Monday, April 05, 2010

technophile or technophobe?

The iPad was released on Saturday. And no, I didn't buy one, but yes, I was tempted. Although I do like new technology, I don't tend to be a super early adopter. I figure I'll wait until the second generation version, after some of the kinks (if any) are worked out, and once the price comes down a bit.

But I'm excited (and also terrified) to see how the iPad will affect the publishing industry, and I think it will, just as the Kindle has affected the industry. I definitely see lots of opportunities, especially for four-color books (picture books!). If you haven't seen it yet, here's a demo that Penguin unveiled last month. (The quality/sound of the video isn't that great, but it's still worth a watch to see what could be the future of books.)



Here's a more recent video that shows us how it currently looks to read books on the iPad. I gotta say, I love the page turning--you can actually see what's on the back of the pages as you turn!):


(both videos via Galleycat)

And another evaluation, from Publishing Perspectives:



The one thing I'm really curious about is how easy it will be to edit on the iPad. I've started to transition over to editing completely electronically. (A recent poll in our editorial meeting showed that a huge majority of editors are already editing electronically.) For a while I was editing on paper, and then transferring my comments into Track Changes in Word and emailing to my authors. But it's starting to feel really...well, wrong to print novels out any more. And so the shift. But before the shift I had worried about two things:
1) I thought I would tend to not read as carefully on screen, but I've found that I've been reading more carefully.
2) I also worried about eye strain. This has proven to be a bit of an issue--when I'm in a zone, I don't want to stop editing, and afterward my eyes hurt and I have a bit of a headache. But according to this article in the NY Times, I should just make sure to rest my eyes every 20 minutes to prevent eye strain.

I like editing on screen okay, but I really would prefer to have something I could lay on the table. If editing is natural on the iPad, this just may be as life-changing a piece of technology as the eReader. I'm excited to experiment.


I thought I'd take a poll on technology. Here are my five questions:

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?
2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?
3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically (for example, via Track Changes in Word)? If you're a publisher, do you edit electronically?
4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically? If you work for a publisher, do the copyeditors work electronically?
5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17. What if the hardcover is $25?

Thanks for participating! A week from today, I'll do a random drawing, and send one commenter a Little, Brown books of his/her choice.

28 comments:

stacy said...

I haven't purchased an iPad, but I'm considering it for exactly the reasons you are. I don't have an e-reader at all, and it feels wrong to print out a manuscript (and, working for a small publisher, I worry more about the cost of printing a manuscript than I once did at a bigger publisher).

I've always done my developmental edits on paper, then did the line edit and everything after that in Track Changes. But for the last couple of weeks, I've been experimenting with editing everything, from developmental on, on-screen. It's working, mostly, but I worry that I'm forgetting things from the beginning more easily because it's harder to just flip back to the beginning and find "that page" I said something else on 100 pages ago--the motor memory of it is not there.

That's questions 1-3. For 4, the copyeditors I work with, and the copyediting I did when I was freelance, were all done in Track Changes (unless I was working on a typeset book, which was rare--that usually happens more at the proofreading stage).

5. It's hard to say. I'm still working that out myself. When hardcover is $17 (and it isn't always--it can go up to $19.99), then e-book price might be three or four dollars less than that. Perhaps even more when the book is brand-new.

But I don't know that I'd *buy* an e-book for close to hardcover price unless it came with extra bells and whistles, or if I really, really wanted an e-version of something I wasn't going to buy in print. But again, I don't have an e-reader, so it's all theory to me at this point. The cheaper the better, but I'm also mostly looking at e-readers as a way to read slush/edit, and then perhaps as an easy way to travel. I like buying books, but I don't have nearly the space in my NYC apartment as I've had elsewhere, so perhaps I'll transition to e-books and my mindset will change.

Laura Renegar said...

I have not purchased an iPad, but would consider it after the prices drop. I still love the feel, smell, and comfort of traditional books more though.

