E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Discussion, background, reviews, and critical analysis of works by Feldgrau.net members who are published authors.
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John P. Moore
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E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by John P. Moore » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:06 pm

I am sure that many of you have noticed all of the new and improved low priced e-book readers such as the Kindle and Nook this holiday season. Plus the large variety of excellent tablet PCs such as the Apple iPad and its worthy imitators from Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, etc. When one looks for a book on Amazon one often encounters a Kindle version, but seldom sees that format in a military title. I have had a color Nook for about a year and was quite satisfied with it as it really lightened my load of travel reference books that I used to carry on every trip to Europe and now I have all the Rick Steves travel books in the Nook that I can carry with me in my camera bag ready for instant reference. A few days ago I purchased a new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 inch tablet with 32 GB of memory. I am very impressed by this new device which lets me easily view two pages of text at the same time and does a superior job of displaying graphics along with the host of other useful things this Wi-Fi enabled device is capable of. The tablet also fits nicely in my camera bag that is always within arm’s reach while in Europe. I think of how useful it would be to be able to pull up battlefield maps or other references when exploring old battlefields. Imagine having a complete set of “After the Battle” magazines and associated books within easy reach while traveling.

Now my question to military Publishers and Authors is why are you not also now publishing a Kindle version of your paper book? (Amazon provides free apps that enable Kindle versions of books to be read in other formats such as iPad, Android, Windows, etc.) For those of you who have not yet published in the Kindle format, do you have plans to do so? If not, why? Have you conducted market surveys? What were the results? Are there concerns about piracy?

I believe that e-books are clearly the future and I don’t see any downside. I suspect that the profit margins for publishers would be about the same as paper books, but without the need to invest in large physical inventories of books and overseas shipping charges. Further, books would never be out of print such as we have seen with “Hell’s Gate” and “Bloody Streets”. I have way too many books in my own library and in the future I plan to avoid buying any more “dead tree” books, unless the book is really superior. For anyone wanting tom express a negative opinion about e-books, please tell us first if you have ever actually viewed an e-book on a good reader. What do the rest of you think about this topic?

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:19 am

I plan to get a Kindle Fire before long, and can better comment after that. However, I do know that Helion have started releasing ebook versions of their titles. Their won't be a reprint of my own co-authored For Rex & For Belgium, but there will be an e-version, probably next year.

My next book, the in-progress Sunwheels & Siegrunen, contracted by Helion, will likely come out simultaneously in printed and electronic formats, though that is just a guess on my part. That reminds me that I need to discuss this with the publisher!

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Jukka Juutinen » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:14 am

For me the e-book is dead at birth. There are many reasons. First, for a bibliophile the idea of storing books in digital format is blasphemy. Two, I have no interest in storing anything for which I have invested over $10000 in a device that can be so easily damaged as electronic storage formats. And so.

John P. Moore
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by John P. Moore » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:44 am

Jukka - You don't seem to be very well informed about ebook technology. All the Kindle and Barnes & Noble titles that my wife and I had purchased for the Nook were available on the "Cloud" and could be easily downloaded again and viewed on our new Samsung Galaxy. You also don't state if you have ever actually viewed a book on an e-reader. Lastly, the price of a good e-reader is a lot less than $10,000. Kindles and Nooks are selling for less than §100 in the USA and my tablet was less than $600. Kindle Fires are selling here for only $199. Amazon really wants to get this technology out in the market place so people will buy their e-books which can sell for less than $10 and be downloaded instantly.

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John P. Moore
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by John P. Moore » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:02 pm

Marc - Thanks for your comments and I am pleased to hear of Helion's plans to publish e-books in the future. I just finished looking through their on-line catalog an don't see any e-books listed yet. You mentioned that your For Rex & For Belgium would likely appear in an e-book version next year and that is good news. My understanding is that publishers create a digital version of their books prior to going to print. Do you know how much more work is required by the publisher to create an e-book version of their digital copy?

John

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Jukka Juutinen » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:11 am

John, perhaps my message was a bit ambiguous. So,

1) By $10,000 I meant the value of my current book collection. If that was stored only in a digital format, all that money would vanish by a simple EMP burst. No thanks.

2) Some of the most important books for me are large format ones with large sized graphics like cutaway and other technical drawings (e.g. ship plans don't work in small size) that need at least an A4 size to be useful. Now, this would mean an e-reader with at least 16" display. And how handy is that? What is more, an A4-sized books easily allow A3-sized illustrations either over double-page spread or a foldout. And A3-sized art requires 20" display. How nice that must be to handle.

Even if a 16" display would do, its power consumption would be far greater than that of a Kindle with their 6" or 7" displays. Which in turn would bring difficulties of their own.

3) If the user experiences of touch-screen phones are of any indication, these screens are very fragile and short-lived unless pampered. Added to this the fact that the life of such screens is less than 10 years. Thus in comparison to books, they are throwaway products and I will never, never support such excess consumption of natural resources that are unrenewable (whereas trees are).

4) I have not handled a dedicated e-reader, but a 7" tablet I have and that was an experience that killed any hope of such devices to be used for reading long texts by me.

5) E-reader display resolution is insufficient for me.

