henry is dying and his last Queen, Catherine Parr, has written a book called ‘Lamentation of a Sinner’ that has been stolen. Shardlake is hired to find out who stole the book and retrieve it, for if it gets out into the public domain it could prove the Queen guilty of treason.

The religious and political instability of this era is effectively portrayed. My only worry was that with the death of Henry VIII there would be no more Shardlake books. Without giving away too much, however, the end of this book sets the stage for a potential new era of Shardlake adventures.

Before I Go Sleep – SJ Watson

A film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth was released of this book last year. It’s the sort of plot where you either read the book or see the film because once you know the ending, it’s a fairly major spoiler.

The premise of the plot is that Christine Lucas has suffered an accident that affects her long-term memory. Every day she wakes up with no memory of the last twenty years, and the man she wakes up next to, who tells her he is her husband, is a stranger to her. It’s a frightening concept, but as Christine tries to explore her surroundings she discovers she has secrets she has not been telling her husband. Who can she trust?

This book is a very exciting and gripping thriller, and I was hooked from the first chapter.

V is for Vengeance – Sue Grafton
W is for Wasted – Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton is another of my all-time favourite authors, and I love her feminist, kick-ass heroine Kinsey Millhone. The books are all set in the 1980s, when Grafton started the series, and she says she is going to stop at Z. So there will only be three more, which makes me sad. However, this is another series I shall enjoy re-reading, since it’s been some time since I read the early books and I can’t remember much about them.

The Secret Place – Tana French

This is book five of the Dublin Murder Squad series, and I haven’t read the other four, but found this book in my pile of free booty from the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. It involves the murder of a teenage boy on the grounds of an expensive boarding school for girls. The investigating officers whittle the list of suspects down to eight girls – two groups of four, close-knit clusters of friends. But who killed Chris Harper? I really wanted to find out. And this book about adults moving around in the world of adolescent girls made me feel really glad I am long past that stage of life – been there, done that, no wish to go back thank you very much.

Breakdown – Sara Paretsky
Hardball – Sara Paretsky
Blacklist – Sara Paretsky
Hard Time – Sara Paretsky
Tunnel Vision – Sara Paretsky
Guardian Angel – Sara Paretsky
Burn Marks – Sara Paretsky
Body Work – Sara Paretsky

I worship the ground Ms Paretsky walks on. I’ve re-read every VI Warshawski book, and in doing so came across a couple that were new to me (‘Hardball’, which somehow I missed the first time around, and the latest book ‘Breakdown’). I now eagerly await the next book, out later this year. VI Warshawski is now in her fifties, though, and I wonder how much longer she can run around scaling walls and getting shot at.

Stone Bruises – Simon Beckett

Merivel: A Man of His Time – Rose Tremain

The Accident – CL Taylor

Sometimes I browse the Kindle specials store, and end up finding something really good for 99p. This was one of those occasions. The premise involves a teenage girl who ends up in a coma after deliberating stepping in front of a bus. Her mother, desperate to find out why her daughter tried to kill herself, starts to investigate and discovers some murky secrets in her daughter’s life that she knew nothing about. It’s another suspenseful page-turner.

And so this is my review of the best books I read in 2014. I have set myself a goal to read 70 books in 2015. Could be a challenge, but the Kindle is charged and loaded with plenty of unread books, all ready for my return to the day job and the London commute tomorrow. I suppose that’s one good thing about the days the train service is appalling. The longer it takes me get home, the more reading time I have.

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Mystery Bargain Bundle

DEATH SCENE is one of four e-books in a special limited-edition holiday bundle from MuseItUp Publishing.  Entitled ‘Sirens on Death Starke Avenue’, a name amalgamating four titles, these four mystery novels can be bought in one bundle for the bargain price of $1.99. And my fellow ‘bundlees’ (if that’s a word) have all been blogging about our bundle this week, so today’s post is a blatant plug for the four books in this bundle and links to the author blogs.

SIRENSONSTARKEDEATHBLVD_boxsetSTARK NAKED DEAD by  Conda V Douglas
The gossiping women of the Widows Brigade in the new ski resort of Starke, Idaho love a good scandal—this time it’s a murder mystery, and a stark naked corpse.

