To E or not to E?

Had a great weekend working in the dirt, ripping out one very overgrown bush and moving three from another part of the property into its place.  It was doubly satisfying because the three we moved were crowed and going to have to come out anyway, and now they’re in the ground, not the dumpster.

Working too hard on the weekend is part of my master plan to get things done during the week.  If I’m too achy and sore to do anything but sit for three days, then I’m more likely to ah . . . sit for three days.  Grace is moving forward.

I’ve got a bit more from that unused interview for you today concerning my thoughts on the pros and cons of electronic books.  Enjoy!


What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers such as Kindle, Kobo & Nook to the environment?

This is a hard question to answer as the benefits in avoiding chopping down trees, the enormous impact on the environment turning said trees into books, and then trucking them across the country only to then relocate unsold books into the waste stream can’t be dismissed.  However . . . there’s a largely untalked about problem in the toxic waste generated in simply making electronic readers, compounded by the problem that many are made to last only a few years before needing to be replaced, either because of designed decrepitude or that sparkles of the next model are irresistible.  These toxic compounds are likely going to end up in a landfill where, when compounded with others in huge techno dumps, can damage the environment from cradle to grave.

I’ve not investigated the pros and cons with enough depth to give a solid yes or no to the benefits of e-readers, but it seems to me that the consumer should purchase what form of book works best for him or her.  Me, I like my tactile paper books, but the benefits of having your library at your fingertips is hard to dismiss.  It’s a personal choice and I don’t see a problem in having both.  Perhaps some effort should be spent in redesigning a new production and marketing system for paper books that doesn’t involve quite so much waste.

What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?

It has been my personal experience that electronic books have had a positive impact on my sales, not just from established readers tired of agonizing over where to put their new book shelf, but for garnering new readers as well.  That a lot of my readership stems from romance and science fiction, both of who are computer and Internet savvy, doesn’t hurt.

It’s far easier for many people to take a chance on a new-to-them author if the format is electronic.  It’s not always about the price, but the space that an unwanted book takes up and the decision on what to do with a book you don’t like.  Most people who read love books, and the thought of throwing a paper book away, even one they didn’t like, is akin to nails on a blackboard.  Giving your friend a book you didn’t enjoy isn’t likely to happen, either.  Tossing electrons back into the ether is a lot easier on the soul.


Filed under Drama Box

33 responses to “To E or not to E?

  1. Wow, what a response! I’m not going to comment on everyone’s post today because they are opinions, (mostly) and you guys are so great in stating your thoughts without stomping on other’s ideas. (I have the best readers evah!)

    Also, if you are wanting to get rid of paperbacks, you can donate them to the military here:

  2. Jenn

    Morning Kim,

    Thank you again for sharing your opinion about e-books. As an avid reader, I do enjoy the feel of a book & still collect favorite series/authors in paper books, but for all others, I has switched to e-books. I like the convenience of them plus I think that it is better for the enviroment as I do take care of my devices to make them last as long as possible. I think you just have to be careful to research & get the correct e-book for you.

  3. Marsha

    I’m going to have to break down and get an e-reader or a tablet. I have noticed there are many more e-publishing companies on line now and I think it’s a great way to support new writers while they hone their craft.

  4. SeattleRobin

    “Tossing electrons back into the ether is a lot easier on the soul.”

    This is so true!

    I’m glad you mentioned the toxic waste and landfill issues when it comes to e-readers. A lot of people think only in terms of not chopping down trees, but it’s more complicated than that.

    A couple different groups have done studies and came to the conclusion you need to read approximately 75-100 ebooks on your e-reader that you would have purchased as new paper books before the environmental costs even out. After that the e-reader starts coming out ahead environmentally. Obviously for most avid readers it’s not difficult to get to that point. 🙂

    I liked Greg’s beach story. I’ve been in love with my Kindle since I first got it. But the first time I finished a book while reading in bed at 1am and was able to buy and download the next one in the series and begin reading it, all without having to step foot out of bed, I realized the true beauty of the whole thing. 😀

  5. Nice thoughts Kim.

    I’m still juggling the idea of going techy for my books. The tid bits given here get me going that direction.. but I’m just not ready yet. When I’m ready I’ll know right?.. Like “The One” ha! hmmmm…

    It will make my heart beat twice as fast!, my face flush!, and my tongue twist!… ~Or it could be on sale. Nothing says SOLD to me like a good bargain 😉

    So.. we’ll see.

  6. Jan

    For me, at 56 and with arthritis settling into my hands (specifically the balls of my thumbs), my Kindle was a godsend. Holding a book, even a thin paperback, was very very painful. I tried book supports and such, but I had to hold those.

