and worry about it later

This week there was some interesting discussion about Amazon and e-books. And no, I'm not talking about the Amazon Fire, their new entry into the tablet world, since I don't really care anything about tablets (at least at the moment).

I would direct people to some very good posts over at Stephen Watkins' blog (The Undiscovered Author) about Amazon, and about e-book self-publishing in general. I won't put direct links, since there have been about five or six posts, but they're all recent so they'll be easy to find. Stephen's premise (and his documentation is thorough) is that 1) Amazon will not make you rich as a self-publishing e-book author (unless you're really lucky), and 2) Amazon does not exist to make you rich anyway (well, duh).

I have no strong feelings about Amazon one way or another, mostly because my experiences have run the gamut from sublime to dreadful. To quote one of my comments:

I’ve had a wide variety of experiences with Amazon. On one hand, they gave me probably the best customer service experience I’ve ever had with a large corporation: On the other hand, some of my websites went down for over 48 hours(!) because Amazon is pretending to be a web hosting company: Those are probably the extremes.

I do like the Kindle, though I use it mostly as a writing/editing tool, for which it is very well suited (the majority of the files on my Kindle are things written by me). Also, early 20th century books that are out of copyright are basically free (the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, all the Philo Vance books, Henry James, Ulysses, etc.). And, as I've said before, it is the best way to read the New York Times every morning.

So, I was thinking of doing my new book (in progress now) as an e-book as well as a real book. I even poked around Smashwords a lot, which was rather discouraging, since an e-book has to be in a lot of different formats, and you don't have much ability to tweak formatting. And all the e-books I've read have had unexplained indents, paragraph breaks in the wrong places, and other unsightly mistakes. I'm used to print and web, where you have a lot of control, especially if you understand the tools.

But I was still thinking about it, until one of the articles Stephen linked to (from this post) mentioned that one thing which isn't known is how books will display that aren't all text. You know, books with illustrations.

Well, my mystery stories have illustrations. Maps, floor plans, even a scan of a vital written clue. How would they display on different readers, different tablets, different phones? Well, I don't have to see them on a phone to know how they'll display: they won't, at least not properly, since they're bigger than that little tiny screen. This is an issue for Stephen as well, since he works in the fantasy genre, and fantasy usually has maps.

So, that settles it. Hard copy and web, where I have control, and that's it. No e-books, at least not for this project.

Oh, and it was pleasant that with the various new Kindles announced this week, I had no buyer's remorse for having the one I do have, because none of the newer ones have keyboards, and I get a lot of use out of that little keyboard.

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