As for the second question, both. I usually print out a copy of my ms, but make the changes electronically as I go.

I don't think I'd pay more than $15for an electronic book. I would expect it to be a nice discount off the hardcover price.

Lisa Schroeder said...

1) No plans to get an iPad anytime soon.

3) Still the old-fashioned way- they send me the marked up manuscript via UPS.

4) Copy-editing is also the old-fashioned way

5) This is so hard! I think there has to be some kind of discount. I don't have an e-reader, so it's hypothetical for me at this point, but I think for a $17.00 book, maybe $13.00?

C.J. Redwine said...

1) No plans, though I bet my hubby wants one for Christmas.

2) Electronically.

3) N/A

4) N/A

5) Not sure. I'm willing to pay more to own a hardcover for books or series I adore, but that's because I want to have the shiny hardcover on my shelves. I wouldn't necessarily pay the same amount for an e-version. However, I don't read e-books, so I'm probably not the best person to ask. :)

alwayserin said...

1) I had to make myself read all the reviews and convince myself not to go buy the iPad right away; like you, I don't tend to be an early adopter, but it was hard for the logic to override the impulse this time!

2) I do all my reading electronically, longer pieces on my Sony Reader, picture books, pieces of novels, and revisions with tracked changes on my laptop. I send all edits to my clients electronically. Things I read on the Reader--argh. You can't take notes on it. (As you can't on the iPad.) So I have a notepad about the same size as the Reader, which I carry around with it, and jot things to remind myself of thoughts, and then input the notes electronically on the laptop. Very cumbersome.

3 & 4) N/A.

5) So far, as much as I love my Reader, I'm finding I prefer hard copy books to reading electronically when it comes to pleasure reading. I think because I associate the Reader with work, maybe? And because even as recently as late last year, purchased ebooks had some formatting issues that made the reading experience less than invisible. I like the Reader for travel, but now that they've extended the time at beginnings and ends of flights when you can't use electronic devices, I end up taking a paper book with me for those times, getting sucked into it, and never turning on the Reader, at least during the flight. All that said, when I am getting ready for a trip and want pure pleasure reading, I know what books I want and don't think so much about the price, although if I've got a fairly large list of possibilities, I'll go with the less expensive ones.

One other thing: As I get older, my eyes get tired more easily, and the Sony Reader really helps give me relief from time staring at the backlit laptop screen. The iPad is also backlit, so wouldn't give the same kind of relief. In the end, the iPad would, for me, be less about being an eReader and more about lightweight convenient email and web surfing for travel. I'm more likely to replace my Sony with a newer version that allows note-taking than switch to reading books and manuscripts on the iPad.

alwayserin said...

One other thing: I find that when I read manuscripts on the laptop and mark them up as I go, the quality of comments is often lower than when I read on the Reader and take more general notes that I then have to distill into thoughtful comments compiled in an email or letter. Granted, this is not the same as editing a manuscript, as you do, but I have found myself wondering more than once in the last couple of years if electronic editing hasn't eliminated the more general-comments stage of editing for some editors, with poor results, both in terms of the way the novel turns out and in terms of the way the author receives the comments.

Michelle said...

1) I'm very slow to adopt new technology. I still use my phone to, you know, call. But I saw my friend's iPad and it looks cool. I'm just not sure what I'd use it for that I can't do with my laptop.
2) I edit electronically.
3) I receive edits from my editor electronically. I like the track changes feature much better than paper comments. It saves on printing, it shows my changes, and there's no need to go to the post office (a place I hate).
4) I"m not at this point yet. I'm guessing it's electronic?
5) No idea.

Mio Debnam said...

