Saturday, July 16, 2011
EBOOKS AS CHRISTMAS OR BIRTHDAY GIFTS--Your thoughts?
Just making some observations about ebooks and wondering how others think about this.
First, I’m a believer in ebooks. Big-time. I was old-school until about a year ago when I bought a Kindle. Now, I get nearly all my books on Kindle and even pass up buying books that don’t offer an ebook version. It’s changed my reading life. And, I buy way more books now that I don’t have to run to the bookstore or wait for them in the mail. I used to buy an average of four books a week and now I’m buying closer to seven books a week. Truth.
I even bought my wife Mary a Kindle and her reading habits have mirrored mine. We both love our Kindles! And, we’re both buying a lot more books than we ever have and we’ve always bought lots and lots of books. In fact, for over twenty years, as a family we visited a local bookstore every single weekend and we always bought lots of books.
Since we both got our Kindles, we’ve only gone to the bookstore a couple of times. One was solely because the local Borders closed their doors and we went to get in on the close-out sales. But, our tradition of going every single week is over.
And, I’ve got my next five novels coming out as ebooks. So, I’m solidly in the ebooks corner.
However, I was thinking about a weakness in the ebook market and wondered what others thought about this.
The weak spot in the ebook market I see is the Christmas and birthday or other gift market. It’s much more attractive to send a physical book to the person you’re gifting, plain and simple. It just feels like you’re giving a bona fide gift when you can wrap it up and put a bow on it. Giving an ebook just doesn’t give me that kind of satisfaction. Plus, it’s really hard to send an ebook to a child in particular, because most of the kids in my family just don’t have Kindles or Nooks.
I’m sure that will change somewhat over the coming years, but I don’t think there’s going to be a mass exodus for parents to buy their kids their own Kindles. At least not in my family. I suspect that will be the case in the majority of other families as well. I’m aware that there are people with more disposable income than I enjoy and that there are those who were buying their kids cell phones years before the parents in my circle did, and those folks will perhaps purchase Kindles for their kids, but I suspect that’s not going to be a sizable market, at least for awhile. At least not on my block. As one kid answered his father the other day when he asked the little guy if he thought money grew on trees, retorting, "Not in our back yard."
I have no way of knowing this and am basing my assessment solely on my own experience, but I also think I’m probably typical. I suspect that last Christmas season, physical books sold far more than ebooks and I also suspect that will remain the case this year and for at least the foreseeable future. When I send my grandson Logan a book as a gift (which is my usual choice of gifts for him), I can’t even consider an ebook. It has to be a physical book. One, I want him to have the experience of opening up a present. That still trumps—experience-wise—clicking on an on-switch, even if he had a Kindle, which he doesn’t. That’s just an aesthetic that I don’t see Kindle overcoming, at least for now. In the future, perhaps.
What about you folks? Do you buy books for gifts and if you do, do you buy ebooks or physical books? Myself, even though I could send a gift certificate for an ebook, I probably won’t. At least for the kids I send presents to. I want to at least visualize them ripping open a brightly-colored package and getting their little sweaty mitts on a real object. Not a piece of paper that has the emotional value of getting a Burger Doodle Gift Certificate. I just can’t see them waving a slip of paper in the air, jumping up and down, and screaming, “Look what Grandpa sent me!” I can see that with a book…
Also, in years past, whenever I did a booksigning, there were lots of folks who bought more than one copy of the book I was signing and asked me to sign the extra copies for their friends or relatives. Not going to happen with ebooks. The vast majority of ebook buyers buy one copy. Which really makes the sales pitch I've always made at those signings to "Buy 10 copies! Christmas is just around the corner!" pretty much invalid. I'd often say that in signings held in January. And, it worked. No mas... Actually, not as many signings either... I'll miss that!
I’m all for ebooks, but I see this as a market I think they’ll find difficult to make a lot of headway in, at least for now.