6) E-book production costs do not differ substantially from printed ones, at least ones that feature illustration laid out among the text as the biggest costs items are often editing, acquiring publishing rights, paying the mapmaker etc. That assumes a print run of several hundred copies, but if an English language book does not sell more than 100-200 copies, then it deserves to remain unpublished.

I do fear that these e-books will become nothing more than simple text files dumped on hapless readers in the name of "new technology".

All in all, I see absolutely no redeeming features in e-books for me while the handicaps are too many to describe in full.

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by michalst » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:07 pm

Let me join the discussion. At first I was very sceptical for ebooks, but I load one from a buddy of mine and I ended up buying Amazon Kindle. There are many good things with Kindle, as I see it; the e-ink, ability to have tons of books on it and portability. You can take it with you anywhere, it doesn't weight or have the same dimensions as a book. The e-ink stuff is in my opinion better than the screen you have on tabs, your eyes doesn't get tired that fast when reading. Since I work in front a computer all the day, it makes a difference for me. On the other side, Kindle is lacking colours, so everything is white/black/grey. Maps are also viewed in a not 100% good way. I think they are using too small images, so its hard to see. On the other hand, you can take a screenshot of the map/image and view it in a experimental picture viewer (you can zoom in/out). And Kindle supports PDFs, the viewer is ok, it have the ability to zoom in. Of course, the viewer could be better. I also belive it will be it in the future.

Regarding books, I mailed Helion and they answered that in the next 4-6 months they have plans plans to publish about 30 backlist/out of print books in Kindle. Some of the books that will probably be available will be Glantz "After Stalingrad" and volume 2 "of barbarossa derailed". And I also see that there are more and more books available on Kindle,for instance Stahels "Kiev 1941" will be available for Kindle at the same time as for hardcover, and it will be cheaper.

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by lwd » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:52 am

The availibilty or relativly cheap (~$200) units that have decent or better graphics with color is IMO going to be another big plus for these. I haven't taken the plunge yet but likely soon will.

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:22 pm

I can see where having some of "our" books in e-format could have value. More so if one travels, I guess. The big photo books, or those with lots of maps, diagrams, and other graphics maybe not so much. It'd probably be easier than trying to read things in a pdf format, of which I have a good bit.

Now, entertainment reading, on the other hand....
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Jukka Juutinen » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:24 am

Entertainment reading can indeed be viewed differently. How else can one justify those mass-market paperbacks that fall apart after one reading...

But perhaps it is a good reminder that when the CD standard was originally established, features like sampling rates and dynamics were selected so that superior quality was sacrificed as an inferior quality was sufficient for the entertainment (read pop) music industry...

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Charles Trang » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:08 am

The question of e-books has never been discussed by Heimdal (at least as far as I know). Mr Bernage, Heimdal's owner, is not very concerned by everything that is related to new technologies. He cannot even be joined by email so I suppose this matter will not be a priority for him. E-books have made a very slow start in France where people buy millions of paper books every month. I guess this must be the same in Belgium and in the Netherlands - heart of the "Old Europe" - : when you visit the cities there, you can see that nearly all the houses have librairies which cover entire walls. People read of lot but seem to be attached to the paper version of the books.

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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Jukka Juutinen » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:01 am

Really high respects for mr. Bernage! And for "Old Europe" as well!

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Tom Houlihan » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:37 am

I have just finished reading two e-books on my new Kindle. For just general reading, they're fine. Hell, I have a Worterbuch on there even!

I found out that one book I have was just released in Kindle format. I'm curious, because I've heard different things about the abilities of this machine as far as maps and graphics.

I determined last night, when I realized my Worterbuch has a search function, that my work can go e-format, too! That'll be the next step. I wonder if I should do it with those Forum Hero books?
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John P. Moore
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by John P. Moore » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:29 pm

Tom - Thanks for posting those comments about your experience with the Kindle, I recently read that Amazon had reported selling a million Kindles a week during the Christmas holiday season. I also read this week that the paper version of a book may turn out to be less expensive than an e-book version. I expect they are using the example of buying a used book in excellent condition from Amazon for something like 99 cents and then paying USD 2.98 shipping and handling.

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: E-Book Plans of Authors & Publishers

Post by Tom Houlihan » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:24 am

John P. Moore wrote:Tom - Thanks for posting those comments about your experience with the Kindle, I recently read that Amazon had reported selling a million Kindles a week during the Christmas holiday season. I also read this week that the paper version of a book may turn out to be less expensive than an e-book version. I expect they are using the example of buying a used book in excellent condition from Amazon for something like 99 cents and then paying USD 2.98 shipping and handling.
Actually, John, that's quite possible. I know I replaced several missing or damaged books in my collection (entertainment paperbacks) by buying used books. It was quite inexpensive at the time.

From what I've seen, most of the Kindle books I'm looking to download are coming under cost of a real book. I'm starting to appreciate the ease of carrying around multiple books in one container that would fit in a cargo pocket. Which made me realize these machines would be great for combat officers and NCOs, if they could make 'em "grunt-proof!"

I was looking at one of the software sites yesterday for converting files to e-format. This one was specifically Kindle, though there are others. I know just enough about computers to know that it was confusing as hell to me. Someone like one of us who could figure this process out could keep himself busy with just reformatting books written by Forum members. It's probably not all that difficult once you've done it, but it looked daunting to me!
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