1. Not yet, but considering it... I have a fairly new Kindle on which I read all the submissions I get sent as an editor (no more carrying around tons of paper - fab). For holiday reading I downloaded a couple of novels but I prefer to read non fiction on it, and fiction on paper - not sure why!
2. I edit all my own writing and the ms I edit for my job on screen.
3. Yes. My editor sends me changes electronically via Track Changes (that's how I send my changes to my authors too).
4. Yes, the copy-edited text comes back to me electronically - but for the proofing round, I often print out and read in hard copy (the only hard copy usually - which I stick post it notes to!)
5. Hard question... If it's a book that I really want to read and have heard it is excellent, I would prefer to buy a hardback (which I often do, the instant it comes out due to sheer impatience!) so that I can share it with my family members, as I am the only one with an e-reader. If the e-book were to be published at a deep discount I would possibly buy the e version as soon as I could, and if it turned out to be as good as expected, would get the paperback later to share. I'd probably end up spending a similar amount to buying the hardback in any case! I live in HK and I end up paying US$2 more per e-book in any case, so it would have to be considerably discounted to tempt me, as I wouldn't pay more (or very similar) for an e-book as for a hardback, as the experience of seeing the cover, seeing nice fonts and layouts etc, and being able to read it in the bath (!) is missing from the Kindle - though perhaps the iPad will help with the first two grumbles.

kelcrocker said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?

Have not bought one. I wanted a Kindle, but just couldn't justify the price right now. Am a lifelong MacGirl, but still wondering what the fuss is about the iPad. (*sacrilege!*) I would want it mostly as an e-reader...have my computer for the other stuff, right? Still, I appreciate you posting those videos. Very exciting, especially the picture books!

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?

I do all of my college comp editing/grading electronically. However, for my crit group and self-editing, I still print out. (I know what you mean about feeling bad/weird about printing out novels. I use both sides of the paper!)

3. N/A

4. Not a published author (yet!), but I would be very comfortable receiving electronic edits. (This is how my magazine editors work.)

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17. What if the hardcover is $25?

It's interesting that you use the word "fair." I'm wondering, fair to whom? You're probably thinking of the consumer, the reader. As a lifelong reader, I want to be able to afford books, and e-books would certainly cost less in terms of production and distribution. (So that makes me wonder, whether the hard cover is $17 or $25, should it make a difference for the price of the e-book version?)

But, as a former newspaper reporter who is watching that industry die--in part because they give away valuable content for free--and as a (hopefully) one day published ya author, I want to be able to make a "fair" living from e-books. Honestly, I just don't know. (Sorry to write so much to get to that!)

Thanks for your interesting post!

Best,
Kellye
kelcrocker on Twitter

Alex said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?

No on both counts.

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?

Electronically :)

3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically (for example, via Track Changes in Word)? If you're a publisher, do you edit electronically?

N/A

4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically? If you work for a publisher, do the copyeditors work electronically?

My agent asked for my ms electronically, if that helps.

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17. What if the hardcover is $25?

I think the price for something that is electronic should be considerably less than the physical product, as surely there are fewer production costs, for paper etc? Maybe two thirds of the price?

Hope I was a tiny bit helpful :)

Annemarie O'Brien said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?

I have not purchased one, but I am thinking about it. I read a lot of books and this could be useful.

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?

Definitely electronically.

3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically (for example, via Track Changes in Word)? If you're a publisher, do you edit electronically?

Nt yet, published. But I get VCFA comments electronically and only picked advisors who gave electronic comments. I also encourage electronic comments in my critique groups and writing classes that I teach.


4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically? If you work for a publisher, do the copyeditors work electronically?

NA


5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17.

$10

What if the hardcover is $25?

$15

saramoohead said...

1) Like you, I intend to purchasde an iPad once they work out a few issues (I need USB ports and to be able to charge the thing while I'm typing!)
2) Electronically only now.
3) Yup, I edit electronically. (And will be a published author come next Spring and will receive edits electronically only.)
4) In my unique position between the author and the publisher, yes, we receive copyedits either ni track changes electronically or as a page by page list (for the short books). We barely get any printed pages from publishers. (Even page proofs are scanned and sent electronically.)
5) SUCH a tough question. I admit that I'm keep on the Amazon $10 ($9.99). I know there are a lot of issues surrounding that but as a customer, I don't want to pay more than $10. I'd buy lots more books if they were only $10. I barely ever buy in hardcover (and I'm a harcore book lover) because they are so expensive. I would never pay $27 for an e-book, ever.

