June 8, 2011
eBooks: An Excuse To Sell You Stuff You'd Never Buy In Print?
The other day I bought How To Write Science Fiction by Paul Di Filippo, tempted by the price (69p) and the prospect of another author's view on writing SF.
It's an interesting read, containing thoughts on what maximalist SF is, how to (attempt to) write it and an essay on the creation of Di Filippo's novel Ciphers. There's a few interesting nuggets there for me to think about (plus, now, a need to read some Pynchon). However it's not very long, not really a book and not really about how to write Science Fiction. It's the sort of text I'd expect to be posted to a blog. It's the sort of text that in physical form would be thin and flimsy, and I probably wouldn't ever buy.
You could argue that the beauty of eBooks is that essays like this can be published and sold for less than a pound, or you could argue that it means that it's an opportunity for a few marketing mis-directions. I can't help feeling that being able to skim a physical book at least gives you an idea of the size and the contents. Amazon and Google's preview online functionality don't really provide the same feature, and not all books have the preview feature.
Will this mean that buyers will tread ever more safely when buying books? Perhaps now people will only trust books from the bestseller top ten or those recommended by a high profile book club? It feels to me right now that the lack of physical form may actually hinder more experimental buying once the blush of the new fangled eBooks dies to the norm, the marketing departments have tried to pull a few fast ones and readers have been bitten by buying some dreadful self-published novels?
Or am I being pessimistic?