    The Kindle, at it’s very light weight, was wonderful. Also, I acquired a small base, that I can rest on the arm of the sofa or, if I’m reclined, on my torso, and read and read and read.

  7. Sarah

    I’ve never binned a book, i just can’t do it, they may get donated if they were truly awful but that’s rare so my kindle has been a godsend. I still love ‘real’ books from great authors but have to be choosy about who I can cram onto my overstuffed shelves. Since i finally had a free weekend Pale Demon has just snagged itself a place (been craving the paperback but had to wait a week for a free day to read it as i knew i wouldn’t be able to put it down) but thats the first proper book i’ve bought since i got my Kindle for christmas! I did question the longevity of the kindle and whether i’d be suckered into upgrading and but as long as they don’t change the data format i’ll never update it, i’m getting quite attached 🙂

  8. One thing about eBooks… convenience. I know you touched on it in your post, but when people ask me why I like my Nook, I always bring up this personal experience…

    I was visiting friends in Florida a couple of years ago. I’d already read all of Kim Harrison’s (my go-to author for reading) new work, and one of our friends suggested I read Game of Thrones. This sounded great, so I went to purchase the book. The problem was, I was at the beach… and didn’t want to leave. Using my Nook, I was able to look up, find, purchase, and download the book. The entire process took less than 3 minutes, after which I was reading.

    You just can’t beat that kind of experience. Ever. And it’s one reason that (in my very sad opinion) Borders went out of business. I don’t think books are going away (kinda hard to get your eBook signed by the author for example) any time soon, but business models absolutely must include electronic formats as central to their thinking.

    That’s my thoughts at least.

  9. Bookenz

    Having an e-reader (iPad2) for me has made a huge difference. I went from reading the occasionally book to being a voracious reader. I watch less tv too.

  10. James R, Fox

    Hi CTann-Star-It’s Jim from Warren. Honey, this is why God invented flash drive. Go to best buy and scream” External memory for my Key chain!” and ye shall be blessed. I bought 18gig at radioshack for 35.00. Just slip those nasty ol’memories on your key chain,and you are free.I have scandisk but there are better ones.

    • Hi Jim! Stellar idea. I’m going shopping, darling! 😉

    • James R, Fox

      Hi CTann-Starr-get yourself a good one, like Pvt Bradley Manning used to download all the secret documents at the Army base where he worked,70 gig I think it was. then work goes on your keychain,the good stull like Ms Kim on your comp, and your back-up service where it belongs

  11. W. Fox

    Just wanted to add, no one should ever throw old books out!!! If you don’t have a used book store nearby, drop them off at your local library, or put them on Craigslist (you can do a free curb-alert, I guarantee someone will pick them up). Or even go to Bookcrossing!

  12. Lizzy

    I agree on wishing for an e-reader that is meant to be used long term, not just discarded when the next model comes out. I have a nook color. I spent 2 years looking at e-readers before I decided on that one, and I will be using it for at least 10 years, and I hope for many more after that.
    I also wish they would make a cell phone that was long lasting. I hate getting rid of my phone after 2 years just because it’s not working properly anymore and it is more money to fix than replace.

  13. Tim Collins

    When I am asked to predict the future I always look Back, toward the past when “we” were in a similar position. One hundred years ago in 1911 only people who were well off knew how to read. The poor and a chunk of the middle class held on to the verbal word only, or could scratch out the few words they knew on a small chalk board they carried. (Just about the same size as a Nook, or Kindle.) Most used an “X” and a witness to sign their name to any legal document. In a decade or 2 Everyone had to read to hold down a decent job, and libiaries opened up information to people who did not have 2 cents to rub together. And like the internet, it was free.

    My prediction? Like the books of 100 years ago that were made of worked leather and gold guilded pages, our Nooks, etc… will be out of date in a decade, to the point that circuits will be printed in a single sheet of flexible “Paper” that can be folded or put in your pocket. Instead of a libiary at your fingertips you will have the World. So unless we do anything stupid, like make more Nuclear Power Plants the future seems a bit rosier than it appears at the present time.
    See Ya! Tim
    PS: Bless you for giving your fans a place to communicate with you, and each other.
    BTW: A bit of possible good news, in 1911 penicillin was sucessfully and safely injected into the human body. Life spans doubled.
    I wonder what is just down the pike now…?

  14. Sara

    Hey Kim, just read the response to Friday’s post (coffee stuff!) and you said Guy was a coffee snob – who knew?! :p Yep, one of the signs of good (or really bad) coffee is definitely the smell in the air. If you (guys) ever come to Oklahoma City for a signing, or just to drive though, I’ve got a great recommendation for you (him – though they do tea as well like chai and various other daily offerings from a local tea shop): Elemental Coffee (on 8th and Hudson – should there be any locals who check out your blog) just opened this year and they are doing some great stuff. I can’t function without stopping there every morning.