SUNSHINE BOULEVARD by J.Q. Rose
Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies.

THE SOUND OF SIRENS by Heather Fraser-Brainerd and David Fraser
Thanksgiving dinner with the family can be murder. Especially when someone is actually trying to kill you.

DEATH SCENE by Sara Jayne Townsend
Poking around in family closets produces skeletons, and actress Shara Summers takes on more than she can handle when she starts investigating family mysteries.

So that’s four books by five authors, bundled up in 747 pages of suspense, for the bargain price of only $1.99 until 2 December.

This bundle is available direct from MuseItUp Publishing.

DEAD COOL Launch Day!

Dead Cool 200x300It’s here at last! The long-awaited release day for the second Shara Summers novel, DEAD COOL. And I’m celebrating with an online launch party on Facebook later today. It will be starting around 6:30pm Greenwich Mean Time – when I get home from the day job, basically. If you go to the FB event, it is clever enough to tell you what time it will start in your time zone.

There will be prizes on offer, and chat. I will get the ball rolling here by offering one free copy of DEAD COOL, in whichever e-book format you prefer.  Comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning.  If you put a comment on the Facebook event page today as well, you’ll get to go in the draw twice! The draw will be made at noon tomorrow.

If you don’t want to wait that long for your copy, you can buy it in all e-book formats direct from MuseItUp. For Kindle owners, the UK link is here and the US link here.  And if you’ve got a Kobo or a Nook, I’m even giving you the links to buy it there, too.

As a teaser, here is the back cover blurb:

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with. Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window. It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed. His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

Until I get home from work, the celebrations will be limited to a little virtual champagne.  But do stop by the online party later, for some more serious celebrations.

Cheers!

champagne

 

 

DEATH SCENE Release Day!

It’s here at last! DEATH SCENE is released! Or, I should say, officially re-released since this is the second publication for this particular book. But a different publishing house means a different editing process, so if you did read it the first time round, you’ll find there are some differences in this version.

Death Scene 200x300I am very excited about this day finally arriving, and I love DEATH SCENE’s fab new cover. To celebrate sending my amateur sleuth Shara Summers out into the world once more, I am giving away a free copy of the e-book. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is post a comment on this blog. It’s that easy. There aren’t even any questions to answer! Everyone who has posted a comment by midnight (GMT time) tonight will go into the drawer, and the winner will be chosen at random tomorrow morning. When you post your comment, please ensure you include your email address in the comments form when it asks you to, so I know how to contact you if you should win.

If you don’t win, there will be another chance to win a second copy, as I am making a guest appearance on John Rosenman‘s blog tomorrow and giving away another copy. So swing by there on Tuesday and post another comment.

If you still don’t win, and have to resort to buying a copy, it is available in all e-book formats from MuseItUp Publishing now.

And because I know some people like their one-click Kindle buy options, I’m even going to supply links to worldwide Kindle purchases (which of course are restricted by region).

09_25_53---Glass-of-Champagne_web

USA
UK
Canada
Australia

If I’ve left out your region I’m sorry. I am rather assuming I’m not internationally famous at this stage.

And while you’re surfing the Internet, go and check out Victoria Roder’s blog, where today I am making a special release-day appearance talking about family ties and how important they are to my amateur sleuth.

And while you’re doing that, I’m going to have some more virtual champagne. Cheers!

Books, Books and E-books

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Ever since I first learned how to read, I have spent much of my time with my nose in a book. I was starting to read by myself by age seven, I think. That’s a good 37 years ago. I have devoured a great many books in that time.

In recent years there has been much debate about the format of books – hardback; paperback; e-book. In my own personal library, there are more paperbacks than anything else. But this is largely because I have been a commuter for the last 25 years, and most of my reading has been done on the train to and from work. Paperbacks are much more transportable than hardbacks. In the last four years or so I’ve had an e-reader and have been collecting e-books, and it won’t be long before they overtake the number of paperbacks, even given their relatively recent appearance on the market.