Mitali Perkins said...

Yes, we use track changes, and yes, I get the manuscript electronically. Haven't used snail mail for the editing process in a while.

K. said...

1. Ipad purchase - I'll wait for next generation and see how the whole field begins to play out. Readers seem to be in Pong stage right now and I'll wait for at least Nintendo 64.

2. Editing electronically now.

3-4. When I was publishing and editing a magazine, we still did both paper and digital edits. I found for long essays, I saw more on paper away from the screen. Now I think it would be mostly digital.

My back and forth with publishers and writers is all digital now.

5. Price depends on subject matter and the form of the book. I will spend more on an illustrated book or a graphic novel, something where the book is an art object but I wouldn't expect to pay that to get it in e-form. I probably won't spend a lot on trendy books - the non-fiction book of the moment - as the subject matter is often time-dated.

I'm more likely to buy a book if it is under $15 and very likely to buy it if it is under $10.

Vicki said...

1) No plans to buy an iPad! I am about a decade behind in my technology purchases.

2) I write picture books, so I think it's a little different than authors of longer works. I suppose I edit my own work traditionally (pen on paper) during the early stages, electronically (InDesign document) in later stages.

3) electronically, in the sense that I get emailed notes from my editor. I send my dummies in pdf form, so there's no Word document to modify.

4) same as above

5) I actually have no problem paying the same amount as the hardcover price! When I buy books I always feel as though I'm paying for the content, not the physical object. Authors, illustrators, editors and designers will work just as hard to put together an ebook as a traditional book...

Meghan said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?

No and not anytime soon

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?

mostly on my laptop

3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically (for example, via Track Changes in Word)? If you're a publisher, do you edit electronically?

Yes

4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically? If you work for a publisher, do the copyeditors work electronically?


Yes

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17. What if the hardcover is $25?

For electronic things, I don't want to pay much because I don't have the thing to physically hold. I wouldn't want to pay more than 10 dollars for anything electronic. Really, I'd only be willing to pay 7.

rebecca said...

1) I would take an iPad if offered and probably would buy one if money were no object, however I stink at upkeep on my iPod. I'm not sure how much I'd use it considering my habits.

2) I edit electronically.

3) I haven't been a working writer in the way you mean for over 10 years. I never saw edits of any sort -- just the final copy (newspaper stories, magazine articles, and PR). My graduate thesis received only oral edits, though I presume those would have come via paper because I turned in hard copies. My husband receives paper edits for his graduate work. Does that mean the publishing industry embraces tech more than academia?

4) When I wasn't a copy editor but an assistant, I edited on paper. The editor also returned manuscripts to me with the edits on paper. Now, it's just as easy to do it electronically without ever returning the manuscripts, which only come in electronic form. (Academic journals)

5) I don't know what a fair price would be -- the cost of a hardcover minus the paper, printing, and distribution?

stacy said...

Whether or not a book is in digital or print, you have to pay for distribution. It's electronic vs. shipping/inventory, but it's still a cost.

Joanne Levy said...

1) I have no plans to buy an ipad. I have a Kindle for my pleasure reading and I love it.
2) I edit electronically, but on most mss, I do print out at least one copy (4 pages to a single sheet, front and back!) to do a final hard copy read-through.
3) I am not published yet, but my agent and I do only electronic edits back and forth through track changes and this works very well. I much prefer this process to hard copy not just because of ease of use, but it also cuts down on hard to read scribbled notes (mine - I have terrible handwriting).

