Saturday, 26 May 2012

What makes you choose an ebook?

I do a lot of browsing for ebooks.  This morning as I browsed at Amazon, I suddenly became aware of why I wasn't lured into buying.  So I thought I'd share my little epiphany with you.

What turns me off buying an ebook?

Sometimes I find myself shaking my head in annoyance when I browse for ebooks.  Here's why:
  • Bad cover designs - the cover design is what most attracts me, at first anyway.  The reality, for me at least, is that the vast majority of ebook designs are unattractive.  And it's not just the self published varieties.  It is rare that I find an ebook cover design that I like.  For some reason they are much less attractive than their paperback cousins that sit tantalisingly on bookshop shelves; and I don't understand why.  Do authors/publishers think that ebook readers are simply victims of quick fix self-gratification?  Just because online shopping is easy doesn't mean that products are chosen willy-nilly.  On the positive, those that put the time and effort into a quality design have a distinct advantage in a flooded market.
Chip Kidd is a book jacket designer and he is passionate about getting the cover right.  His talk on TED  provides an interesting insight into the process of coming up with the right cover design.  He is a little sceptical about ebooks, but I think authors could learn a lot about the importance of the cover from this talk.

  • Bad titles -  go check it out for yourself, there are many bad titles in the ebook universe.  I don't want to give any specific examples as I'm not interested in 'naming and shaming' but after the cover design the title is what attracts me to an ebook, and many are uninspiring.  One of my favourite titles is The War of Don Emmaunel's Nether Parts, it's a long title but interesting and reflects the humour in the novel.  Of course titles can be short too.  Dracula, is a very effective short title.  Another favourite title is The Dark is Rising.  I really enjoyed this novel as a child.  I actually 'invented' this exact title for a novel I had planned then realized (or remembered) that it was already a title!  I still wish I could use it though.
  • No blurb - some ebook authors go to all the trouble of writing and publishing their book only to leave out a blurb.  This has me lost for words.
  • Reviews - I always look at the reviews before I decide to buy, but I take them with a serious pinch of salt.  I am sceptical of ebooks that have lots of reviews that say little about what actually happens in the novel, especially if they are full of praise but give no specifics.  If I find a scattering of critical reviews that are clearly written by average readers who have actually read the book then it is usually a sure sign the book is not very good.
  • The price - Price doesn't really bother me that much.  For unknown and self published authors I have paid up to $5 for an ebook.  For authors that I know and trust I have paid up to $10, and on occasion, more.  But there are some ebooks that have an above $20 tag on them, and that's my limit.  Any more than 20 bucks and I want the real thing on my book shelf.
  • The author's page - I always click on it to read more about the author to get a feel for his/her style and genre.  But, you guessed it, many ebook authors have no or limited information.
  • Bad writing - the sample is a godsend.  I always read the sample and this will be the deal breaker for me.  Even after I have been attracted to the cover and title, read the blurb and reviews, and been happy with the price, I will often be turned off by the calibre of writing in the sample.  Yes, the story has to grab me, but most often I find I am turned off by poor writing and editing - the bane of the self published market.
So that's about it, all the things that really turn me off buying an ebook.  I had considered being more positive in this post and writing about the things that make me want to buy, but the reality for me is that it's a process of elimination and this is how I choose when I browse the ebook shelves.  

So what makes you choose or not choose an ebook?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Blogger's Block

I awoke to the sound of wind whistling through the tall trees that line the lake.  Dark clouds painted the sky a charcoal grey.  I sat up and saw the same colour reflected in the lake's waters.

"Well, are we going riding?"  My partner asked.  

We always go cycling on the weekends and I was eager yesterday (I have a new bike) but cycling in a cold head wind is not my idea of fun.  

"Can I have a cup of tea?"  I asked instead and snuggled back down under the bed covers.  The cat stretched at the foot of the bed before tucking into a tight little ball of tortoiseshell fluff.

Today is blogging day and I had no topic.
Last weekend I didn't blog either, as we spent the weekend with friends.  I do, actually, have many topics in mind.  I have to tell you about my new writing schedule which is working wonders; I've got a piece on the back burner about what makes us care about characters in fiction; and I have lots of reviews to write ...

So I drank one cup of tea and finished reading a story.  Then a second cup and a different story.  I finally made it out of bed, confronted the cold (it's autumn here) and emailed some fellow writers.

We had breakfast, scrambled egg on toast and fresh coffee.  Then I was in my little writing space, with a view of the lake, writing my novel.  

I love writing at the moment and cannot get enough of it.

Lunch was a bowl of pasta, followed by more writing.

This afternoon I made a cup of tea and read a short story called 'Snow White and the Seven Dogs' by Denise Moncrief (part of a compilation called 'Unleashed Hearts') and really enjoyed it, perfect for an afternoon read and cup of tea.  

Then I was back at the computer writing more of my novel before nap time - love weekend naps.

The sun set, not that we could see it through those dark clouds, I ran a warm bath and poured a wine.

Finally, as I lolled in the bath, I tried to think of a topic for this week's blog post.  Nothing.  I googled 'what to blog about?' (I take my iPad to the bath) this took me to a number of sites giving blogging tips.  I only read one, "Blog regularly", well I've failed there, haha!

Essentially, I think I've got blogger's block, brought on by a serious desire to write creatively.  Or, maybe I'm just lazy ;)

See you next week.