    Also, I love reading about how busy your weekends are. I can’t imagine how hard it is to sit for hours on end five days a week for work. No wonder your weekends are crammed full of activity! My week is mostly spent trying to burn out all that extra energy during the day (after breakfast and checking out the intertubes, of course) so I can sleep at night. :p Seems like as I get older there is soo much more of it and I honestly can’t lay still at night if I’ve done nothing all day. ‘Cept Sunday. That’s our designated “sit still and do nothing” day, as Monday brings the hectic back.

    Thanks for posting more niblets from interviews that didn’t see the light of day. I hadn’t actually thought about what went in to making an e-reader. I don’t own one (love the tactile pleasure and smell of books too much), but my husband had thrown around the idea of getting one. It’s not often I stop and think about where our electronics come from….

  15. One advantage to my Kindle is that I can sample an author before committing to purchase. One disadvantage is that I can sample an author, then buy the book immediately because it invariably stops at a crucial story point.

    My husband found another 3 boxes of books in the garage, leftovers from when we moved here in December of 2009. I’d wondered where they’d gotten to, thinking I may have given them away. I’m glad I didn’t; they’re good books. Now I need another bookshelf.

    Toxic waste versus landfill mass is a difficult subject to discuss with no positive solution. I think we all need to be as responsible as we can, share what we have more of to those who don’t, and figure out how to creatively re-purpose our cast-offs.

  16. I was sure I would hate e-readers, but I gifted myself with a Kindle earlier this year and my life has changed!!!! I’m now very angry that my TBR pile is so huge and I can’t afford to re-purchase everything in e-format! I ❤ my Kindle, and carry it with me everywhere.

  17. If you use Kindle-for-PC you get your color covers (someone mentioned wanting a Nook for that) and you are using electronics you already own. Yes, it is still landfill issue down the road, but something you already have.

    I also will not buy new books that are over $10 on Kindle – to me that is crazy…and will wait a year. But I already did that when I had to wait for a book to come out in paperback, so that is not a change at all.

    I *do* like not having to buy another book case. I know they are just mostly paperbacks, but I cannot force myself to get rid of books.

    Kindle for PC and Kindle for Android! Read books on the cell over lunch break!

  18. Tossing electrons back into the ether is definitely a lot easier on the soul (silly grin).

    My problem is I’m a download monster. I’m 39 gigs away from filling up my laptop drive. I had to get a passport to start transferring files off of it so it will still function. Most people don’t know computers need 30 gigs for swap files to function at optimal levels, so being a book lover means I’m kind of screwed here. I may have to bug my hubby Michael for a new laptop (with a mega drive – LOL). My Android is almost full too. I’m killing my simm cards. 😉

    I love having both versions. Nothing beats the smell and feel of a new book… Especially for reading in the bath. The autographed ones are a real treat too. Can’t have people signing my Droid. Or can I? Hmm… (I may try this just for the novelty of it. Of course I’ll need a victim – LOL) 😉

    P.S. Your editor is bloody amazing. She’s all over the majority of our book club selections. We’re thinking of doing a YouTube review and floating all our fave covers and author websites (so we are making new music for the book club project and about to tease Vicki P and Jaye W with two trip-hop jazz tracks. My 5 yaer old said you guys need your own theme songs. We’re creating them because he’s the boss of us – LOL).

  19. Brittany Amos

    i very much prefer to read e-books in fact i have bought books on my e-reader that i own the hard copies i find it soooo much more convenient. i started with a palm pilot from 2005 in 2008 (ordered off e-bay) which lasted me until about 2010 when i dropped it into my coffee, 😦 but i loved the small size that i could bring it anywhere and the backlight! now i have an itouch which i bought used it was the first one out from 2007 bought from an friend and i am so glad i read a ton and it it perfect for me. so i think that as long as the companies make them to last sure people will want to upgrade but theres always someone to pick up the older models at a fraction of the cost like me ! (p.s. between the 2 i probably read at the very minimum 400 books 🙂 i get the read at work )

    The only thing i have to add is e-books should always be a buck or 2 cheaper as they don’t require the paper or the labour for each individual book it bothers me that they are the same price.

  20. I used to work for Barnes & Noble and I got to know their Nook well enough to make my decision about e-readers. I love paper format books, and I still read them. But I also own and love my Nook. I like to own every book I read mostly because I like to re-read them from time to time, but unfortunately I do not have space to keep them all as I live in one bedroom apartment. Nook was perfect solution for me. And yes, you can also share your books with a fellow nook owners, via Nook and Facebook. I love the idea of carrying my whole library with me wherever I go, and with over million book available for download for free and free book samples you can expand your reading horizons. I agree with your statement that whether choosing to read e-book or paper books it is a personal choice. I myself hope that book stores will still be there in years to come, it might require to change their business plans to adjust to embrace e-commerce, but even now I love to go to a book store with my Nook and sit down for a coffee and read.

