Monday, November 16, 2009

Enter the Nook

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, you've probably heard about the Nook, Barnes & Noble's contender in the biggering ereader wars.
My ebooks are now live on Nook. I was able to do this through Upload your books to Smashwords, and they'll upload them to the Nook (and also Sony.) I'll be tracking my numbers and posting them as the holiday season gets into gear.

For those who have already bought a Nook, or are planning to buy one, you'll be able to find my Nook links on my website, and also right here:

THE LIST by J.A. Konrath - Nook version $1.99

ORIGIN by J.A. Konrath - Nook version $1.99

SUCKERS by J.A. Konrath & Jeff Strand - Nook version $1.59

FLOATERS by J.A. Konrath & Henry Perez - Nook version $1.59

SHOT OF TEQUILA by J.A. Konrath - Nook version $1.99

DISTURB by J.A. Konrath - Nook version $1.99

TRUCK STOP by J.A. Konrath - Nook version $1.59

If you've been following my blog, you know I've made these books available on my website, on, on Kindle, on iTunes, and they'll soon be for sale on Sony.

I have no idea what to expect in the way of Nook sales. I had zero expectations of Kindle, and was surprised how well they've sold. I had moderate expectations for iTunes, but have sold less than 100 books total in the two weeks they've been available.

In the case of iTunes, I've since tweaked the product descriptions to make them easier to find, and so browsers have a better idea of what they were buying. I'm watching to see if those numbers grow.

In the case of Nook, B&N hasn't even put up the product descriptions yet, so I did that myself as user reviews--which is something I'd also done with Kindle when I first uploaded the titles.

While tweaking the descriptions this morning, I had a few interesting thoughts.

1. The process of uploading ebooks, no matter where they are uploaded to, is time-consuming, laborious, and inefficient. But it still can be done in a matter of hours or days, whereas in the print world it takes months to publish a book.

2. Prices of ereaders are going down, while features are getting better.

3. I still don't have any clear answers why agents aren't getting their clients' blacklists and unsold books on these various ereaders. Shouldn't they be innovating?

4. Etailers still haven't courted any major writers for exclusive deals. Considering Amazon, Sony, and now B&N lose money for each ebook sold, it would make sense for them to directly approach some authors and perhaps actually turn a profit selling ebooks. Are they afraid of publishers? Why would they be, when the publishers are screwing them by charging hardcover prices for a bunch of ones and zeroes which cost nothing to copy or distribute?

5. Ebooks are being talked about more and more, and many sources predict they're going to be a hot holiday item.

6. There are still haters.

Let's talk about #6 for a moment. While I grew up reading print books, and have thousands of them, and love them dearly, and have many fond memories associated with print, I'm getting bored with the knee-jerk "print is the only way a story can be read" reactions I always seem to see whenever ebooks are discussed.

People love the feel and smell of books. They love owning the physical object. That's fine. I do too.

But it's the stories that I really love. The paper, or the ereader, is only the delivery system for the story.

And the ereader is simply better than print in every way, except when it comes to nostalgia.

This reminds me a lot of the early 90s, when many folks were hesitant to buy computers because they simply didn't see the advantages of owning one.

Yes, tech is scary. Yes, the old ways are comfortable. Yes, owning a physical object like a book satisfies some primeval hunter/gatherer gene.

But the story isn't on the paper, or on the ereader screen. The story is in your head. It will be in your head no matter what you read it on.

Why are some folks so resistant to a technology that will make books cheaper, easier to read, easier to buy, more accessible, and at the same time save 40 million trees per year and save a great deal of space around the house?

What exactly are the haters objecting so strongly to, other than disliking change?

That said, who here is interested in buying a Nook? Why or why not?


JA Konrath said...

Also, I have to give credit to B&N for making a simple (though obvious) case for ebooks in this short video:

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe;
I just uploaded my first eBook to the Kindle store TODAY. It was a crazy feeling, pressing that *upload* button.

It's a non-fiction book, and the paperback is $18.95 and the Kindle edition is $3.99.

It's an experiment-- we'll see how it goes!

I know that there are haters. Some people are going to really lose big in the e-book revolution. Offset printers and traditional distributors, to name a few. I think that literary agents and publishers are going to survive, but the landscape is going to change.

Authors are really scared, especially the ones that aren't really technologically savvy. Well, I guess it's too bad for them.

Telegraph operators were probably really pissed off about the telephone, too. But you can’t stop technology. Unless you’re Keanu Reeves.