I also possess a number of hardbacks in my library. Most of them have come my way as gifts, from someone who wants to buy me the absolute latest novel by one of my favourite authors, and who feels that a hardback is a more substantial gift than a paperback. I also have hardbacks that are personalised and signed by the author, because I went to their signing session and bought the book.

Ultimately the format is not as important as the words in the page. Books can transport you into another world. They are an escape from everyday life. They are the key to you becoming someone else, even if just for a few hours.  A dashing and brave hero. A magician with superior intellect. A hard-bitten cynical cop. The daring captain of a spaceship. Whatever you want to be, the words of a novel can take you there.

And yet the format of a book still matters, even though it shouldn’t. Many people insist they don’t like the idea of e-books because they prefer the feel of a ‘proper’ book. As if e-books are somehow not ‘proper’ books. I must admit I was a tad suspicious about them myself, until I got my first e-reader and realised how wonderful they were. No longer do I have to weigh down my suitcase with half a dozen books when I go on holiday for two weeks – all I need is my Kindle, and I have all the books I want. If I finish reading a book on the way into work, I don’t have to lug another around another for the journey home, I just open up another book on the Kindle. My handbag is much lighter with the Kindle in, instead of a paper book. I am someone who has a book with her at all times, no matter where she is going. And a Kindle is so much easier to transport. It will practically fit into a pocket.

My e-reader has also allowed me to buy more books.  I browse the 99p books in the Kindle e-book store almost daily.  Quite often if I am intrigued by a book’s cover and blurb I will decide to take a chance on it because it’s not a lot of money to part with, and it might lead me to discover a wonderful new author.  One click is all it takes to buy that book and transfer it to my Kindle.  It’s ready to begin reading mere seconds later.  And best of all, I don’t have to find shelf space for all these new books because they don’t take up physical space.

Yet in spite of this, I haven’t stopped buying paper books. I will go to signing sessions and buy hardbacks. I will browse second hand book shops and buy books that take my fancy. I still browse book shops, heaven forbid, and take a punt on a new author’s paperback simply because the cover and blurb on the back attract me. And I don’t think this will ever change.

As a lover of books in all formats, it worries me there’s still some resistance to e-books – occasionally even from publishers, though this is getting better. Only this morning I was reading an article in the news stating that e-book sales are predicted to overtake paper book sales in the UK by 2018.  And a spokesperson for a particular publisher was quoted about how e-books have revitalised the book market, with the technology to make e-books available on tablets and so forth making reading accessible to people who never used to be book buyers.

I’m not someone who gives books to charity shops when she’s re-read them.  Maybe this is a selfish attitude, but I like to have books available to re-read at a future date.  Going back to a favourite book is like visiting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Hardbacks do make this a bit problematic, though, when most of my reading is done on the move.  I’m in the process of re-reading Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski books, and the next book on the list is BODY WORK. My copy of this is a hardback, signed to me personally by Sara because I met the great lady herself at the UK launch for this book. And as she is one of my favourite authors of all time, I will treasure it. Having paid £15 for this signed copy, I don’t particularly want to have it bashed about in my bag on the train, or dropped in the bath, or whatever. Ideally I’d like to keep the hardback on the shelf and have a electronic version to re-read, but this would mean having to pay for a second copy of a book I already legitimately own.

I’m sure I’m not the only reader out there who likes to have shelves surrounded by books, whilst enjoying the convenience that an e-reader brings to the reading experience.  I’d like to see publishers bundling a free e-book version of a novel with every hardback edition sold.  That would certainly encourage me to buy more hardbacks to fill up my bookshelves at home, and I’d still get to enjoy the convenience of my e-reader on my daily commute.

A few years ago there seemed to be much suspicion in the publishing world, and a widely held view that e-books would see the end of paper books.  I maintained then, and still maintain now, that there is room in the world for e-books and paper books to exist together, and there does seem to be more people acknowledging this now.  But there’s still a way to go before e-books and paperbacks are truly equal.

