Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ Planning To Live by Heather Wardell

 Why Are E-Books Better Than Paper Books?

My oldest confirmed ebook purchase is back in March 2000, although I think I'd bought a few even earlier, and I've done nearly all my reading electronically since. Releasing my books as ebooks was an easy decision for me since electronic reading is so much a part of my life, and I'm also convinced that ebooks will get more and more popular over the next few years. Here's why.

1. Your bag, and your shoulder, will thank you.

At last check, I have sixty electronic books on my "to read" shelf at and I'm pretty sure I've got a few more lurking in my iPhone that I forgot to track there. All those books stashed in my phone and it doesn't weigh even a gram more as a result. No matter where I am, I can have my current book, and anything else I might want to read instead, instantly accessible. I can carry around writing-related reference books, and a dictionary and thesaurus too, without breaking a sweat.

I went to Kuwait in January to visit a friend who works there, and having my books with me electronically was a lifesaver for the long flights, a total of 13 hours in the air. As a natural speed-reader, I couldn't have carried enough paper books to keep me going that long.

2. "What did that character look like again?"

Search! I often find myself trying to remember a specific detail of a novel I'm reading, or wanting to find a piece of advice buried in a non-fiction book. Every ereader I've used over the years has had a search function, which lets me get at those little nuggets of information without flipping endless pages trying to remember where I saw it.

3. No more folded-down corners.

Another great feature of ereaders is annotation. They've all allowed me to make notes on a book. Kindle, and the iPhone and PC readers for those of us not blessed with a physical Kindle, can even upload those annotations to the Internet where others can see what notes you took.
Even if you keep them to yourself, it's great to be able to mark passages or pages for later reference, and get a list of all those marks so you can look back at things you've forgotten you wanted to reread.

4. Portability between devices.

Amazingly, I can read that ebook from March 2000 on my iPhone, because it's in eReader format and eReader is still around. I'll admit that I have lost a few books to formats that end up being abandoned, but the vast majority of my library could be read on my iPhone right now. As ereading becomes more popular, I think the formats will become more standardized and we won't lose books any more. We're already heading in that direction with the popularity of the ePub format.

5. Instant gratification

When someone mentions a book I might like, I can look it up online on my phone and buy it in an instant. (This, incidentally, is also the primary reason that ebooks are evil. ;)

6. eBook + ziploc bag + bathtub = bliss

One of the first arguments people always seem to make against ebooks is, "You can't take that thing in the bathtub like a paper book."
Every reading device I've owned has found itself in a ziploc bag and clutched in my bubble-covered hand, and many have taken an unexpected swim. With the bag sealed tight, there's no damage. Ever dropped a paperback in the tub? I have, and they don't come out pristine.

Related to this, I also set my iPhone on the magazine rack of the treadmill or elliptical machine, set a book to autoscroll in the eReader app (currently the only one that permits autoscroll), and work out while reading. (I also do this while crocheting if I feel like reading at the same time. No need to stop crocheting to turn a page.)

7. Free books galore!

Sites like list free books available for your ereader. does too, and publishers often make certain books available for free Kindle download. You can try out a new author by picking up a free book (like, say, a certain Heather Wardell's "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo") and you might find your new favorite writer.

Even when they're not free, many ebooks are very reasonably priced.
(Some, sadly, are not, but I'll touch on that below.) Nearly all are less than ten dollars, and you can often get several books for that price. My own books are $0.99 and many other writers sell their work for $0.99 to $2.99.

8. Privacy

Want to read "The Erotic Adventures of the Many-Armed Man"? (I made that title up, but if you'd like to write a book to go with it, let me know when it's available and I'll check it out. :) You might not feel comfortable reading it in public in paperback, with the cover on full display, but with an ereader nobody knows what you're reading. This is partly why erotica epublishers are doing so well: you can buy online and read in privacy rather than carrying a stack of books up to a cashier and trying not to blush.

And a few benefits we don't quite have yet but that I'm sure are coming.

1. The ability to lend books

This is one of the downsides of ebooks at the moment. However, many libraries have made ebook loans a reality, and I think that as ebook reading takes off we will shortly see the ability to lend a book to a friend across any platforms. Users of Barnes and Noble's nook reader can do this now, sharing with other nook readers, and I'm certain it will expand. Readers will demand it.