Keanu could STOP this whole ebook revolution and save all those brick and mortar stores if he just came out and sacrificed himself to stop the nanites by going to the giant black sphere in Central Park and touching it.

Sorry... I couldn't resist.

That movie sucked.

Donnie Light said...

I've also uploaded and set up my book on the Kindle store. I was surprised that I had made sales by the time I found the sales report and checked it!
I'm an early adopter of new technology, and I can remember when writing on word processors was still rather controversial. The e-book revolution has started, and I love it. I prefer to read ebooks and hope others will find their way and leave their phobias behind.

Karen from Mentor said...

You know what I just realized?

I have a problem with library books sometimes because they have been at home with someone with cats.[giant sneezefest with your fiction anyone?] And sometimes paperbacks REEK of the ink they were printed with. E books won't have that.


ClothDragon said...

I'm not a hater, I'm a worrier. I worry that as the ebook gets more popular, less and less will be available in print. (Not unreasonable, right?)

Then literacy costs $200 to start. As a poor child we owned no books because even $4 was too expensive a splurge, but I had the library and I read everything I could get my hands on. The nook has lending, but I have a suspicion that it still requires a nook for the other party. So in essence, my worry is the digital divide that's been discussed for ten years already.

I'm no longer really poor. I'd be considered rich where I grew up, but I still don't have an ereader because the startup cost is still too high for me. I don't suggest that technology stagnate as we keep everything a level the poorest of us could buy -- but I think it needs to be considered if there's any chance we'll eventually price people out of reading.

Jon Trout said...

I think the best way is to get an ereader and try it out.Make the shift gradually, try old media versus new media, rading books side by side in both formats.Paper books aren't going away but I'd love to have my library available electronically. Who wouldn't!

Anonymous said...

Regarding your #4 it sounds as if Amazon has promised not to do that (at least for the time being)

minervaK said...

J.A. -- I can only speak for myself, but I don't like devices that 'control themselves,' i.e., display ads or do other things while I'm trying to read a book. I understand that printing books the old way is time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately much more of an obstruction for writers who want to be published, but as a reader, I greatly prefer the printed book. However, I'm old, and will croak shortly, leaving the world free to become completely paperless... MK

Betsy Ashton said...

I believe that as writers we need to embrace any technology that our readers choose. If readers/ listeners want podcasts to listen to on subway commutes, I'll have my stories recorded. If they want them as ebooks, so be it. And if I can find a commercial publisher willing to take a good midlist writer, I'll be more than happy to see my name on a book's spine. Most of all, I WANT TO BE READ.

ShellyS said...

I love my new Kindle. I'm reading my first book on it, a memoir. I find it very nice for non-fiction, but doubt I'll read fiction on it. There are still ways paper books are better. I'll read them at the gym. I can drop them without fear of breaking them. I can flip back through pages more easily to find a section I want to reread. I don't worry as much about losing print books as I do my Kindle.

But I love how I can adjust the font on the Kindle and how lightweight it is. The screen is nicer/better than I'd expected.

So, I'm in both camps on this. The more reading options, the better.

Gordon Jerome said...

I own a Kindle and will not read a book anymore unless I'm forced to by having no other choice. I consider books barbaric.

In 2010, my book will become available on Kindle and through Smashwords. I also intend to start an independent publishing company soley for e-publications in the niche of literary Gothic. Maybe I'll be the one to discover the next Mary Shelley or Emily Bronte.

I find you're pioneering endeavors in e-publishing very inspiring, Joe. Thank you for your efforts.

Professor Beej said...

I'm actually going with the Kindle over the Nook for the same reason that I went with the iPod/iPhone over the Zone or the Droid.

It's saturated the market already, has fantastic customer support, and should at least be the industry standard because it all but started the industry.

Sure there will be features on other devices that I want, but that's the case with anything. I like the safety and security of the standard rather than than the newfangledness of an up-and-comer.

Which do you prefer, as an author?

Maria said...


You don't have to buy a reader. Kindle for PC is free as is the Nook for PC (available now, I've already downloaded it.) THere's also stanza for PC and other devices and mobipocket reader.

If you have a PC, you can get a reader--and they make reading on the laptop a whole dimension above ye ole PDF.

I have 3 books out on Kindle now (Executive Lunch just came out last week.) Two of my books are on B&N.

I'm all for multiple formats--print and ebooks. Both work for me!


Maria said...

And Joe--thanks for the update on the iTunes. Very helpful.

Spy Scribbler said...

Wasn't Stephen King's Ur bought by Amazon, exclusively for the Kindle? It was clever. There was a chapter of too much product placement, but the rest was fabulous.