A Few Words On Self-Publishing

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

The rise of the e-book has led to an increase in self-publishing.  Never has it been easier to self-publish your book.  In fact all you actually need to do is format your manuscript correctly, add a cover image, upload it to Kindle and there it is, available to download to whoever wants it.

This is a pretty controversial subject.  A lot of people in the publishing industry are of the opinion that every self-published book is badly written and badly edited, and anyone with any modicum of talent will eventually be picked up by a “proper” publisher.

The self published authors tell a different story.  Most of them have been discouraged by years of rejections, convinced that their book is not necessarily bad, but not marketable enough to be picked up.  Sometimes there is truth to this belief.  Of course there are a lot of delusional people out there as well, but that’s digressing a bit.

When I first started submitting novels to publishers, over 25 years ago, the process was very different.  To get a publisher you had to get an agent.  That meant sending in the first three chapters, by mail, including a stamped self-addressed return envelope.  To get the latter meant standing in line at the post office with your open envelope, having it weighed to find out how much postage would cost, buying that amount twice, then having to remove the SAE to put stamps on it, seal your envelope, and then put stamps on the outer envelope.  And then a couple of weeks later you’d get home from work to discover a brown envelope with your handwriting on the doorstep, and your heart would sink because you knew that it was another rejection.

And after all that, the pages would come back having been all creased and curled in the mail, and not in a fit state to send out to anyone else and so as well as having to buy so many stamps you were spending a fortune on paper and ink (I had an Amstrad PCW in those days – it used a dot matrix printer).

Vanity presses we knew to avoid at all costs, and self publishing wasn’t a terribly attractive option, because you had to lay out costs for printing and typesetting, and find somewhere to store the finished product, and anything self-published was perceived to be of insufficent quality to find a publisher

The publishing industry has changed since then.  There are a lot more small independent presses around willing to take a chance on new writers, and you don’t need an agent to submit to them, but it seems to be getting harder for new writers to break into the big established publishers – unless they are showing signs of being the next JK Rowlings or Dan Brown.  And online e-publishers like Amazon and Smashwords are making it far easier to self-publish e-books.

I have to admit my tune has changed on the self-publishing front.  If you get bored of being told what you’re writing isn’t going to sell, then self publishing becomes an attractive option.  But it is true that there are a lot of self-published books out there that are badly written and badly edited, and really aren’t helping to dispel this notion that all self-published books are rubbish.

In my opinion, there are three crucial things that a writer should do before they even consider self-publishing.  In order of importance, they are:

1.  When the manuscript is finished, send it to some beta readers to read and comment.  Heed their comments and re-write the manuscript.  Criticism can be hard to take, but most writers are too close to their work to be able to judge it obectively.  A writing group is really helpful for this.  If you can’t find one locally, go to an online writers’ forum like Absolute Write.  You’ll pick up valuable advice on the writing process anyway, and you will undoubtedly find a few helpful souls who are willing to give you an email crit.

2.  Pay a professional editor to edit your manuscript.  This can be expensive, but you need to invest in it, and it will set you apart from the rank amateurs.  No matter how good you think you are at spelling and grammar, there’ll always be something you overlook.  Just about every self-published book I have ever read contains at least one instance of “it’s” when should be “its” – for the record, the former is a contraction of “it is”; the latter means “belonging to it”.  If I come across this in any published book, I’ll be grinding my teeth and probably won’t finish reading it.

3.  Ensure your book has a professional looking cover.  And this does not mean you playing around with clip art and a graphics programme for half an hour.  Pay an artist, or someone with professional experience in creating cover images.  If you don’t know anyone, ask around your social network for a recommendation.

There’s nothing wrong with self publishing your own book as long as you’ve done these three things.  Yes it means forking out cash, but you are investing in your reputation as a writer, and if readers buy your book and enjoy it, they are likely to recommend it to others – and nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to book sales.

If every self-published author did these things, we would go a long way towards changing the perception of self-published books as all being rubbish.  There are some brilliant self-published e-books to be found in the Kindle Store.  But sometimes you have to sift through a lot of mud to find the golden nuggets.

