Those who know me personally will attest that I enjoy reading Star Wars novels. A couple months ago Amazon.com made the Kindle reader available as a free application for PC. I installed it on my laptop and recently downloaded "Ylesia" a novella available exclusively on ebook. The story continues a thread not quite wrapped up in a paperback Star Wars novel that I quite enjoyed.
The book was super cheap and I am quite enjoying, but I'm finding pros and few cons to reading on the Kindle. On the book's very first page a glaring grammatical error drove me a bit crazy. Editorial oversights is the largest concern I have with digital books. Why? Well, publishers are able to 'skip' several phases of production that, currently, give time for the author and editors to spot and correct mistakes that were overlooked in the first edits. Electronic books eliminate the galley copies that always need approval prior to the final printing.
On the other hand I like the layout of the text, both comfortable to read and easy on the eyes. When I close the Kindle it automatically saves my place. When I open the Kindle book again it opens to the last page I was on, thus eliminating the need to mark my place.
But would I buy a Kindle? Uh, I don't think so. I'd love to have one, but I cannot justify spending $300 on that gadget.
Someone asked me, recently. "Aren't you concerned that digital books will destroy authors' careers?" I answered "No." I'm actually very excited about the digital age of books. If properly marketed a digital book has the potential to reach far more readers than a physical book and in far less time. Let's say an author published a novel digitally. Let's say they had a million orders for their books. Maybe they only make twenty cents off each copy, but that is $200,000 in one shot. Granted, that is a lot of copies, even for a digital sale. But I don't think it is unrealistic, especially for an author who has established their audience.
Now, I do differ with many people in the publishing industry on one important thing: I believe physical books will also remain in demand. I expect to see large print runs of books all but eliminated--but there is a savior for the physical book. That is Print On Demand technology. Many large publishers already utilize POD (not POD Services, but the POD Technology). In all my travels I have found the majority of readers are in love with the physical print. Even if they own a Kindle they still buy a physical copy of the book. For a business trip they bring their Kindle, but for reading by the fire they turn the physical pages of a printed book. Retreats into far-off vacation spots where they don't want to be reminded of technology--there are so many reasons to believe the physical book will survive and thrive alongside the digital version.
Ultimately readers will decide. They created the demand for physical books. If they demand then someone will print. In the mean time I'm enjoying the battle of logic going on in the publishing world. Someway, somehow, the digital reader is going to make prophets out of some of us!