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Distinguished Bibliophile
Posts: 4,032
Registered: ‎01-01-2012

How do ebooks change the *reader's* perception of an author?

[ Edited ]

It's interesting reading the different perspectives presented in this thread. When I read the referenced piece, I focused more on the changes in the reader's/buying public's experience, and less so on the publisher and author's perspective:


  • Would the great authors of previous centuries have gained as much recognition if they were presented and sold the public the way new writers are?
  • All the current big-name ebook readers (B&N, Amazon, Kobo) do focus on pushing new stuff for you to buy, not so much books you want to read. Does that change the dynamic?

I discovered the "death knell" article by following various threads starting with "Do you remember the name of the ebook you have just finished reading?" over on eBookAnoid that includes:


"My problem is not around the details of the story line specifically, but the name of both the author and the ebook itself, both of which I find I always forget by the time I have read about 10 pages or thereabouts.  I am pretty sure that this is caused by the fact that one misses the reinforcing clues of seeing the cover of any paper book you read every time you pick it up and start reading it.  With an ereader, once you are past the title page, you no longer see the title or author’s name ever again while reading the ebook – Thus unless it is a particular favourite book of yours, there goes the title and writer’s name..."


An American Editor has a similar article, with a few thoughts on using running heads and other print book techniques to "brand" and ebook.


I have to admit, while I'm reading more with ebooks than I ever did before, I find myself unable to remember some of the titles of books I've read, even good ones. There is something different about the experience. Not necessarily good or bad, but I can remember reading books 20 years ago in paper quite distinctly, including where I was at the time. I have less of that with ebooks. Surely that affects which authors become "memorable" in some way?


I am somewhat guilty of the "read 'em and forget 'em" lifestyle. I'm using Mantano's cloud service, so all my ebooks -- not just those from one store -- can be stored online. I've got 4-500 various titles up there. When I've read one, I tag it as "read" and archive it. It's still there, but it's not something I drag my finger across as I'm looking for my next read. While I'll remember what I read, I'm not sure I'll be able to remember who wrote it, or what the title was. I certainly can't accidentally run across a title that I fondly remember reading in the same way. That may not be overly important in the long run, but it certainly is different.


Then there's the DRM effect. How many of us discovered a new book or author because a friend loaned us a copy, or there happened to be a title on the shelf when we were stuck somewhere? That simply can't happen with ebooks, at least not DRM-encumbered ebooks. "Picking up" an ebook requires more conscious effort in some ways. You have to find it, acquire it, load it, store it, read it and then archive or delete it. I find it harder to stumble upon a title.


More than anything, I think this points out a niche for a new class of software or other product. We have digital picture frames, maybe we need digital book covers? Could the presentation of ebooks be enhanced in some as-yet unrealized way? Should DRM and "sharing" be rethought completely?



Distinguished Bibliophile
Posts: 2,270
Registered: ‎07-25-2011
0 Kudos

Re: How do ebooks change the *reader's* perception of an author?

I'm always aware of what I'm reading, but that's because I also subscribe to the daily paper.  So every day I read the morning Chicago Tribune and then re-open the current book I'm reading.  I also often have more than one book in progress; just the way I am.  When my new issues of Analog and Asimov's arrive each month, I switch to reading those.


So, possibly unlike others, I'm constantly back on the main library page looking at the author and title, reopening the book.  Maybe this makes my e-reader experience more like a DTB.

Inspired Scribe
Posts: 1,503
Registered: ‎09-28-2011

Re: How do ebooks change the *reader's* perception of an author?

I do think that DRM will hurt publishers and authors more in the long run than it helps (just my opinion). It doesn't stop the torrent sites from operating, and I think Bobstro is right in that it hampers the discovery of new authors through legitimate sharing among friends/family. I feel similarly about the publisher's attitudes regarding libraries as well. Though, I think the 'friction' issue that the publishers want could be handled pretty well with a better website design on the library end.