  21. Howdy ma’am,

    As you know, I’m an avid Kindle user. It has more than paid for itself in just the cost of shipping alone.

    Another thing places like Amazon likes to do is offer the first book of an established series for free. Not long ago, I was able to get Dead Witch Walking for free. See they learned from the success of drug dealers. 🙂

    On another note.. Happy 4th anniversary!. It’s been 4 years since we ‘met’ at the Barns&Nobles forums. It’s been a real pleasure for me and I hope it has been for you to. Thank you.


  22. amanda

    I got nails on a chalkboard feeling when I read the line about unsol books going to the landfill. Its a painful thought. Too bad every neighborhood doesn’t have an Ed Mckays.

  23. The Kindle is great. So far I’ve read three of your books, all on the Kindle. I plan on finishing the rest of the Hollows Series on my Kindle. Living in Kenya makes the Kindle much more economical (as I save on shipping,) and I don’t have to wait a month or more to receive the book.

  24. kristy

    Funny I am in the middle of rearranging my books on the shelves to make room for more! I made my husband clean off 2 shelves that held his books so I could expand my space lol! Don’t worry he had some space in our library in the basement! But these said shelves were on my side of the bedroom! I do prefer paper over the ebooks but yes it would be cool to have the technology. And with 4 kids It’s alot cheaper to buy or borrow books when I can.

  25. Teresa Gemignani

    The Kindle has increased my capacity physically for books and my buying power. I am a big reader but the cost got me. I can get more books on the Kindle for the same money. That said, I am feeling the pinch of the price increases and will be slowing down on my newly published books.

    The Kindle has made it easy for me to try new authors like yourself, but if the pricing comes too close to printed books then I will slow down again. That isn’t good for the authors or the publishers.

    But you are on my “must buy” list now and I pre-order as soon as I can. That is the great part of the Kindle. Waking up the morning of the publishing date and turning on the Kindle to get a new book!

  26. Melissa from Jacksonville, NC- Hi Ms. Kim, thank you for talking about the electronic landfill aspect, I really had not thought about it. I bought my kindle 2 years ago, and already I want the nook color just because I personally, remember books better from the cover colors and the actual story. I hadn’t thought about the problem it will cause once it does end up in a landfill. I am hoping that I could pass it to my daughter or possibly donate it. On Jim’s point, I LOVE the idea of getting the first book in the series. I use to hate walking into the bookstore, finding a great book…then finding out it is number 3 in the series and the first two books are so hard to find that the prices are raised.

  27. My message is for James R. Fox. and of course Kim too!

    I’m not old by a long shot, but I just had eye surgery, and I think that all the e readers have that bigger font option, which was a complete lifesaver for me, because if I cant read I might as well just replace my eyes with glass ones, as much use as they would be to me. Definately love my nook for that particular reason. And it has been a life saver also because I move alot, and my family refused to help me anymore because most of my boxes were full of heavy books…… Now they have no excuse…. *cackles evilly*


  28. I totally agree with your statement about readers not liking to get rid of books even if they don’t like them. Whenever I buy paper books, they are kept until they fall apart and can’t be fixed. In the cases of books I don’t like or don’t read very often, that could mean forever.

    I enjoy my Astak EZreader, which had the E-ink technology BEFORE Kindle, but I am frustrated by it because the major e-book stores don’t offer a format that can be used on it, only the formats for the major brands.

    I have both the Kindle for the PC and the Kobo/Borders app for the PC and the books are not exchangeable between the apps nor can they be added to my EZreader. I also have the Adobe Reader for the computer with the same problems.

    I would probably buy more e-books if they were ALL in a compatible format, but as it is, the only ones I receive are free and most likely classic books.

    I LOVE to read, especially sci-fi & fantasy, but I’ll read just about anything and everything. I will keep buying paper books no matter what, but sometimes it is nice to be able to sit outside with the wind blowing and the sun shining and not worry about losing your place or the pages flipping around on you while reading an e-reader.

    Keep writing and selling both types and you’ll continue to do well. :~D

  29. Coder Lisa P.

    I have a friend who is homebound and has trouble with her eyesight. She would have to special order large print books from the library, and the selection was very low. With her e-reader, she can enlarge the text and the selection is infinite!

  30. James R. Fox

    Hi Ms. Kim-Its Jim from Warren. I would like to add that Kindle at least least, is a life saver for the chronologically challenged who want to keep on reading,and paper books are not accessable because the print is not adjustable. Its one button on your kindle.E-ink tech is a big help too.*Old age is not for sissies*