Rusty James said...

I've apparently bin living under a rock because I've never heard of the NOOK.

No wait. That's not a rock, it's CANADA!

I like this part of your 'arguement':

"But the story isn't on the paper, or on the ereader screen. The story is in your head. It will be in your head no matter what you read it on."

And the price. I've spent thousands of dollars over the years on bin books, impulse Amazon purchases, and new books and read about fifty pages of said book before retiring it to my shelves. With ebooks, I'd be tempted to buy more with less and possibly go outside my genre comfort zone and explore other authors.

I'm in your corner Joe. Good work.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the iSlate. (Curse you Apple! What's taking so long?!?)

This device won't be the uni-tasker that the nook and Kindle are.

Of course, monkeys may fly in the time it takes for the iSlate to hit stores.

Usagikitti said...

I so want to get the Nook for Christmas. I am a total techno geek and love gadgets. But I also love my print books - nothing is better in the bathroom. So I figure when I can scrape enough money for the Nook I will certainly get it because my addiction is electronics but I will also have my paper books for those cold days when you have your tea and warm blankey.

JoePike said...

I honestly get most of the books I read from the library. I just don't have any interest in owning new books since I never read a book more than once and currently don't have the storage space.

But I can see the advantages of getting an e-reader like The Nook or Kindle...I'd be willing to spend a buck or two on a new title downloaded immediately to my e-reader. I really think that's the future, with low pricing supported by ads as you have suggested in previous articles.

Mary Stella said...

I'm one of those people who has been steadfastly resistant to reading books electronically. I've had it in my head that I spend enough time every day looking at a computer for the day job and then while writing at night.

I'm starting to come around. Several friends have Kindles and they (the Kindles, not the friends) look very portable and convenient.

That's not the real reason, however.

I read so much and buy so many books that I am overloading my house. My bookshelves are doublestacked. I recently donated a very large Rubbermaid tub of books to a yard sale and the library. I still have enough stacks of books to pack into several boxes... not counting the dozen or more that my puppy destroyed in her teething stage.

Several favorite authors who were always auto-buys for me have also moved up to hardcover from massmarket. Now, keeping up with their books costs me twice as much. That's a lot of money to feed my habit. I don't want to get to the point where I have to choose between two favorite authors because of budget.

The Kindle appears to address both these concerns -- storage space and economics. I haven't quite gone over to the e-side, but I'm veering in that direction.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is just nostalgia. Printed books don't run out of power or simply malfunction. Okay, books get wet and fall apart but I'm better water doesn't help the ebook either. They don't make text disappear because of a glitch. They also don't reflect as much sunlight into your eyes while reading outside. They are flexible to a point and can be a little bent to fit into your bag. All of these are advantages of print. That said, I'm all for ebooks, just so long as nobody says we should stop printing them as well. I'm very much into my technology but I find it comforting to shut everything down and just lounge with a good book.

Theresa said...

I think that initially there will be those who insist on having a hard copy book to read, fortunately with the Pay On Demand (POD), those who want a "Book" will be able to purchase that book, and as more and more authors and publishers use e-publishing, the cost of POD will come down. And, as more E-Reader become available, the price will come down as happens with all new electronics.

DCS said...

I'm going to check out Nook at the end of the month at B&N but I'm leaning toward the Sony because I don't need wireless downloading and the screen quality of the Sony is peerless. Oh yeah, I didn't like what Amazon did to 1984 at all. When I buy an ebook, it's mine.

Carl said...

I have a nook coming December 11. I've been reading e-books for years, first on PDA's and later on Smartphones. I still love print, but agree with you that e-books are much superior. Remember the original iPod ads? Was it 5,000 songs in your pocket? That's how e-books are. A library in my pocket. I really like that the nook will sync with my BlackBerry and desktop too, so I can read on multiple devices.

T. M. Hunter said...

Based on Nathan Bransford's latest post, I'm thinking more people are getting on the "e-book is the future" bandwagon.

Barb said...

I have one of my books on Kindle and on Smashwords. (Mark Coker is very nice and helpful, full of actual ideas.) I also have a house full of books which is a hassle when you move. An ereader would be excellent help for research and nonfiction. I can see that in my future. I'm not able to envision getting all snuggly in bed with a glowing hard piece of plastic device just having spent most of the day at the computer.

Me said...

I've already ordered my Nook and am anxiously awaiting its' arrival. I've already purchased over a dozen eBooks in anticipation of my new reading device. I look forward to the enjoyment I derive from reading without supporting the destruction of trees while I do it.

Aimlesswriter said...