Let’s work towards a world where there’s more gold than mud out there to find.

 

Farewell to Dot Lumley

I was saddened this week to learn that literary agent Dot Lumley had lost her battle with cancer.  I met Dot on several occasions over the years, and she was a lovely lady, who always had time for writers, be they new or more established ones.

Dot handled many genres of fiction incuding both crime and horror.  I submitted both SUFFER THE CHILDREN and DEATH SCENE to her.  She rejected both, but with personal letters and encouraging words that convinced me she had taken the time to read them through, instead of going down the form rejection route.

Our paths crossed at a variety of conventions – since she dealt with all genres she attended both the crime and the horror/SF/fantasy Cons.  At the St Hilda’s Crime Conference in August 2009, I found myself sitting next to her at dinner on the Saturday night.  The contract for SUFFER THE CHILDREN from Lyrical Press had come to me days before, and I was still trying to decide whether or not to accept it.  I knew that Lyrical Press was an e-book only publisher, and by accepting the contract I was likely to forfeit the opportunity to ever see SUFFER THE CHILDREN in print.  I took the opportunity to ask Dot for her advice.  She told me that if this was a manuscript that was doing the rounds for a while (it had been), and if the e-book contract was for a finite length of time (it was), then I had nothing to lose and I should go for it.  When I returned home at the end of the weekend, I took Dot’s advice and sent an email accepting the contract.

Me and Dot Lumley, January 2011

Me and Dot Lumley, January 2011

The last time I saw Dot was in January 2011.  The T Party Writers’ Group hold a Winter Social in the early months of the year, where we get together for food, drink and chat.  In the last few years we have taken to inviting guests – authors, agents and editors who have come to speak to the group or got involved with us in some other way.  Or sometimes just because we like them.  Dot was attending our social event as a guest that year, and I spent a good part of the evening chatting to her.  In fact, at one point it was just her and me sitting in a corner on our own.  Then my husband started chatting to one of our other guests, Mike Carey – it turns out they have a shared interest in building model kits – and a few minutes later I realised that the rest of the group were pulling chairs up to join us at the table, and we had been hogging the special guests.

This picture was taken on that evening.  Much wine had flowed by that point.

When I heard about Dot’s death I felt compelled to pay homage to her in a blog post.  I had to look back at previous posts to avoid repeating myself, as I was sure I had told at least one of these stories on this blog before, but it turns out that I hadn’t.  Sometimes I think about posting things and then don’t, for whatever reason.  I think in this case I wrote a post about our social event and the famous guests I had been schmoozing with, and was worried it would come across as nothing more than blatant name-dropping so I deleted it.  I also had a reluctance to share this photo, which I considered somewhat unflattering at the time.

But now Dot is gone, and this is the only picture I have of the two of us together – a record of the last conversation I will ever have with her.  Once again I am reminded of how brief and fragile life is.  Now I want to share this photo with the world, and it no longer seems unflattering, because in it we are both alive and well, and smiling.

Dot was an exceptional lady and the publishing world is all the poorer now she has left it.  Jo Fletcher has written a very touching blog post paying tribute to Dot’s courage, and I encourage you to go read it. It’s far more eloquent than what I have written here.

Many literary figures have left us of late – James Herbert, Iain Banks and Ann Crispin are names that immediately spring to mind.  Dot Lumley was not as famous as these other names, but she touched many lives in the publishing world, including mine.  Her absence will be noticed.

Goodbye, Dot.  I shall miss running into you at conventions, but I hope you have found peace.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN Rebooted: Cover Reveal

THE SARA JAYNE FINAL 2 font(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

SUFFER THE CHILDREN, my first novel with Lyrical Press, will be relaunched as a e-book at the end of June. Lyrical returned the rights to me at the end of my three-year contract, and I have decided to re-release it, as a back list title, myself.

I can now reveal for the first time its awesome new cover, featuring original artwork from David Bezzina.

I always had a special fondness for SUFFER THE CHILDREN, for many reasons, and not just because it was my first published novel. It took me ten years to write, and I learned so much in the process – not just in the writing, but in the editing and publishing process that followed. I still think it holds its own as a horror novel, and I am very excited that I am able to make it available once more, with a new cover.