4) n/a
5) I would be happy to pay trade paperback price for an e-book. If it was the same price as the hardcover, and I REALLY wanted the book, I would buy the hardcover so I could lend to friends and feel like I could justify paying that much. Generally, I don't buy hardcovers because I would rather buy more books and prefer trade paperbacks anyway.

Lee Nichols said...

1. I think they're are really cool! I can see purchasing in a year or two. Not a first generation buyer.
2. Edit both electronically and on paper. Book always reads differently on paper.
3. Edits from publisher on paper, unless very small like some teaser pages--then Track Changes.
4. Manuscript copyedited on paper.
5. I honestly have no idea, but do think publishers are genuinely working toward a fair price.

Loretta Nyhan said...

1. I probably won't purchase an iPad in the near future. I'm still saving for a laptop!
2. Both. I do catch more grammar and continuity errors when editing on paper.
3. N/A. I am a teacher, though, and I've fallen in love with Track Changes. The students love it as well. I find I make more comments if I don't have to write them out by hand.
4. N/A
5. $10-$12. (I have no real basis for that range; I guess I deducted some money from the hardcover price because I think more should be paid for the physical book.)

The Right Now! Coach said...

1) No.
2) electronically
3) I have received my edits from publishers both ways: electronically and on paper.
4) I'm an author, and yes, I now receive it electronically.
5) I don't know. I cannot imagine paying $25 for something electronic. As much as I love working on the computer for writing and editing, I still want to buy real books and curl up on the sofa with a real book!

Hallie said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?
I'm impressed by the possibilities for media-rich books, but no, I don't; I've never found Apple's products to play very nicely with PCs, and I don't want to be stuck as a first gen model tester. Also, I spend a lot of time on computers as it is and reading a physical book is a break for my eyes (plus I get to avoid evening light pollution, which causes sleep disruption).

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?
I edit electronically 95% of the time, and reserve 5% for the last paper pass over important documents to find the typos that don't show up on the screen.


3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically (for example, via Track Changes in Word)? If you're a publisher, do you edit electronically?
4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically? If you work for a publisher, do the copyeditors work electronically?

None of these apply to me, but if they did, yes, I'd prefer to edit and receive edits electronically.

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17. What if the hardcover is $25?
What kind of book? I'd expect a difference between a new media-heavy textbook and a no-frills novel, for example. Even though I know that it's not much cheaper to produce an e-book, my brain has a hard time wrapping around paying the same price for a digital file and for the tangible paper version I can touch and put on my shelf. I'd expect a $17 book to be around $12-13 digital, but I don't know about the $25 book; I think my willingness to buy would decrease over about $15. I may not be all that helpful because I use coupons and wait for paperback releases unless I really, really want a book.

Joe Monti said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?

Intend to *if* I can make editorial notes on a manuscript by writing on the screen, as you would write on a manuscript page. Otherwise, I think a laptop may be better.

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?

Exclusively electronically now.

3) I believe the above answers it for me. (I'm an agent.)

4) n/a

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book, considering that the hardcover price is $17.
The whole concept that the lack of a physical object reduces the cost of an ebook significantly speaks of the individual's lack of knowledge. I mean this kindly, but until you know just how many people are involved in creating a book, you don't see the cost inherent in the product. So I'd say roughly 25% less seems a fair discount of cost appropriate to the version of an ebook, upon release. I am in favor of the tiered system of costs, like what we have now, where prices go down as the volume increases in sales. But that's just because the present ebook market is minuscule right now. But in ten years, I think the $7 - $13 price range for an ebook, upon release, is doable.

David Sheppard said...