I don't sony or nook. It's just one more piece of electronics for me to break. I have enough trouble keeping my phone and GPS alive. Besides when I fall asleep with a book it doesn't break when it falls on the floor. I can toss one in my car or purse and not worry I'm going to scratch the screen. Unless these things bounce, they're not for me.
That said I'm sure there are peeps who love these things and they'll do great.

Stacey Cochran said...

Don't know if you've been following this Harlequin Horizons controversy. I've gotten a boatload of traffic on my blog as a result of taking a position opposite that of MWA, RWA, and SFWA.

Would love to hear your perspective.

Keishon said...

I won't be buying another ereader, I own a Sony and plus I read on my iPhone at night. I'm not advocating (and I'm not assuming anyone else is either) ebooks to replace print books, I just want the option to read an ebook if I want that format. That's all. I don't get the resistance but eventually, the consumer will win (ha).

ruzkin said...

I have nothing against e-readers, and I believe people when they say that reading on a Kindle is a better experience than traditional print... but GOD, I love the feel of walking through a library. I love the feel of running my fingers along the spines of paperbacks. I love the feel of pulling a book free, taking in the cover, flipping through a few pages and slotting it back into place. I love the coloured spines, and how they all interact. I love the satisfaction of putting in a bookmark and setting the book down beside the bed at night.
All these things vanish when we go digital, just like how we've lost the clunky satisfaction of yanking a finished page from the typewriter and knowing you've completed another little milestone in your novel. Ease of use at the expense of tactility and romance.

Dawson Vosburg said...

This is an excellent opportunity and yet another reason for me to join in on the Smashwords revolution. Thanks, Joe--you'll see Double Life on the Nook store soon.


Anonymous said...

I have resisted buying an e reader, but I have ordered a Nook for the following reasons:

1) I like the idea of wireless downloads. That is what kept me from buying a Sony.

2) When I buy the book, I own it, and can share it with any other Nook user.

3) B&N is a bricks & mortar, as well as internet, seller. I LOVE BOOKSTORES. I opt for independents whenever they're available, but B&N has many stores and I like the idea of "browsing" any book in the store with the Nook.

4) I will still buy print copies of special books, but the room I have for them is limited and I need to be selective of what takes up that real estate.


6) The initial price is quite a bit, but I will save the amount of the device in under two years by savings on the individual books.

and lastly....

7) There is an environmental impact to printing and shipping paper books. I know electronics have an impact, too, but by using a solar charger, and making sure the device is recycled properly, I feel the impact will be less than that of all of the paper books I would have bought.

Robbie in Tokyo said...

Thanks for this update. I had read your post on the Kindle and was looking out for news on the Nook. Good luck. I hope to get some of my writing up on the machines soon.

- robbie

mikeFOOK said...

After reading all the comments I forgot what the post was about and had to check. Not joking.

The comments on this blog are so full of information that I have to read every one.

I was at Amazon and looking at some ebooks. I almost bought one when I saw the dreaded message about not being able to purchase the ebook from Asia. I've lived in Thailand the last 5 years.

It's things like this that still bite about ebooks, and hopefully the rights will all get sorted out and the couple billion people in Asia will be able to buy Kindle books at Amazon some day.

I just saw the spec sheet for the reasonably priced Nook and I'm so glad they came out with it. Why? Because now if Apple comes out with an ipad or islate - it should have more features than the Nook.

The Nook has got some great features - so, we'll see how it goes. If the Apple reader is awesome... and makes the Nook sweat, I think adoption of the ebook model will speed right along. I'd drink to that.

Anyone visiting southern Thailand anytime soon and want to pow-wow - just give me a write at gmail.

TR Nowry said...

I don't see a digital divide. A Nook may be high today at $200, but I bought an Ebook reader last week for $25 that plays MP3s and videos.

Within a decade, at most, Ebook reader 'apps' will be included in almost every digital device with a screen.

The Nook, Kindle, and Sony screens are amazing and expensive, but so were Plasma TVs, and they drop every year.

Their fancy screens will drop too.

And I love Smashwords and Kindle for their openness to all authors. Democracy at its finest.

Robbie in Tokyo said...

Very exciting times for authors and the publishing world.

Japanese television had a segment on the news this morning discussing the convention in Las Vegas and the attention ereaders are making/getting in the west.

Fun stuff.

The Japanese, not only with the highest literacy rate in the world, but a very long tradition of paper publishing, are also not known to be slow to adapt to new technologies.

After all, they've had ereading devices since the 90s.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. I hope your sales increase on each of the platforms.