So if you haven’t read SUFFER THE CHILDREN yet, never fear – it will soon be available to download to your e-reader once more. Watch this space for further information…

End of an Era

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Most books aren’t published forever. Print publishers make room for new titles by having limited print runs, and backlisted titles that don’t sell are often not reprinted. Since e-books are technically forever, e-book publishers often deal with this by offering time-limited contracts.

Sadly, this means that my three-year contract with Lyrical Press for SUFFER THE CHILDREN has now come to an end. The e-book in its current format has disappeared from all online retailers. This has been a hard thing to deal with. It’s particularly depressing to discover that it’s gone from the Amazon Kindle list, along with the handful of generally positive reviews it had notched up. Somehow seeing it on Amazon made me feel validated as an author.

However, the good news is that with the end of the contract, the rights have reverted back to me, to do with them as I see fit. And SUFFER THE CHILDREN will return as an e-book, although with a different cover. In fact, I’ve commissioned an artist I know to work on the new cover image. Watch this space for more information.

In the meantime, SUFFER THE CHILDREN is still on Goodreads – at least it is at present. With the recent news about Amazon taking over Goodreads, who knows what’s going to happen. For now, at least, it’s there, along with a few reviews that people have posted there. So if you enjoyed SUFFER THE CHILDREN, why not go post a review there? It might help me boost sales when the rebooted version is released.

If you didn’t get around to buying it, all is not lost, as it will be back in the near future. In the meantime, you could try DEATH SCENE or SOUL SCREAMS while you wait. Both of them are still available from Amazon…

The Future of Publishing

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Bricks-and-mortar book shops have been having a bad time of late.  Borders was the latest big chain to file for bankruptcy.  In the UK, the only book store chain still in existence in Waterstones, and there are very few independent book shops left.

Meanwhile the popularity of e-books continues to rise. Some Internet murmurings suggest that the rise of e-books is directly responsible for the downfall of bricks-and-mortar book shops.

It could be argued, however, that the demise of the book shop is not down to e-books but online retailers like Amazon, as people switch to doing their shopping online, in the comfort of their own homes.

E-books are not going away any time soon, and the publishing industry, like it or not, has to adapt accordingly.  Readers do not expect to pay the same price for an e-book as they do for a hardback.  Some readers may prefer to buy the e-book instead of the paper book, but some readers might buy both – they might go to the signing session and buy a pristine hardback copy to keep on their shelf, and buy the e-book as well to read on their daily commute.  A few savvy publishers have started to issue the e-book version free to anyone that buys the hardback – this seems like  an excellent idea, and will encourage more readers to fork out for the hardback. I myself am reluctant to buy hardbacks, as I do most of my reading on my commute to work. If the e-book was thrown in for free, I might be more inclined to buy the two-for-one, so that I could keep the hardback pristine and shiny on my book shelf whilst reading the e-book on my way to work.

There appears to be some fear that e-books will kill off paper books. There is also a fear of piracy. My view all along has been that there is room in the industry for both, and that the best way to combat piracy is to make books freely available, in all formats and in all regions. Get rid of the DRM system, and make e-books available in a universal format that can be read on all e-readers.

A lot of people claim they are suspicious of e-books because they like the smell and feel of old paper books. Yet I’ve spoken to many such people, who, upon finding themselves in possession of an e-reader, soon come to adore it. I myself am in this category. Liking e-books doesn’t mean one has to stop buying paper books. I just find myself buying even more books these days. I still buy paper books, but I buy far more e-books because I don’t have to worry about storage space for e-books.

Another interesting factor, though, is that people who were never readers of paper books but are into gadgets, gain possession of an e-reader and soon find themselves vociferous readers. If e-readers are encouraging more people to read, that’s another big point in their favour.

E-books might be the future of publishing, but paper books have their place too. Ultimately the aim of the publishing industry is to get more people to read. Format and retail habits should be secondary – as long as people are buying books to read, does it really matter what format they are in?