1. Yes, got it the first day it was out.
2. I, and all those I've known who are serious about their editing, do both electronic and paper. They are different processes, and you catch different errors. I've been doing both for 25 yrs.
3. As an author, my editor sends a marked-up hardcopy to me.
4. Also marked-up hardcopy.
5. The electronic version of a book is not nearly as useful for the consumer as a hardcover. Every hardcover book I purchase gets read by at least three people, sometimes as many as ten. As a consumer, that means that an eBook should cost no more than $6 vs $17 hardcover and $8 vs $25 hardcover. The consumer is getting screwed by DRM, and no one in the publishing industry seems to want to talk seriously about what the consumer is giving up. Thank goodness the trees are getting a break. Not that I'm bitter, you understand.

beth said...

I thought of purchasing an iPad, but was disappointed in it's lack of innovaton. And I really want to use a stylus to mark up a manuscript, the perfect combo of electronic and paper editing. So I'm getting an Entourage Edge, as soon as my tax money comes back.

I have trouble editing electronically because I like to just circle simple mistake, or scribble out brief notes--the few seconds it takes for track comments to come up distracts me. It's little, but it's enough. That's why I want the Edge--I want to make notes like it's on paper, without actually wasting paper. And also have the abilty to write big blocks of text if I get an idea for a new scene.

I'm a debut 2011 author. My editor sent me edits electronically, but asked first if it would be OK. (I was fine with it--I actually preferred it as a writer. I like working from his edits electronically, but doing my own edits by hand)

I've not gotten copy edits back yet.

As for fair price:
Ideally, ebooks and hardbacks should be bundled. I think that's the best solution BY FAR. I would buy hardbacks exclusively if I could have them bundled with ebooks.

If hard/ebooks are bundled, I'd be willing to pay $30 or less for the bundle.

If a hardback is $25, I'd pay $15 or less for the ebook--but ONLY IF the hardback is the only other option out there.

It's my STRONG opinion that an ebook should cost a little less than whatever the cheapest paper version out is.

So, if the hardback is $25, but the trade paperback is out for $15, I don't want to pay more than $10 for the ebook. If there's a mass market out for $8, I want to pay $5-$7 for the ebook.

(Unless there's something special attached to the ebook...)

K Achenbach said...

1) Have you purchased or do you intend to purchase the iPad?
Not yet, but, like you, Alvina, and many others, I'll probably get a later model. Truthfully, since I'm something of a magpie and like shiny things, I'd get an iPad just because it's nifty, but the ability to write and edit easily on one is a huge draw.

2) Do you edit electronically or on paper?
Both. For sections that need significant work, I'll usually print and edit; otherwise, it's all onscreen.

3) If you are a published author, do you receive edits from your editor electronically?
Electronically.

4) If you are a published author, do you receive the copyedited manuscript electronically?
Paper copyedit.

5) What do you think is a fair price to pay for a new release electronic book?

Ah, the big question. As a consumer, especially if there are limitations like not being able to share books, I'd like a lower price; as an author, I'd like to make a living. I think %15-%25 less for a new release digital book seems about right, depending on what the difference in production costs are.
What I wonder is if we'll start seeing digital sales methods for books similar to television, movies, and music. I could see programs like 3-for-2 or 5-for-3 deals, "buy 5 get the 6th free," or subscription-based clubs where you pay a certain amount per month either to buy or "rent" a given number of titles. Instead of price differences for hard- vs paperback, perhaps multiple price points will be determined by whether an e-book comes with some bells and whistles (illustrations, animations, etc.--equivalent to a "special edition" DVD). Consumers are used to these models now and it could be the future for publishing, as well.

Julie Hedlund said...

Alvina,
1. I have not purchased an iPad and won't until the price comes down and the functionality goes up. I'm happy with my laptop for now.

2. I do a lot of editing electronically, but eventually I get to the point where I have to print it up and edit the old fashioned way.

3 & 4. N/A (yet!)

5. I'm really not sure. I don't plan to be buying ebooks any time soon, so I may not be the best person to ask. When I buy for people who have e-readers like the Kindle, I just get gift certificates. I do know, from working in electronic payments, that people believe that producing and providing materials electronically reduces the associated costs and therefore expect them to be less expensive.

Hope this helps!