2. Cheaper ebook pricing

Some of the big publishers are still trying to charge the same price, or sometimes even more money, for an ebook than for its paper equivalent. They usually justify this by saying that the majority of the cost of producing a book is in the editing and typesetting and formatting and cover creation, not in its paper and covers. Even if we give them that point, however, why aren't ebooks even slightly cheaper to make up for the paper and covers?

I think as more and more people read electronically, those prices will come down, because the authors of publishers that don't lower their prices will see readers moving to authors at other publishers and they won't be pleased with that.

I'm not sure what the 'sweet spot' is for ebook pricing. Amazon's Kindle books from major publishers are usually $9.99. Many self-publishers come in at around $2.99. I, and many others, have set pricing at $0.99 in the hopes that more people will pick up the books at such a low cost. But over the next little while I think pricing will stabilize, and I definitely think it'll be lower than paper prices.

About the author ~ 

Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my iPhone.

I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.

This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.

I succeeded, and the first draft of "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!

In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet (I am on Ravelry and would be happy to add you as a friend!), take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Sapphire, and play clarinet. Generally not all at once.
This picture shows me wearing a sweater I crocheted and holding the finishers' medal I received at my second half marathon, May 13/08.

Find Heather ~ 

 Her latest book ~ 

Planning to Live 

Thirty-something Rhiannon is an obsessive planner and goal-setter, but somehow nothing she achieves ever seems good enough to her. Determined to lose forty pounds for her best friend's August wedding, Rhiannon flees her parents' house in a Christmas-day blizzard to avoid the temptation of all her favorite foods, but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree.

Unable to escape the car, with her leg trapped and bleeding and her cell phone out of reach, Rhiannon is at first certain she'll be rescued and writes notes to her friends and family to pass the time. As the weather cools and her condition deteriorates, though, she recognizes the possibility that her life might be over. Interspersed with increasingly desperate escape attempts, her letters become deeper and more heart-felt as she comes to see what really matters in life.

Read an excerpt ~

Chapter One

My eyes open to a blurred whiteness, and I blink, confused, until it resolves into the airbag beneath my cheek. Images rush into my mind, scrambled snapshots of my car skidding off the icy road and plunging into trees and darkness, and I jerk upright and grab for the door handle. Huge mistake. My stomach lurches below my suddenly kilometer-a-second heart and my brain seems to twist and spin in all directions at once.
I collapse onto the airbag and take slow deliberate breaths to force back the panic and nausea. In, hold, out, hold, repeat. At first it dizzies me even more but I persist, counting the breaths in my head and focusing on the numbers, and begin to regain my much-needed control.
Once I reach twenty, I cautiously sit up and run my mind over my body. My head's not spinning any more, and my pounding heart and churning stomach are settling down. Nothing else is clamoring for my attention.
Relief fills me, soothing my insides even more, along with amazement at my luck. I could have been badly hurt, but I've escaped without a scratch. Not wanting to spend another moment in the car, I undo my seatbelt then open my door and swing my legs around to get out.
Unbearable pain rips through my left leg, and the whiteness rises to claim me again.

Other Books by Heather ~ 

  Go Small or Go HomeSeven Exes Are Eight Too Many

If you've never tried ebooks, now's your chance! Since e-books are the authors favorite way to read right now, she has generously donated three sets of all four of her e-books to give away as well as a paper copy of her newest book ~ Planning to Live to a fourth winner (and since she's feeling extremely generous, that winner may also get copies of the e-books as well.

To enter, follow the giveaway rules below & comment on this post and let her know what you think of ebooks. When filling out the form, please make sure to choose which format you would like the books in should you win.
 GIVEAWAY  Rules for entering:

  • This contest is open to residents of USA residents only!
  • Please complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count.
  • The contest will end on November 10, 2010 at 11:59PM EST; 4 winners will be selected and contacted thereafter.
  • Once the winners are contacted, they will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen (make sure to check your spam filters!).
  • Book will be shipped directly from the author.