E-book gifts at Smashwords

From the blog of Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords:

Smashwords yesterday released a new ebook gifting feature.

Because Smashwords books are available in multiple ebook formats, our books are readable on any e-reading device.

Simply click to the book you want to gift, and click the “give as gift” button. The shopping cart will ask you for their name and email address. The lucky recipient will receive an email with a hyperlink that allows them to claim their gift. If they’re already logged in to their Smashwords account, the book will appear in their Smashwords Library. If they don’t have a Smashwords account, they’ll be prompted to register.

Prior to this new feature, authors were unable to purchase their own books. One advantage of the gifting option over Smashwords Coupons is that the recipient, assuming they’re already a Smashwords member, can simply click the hyperlink in the email and the book is loaded into their Smashwords Library. No purchase or checkout process necessary.

In the next few weeks, we’ll add new features based on your feedback. We’ll also integrate prompts into purchase confirmation emails and review reminders so your fans are encouraged to purchase your book as a gift for their friends.

Buying an Ereader [Checklist]

Kindle 4 / Photo: Amazon.com

Are you interested in buying an ereader? There is more to it than just comparing screen resolution or memory space.

You probably know about Kindle, Nook or Kobo ereaders. There are many great reviews around. Their common disadvantage is that they don’t give information, the one not about ereaders themselves, which will affect they way you’ll use them.

Ask yourself questions below, and you’ll be better prepared to choose the right ereading device.

Continue reading “Buying an Ereader [Checklist]”

Is there hope for e-publishing after all?

This, dear reader, may be a very strange question, but from my point of view as a reader of e-books, it feels a valid one.

Many times I have tried to purchase e-books through many of the known sources like Kobobooks, Diesel E-books, Barnes and Noble, etc. Many of these times I was presented with the notification that the desired book was not available for sale in my territory, which is quite annoying. I prefer reading (e-)books in English, and those are nearly never available in the Netherlands in that language. Attempting to buy them from British suppliers fails equally hard then. More annoying is that I try to hand the industry my money and they do not want it, for some odd reason, yet they keep complaining that they are suffering from piracy. But I shall not go into that.

This afternoon I heard that the third book in the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, named Goliath, is available. Just to make sure that the e-publishing industry is still up to its annoying standards, I signed into Kobobooks.com and attempted to purchase said book. It would fail, but without trying there is no reason to whine some more.

But then it happened. I was able to buy the book. Contrary to Leviathan and Behemoth, I was able to give them my money and officially acquire Goliath. Perhaps this is a mistake (never underestimate an industry), but if this is for real, and my right to possess the book is not revoked (this has happened to users of software by e.g. Apple Inc., so nothing is beyond that idea) then this might well and just be a giant inching forward into the real world by the e-publishing industry.

Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld

And, dear reader, if you like steampunk books, I can very much recommend these books by Scott Westerfeld.


A blogpost on TheDigitalReader about “World Reader” drew my attention.

What is WorldReader?

E-readers and e-books. They are normal things for us, for many among us they are daily goods. WorldReader wants to use them to change the world. Using e-readers and e-books, they want to educate the people who usually are not able to get to this kind of information, and ignite the love of reading in as many people as possible. WorldReader wants to help others, so shouldn’t we try to help WorldReader get into the eyes of the e-book world?


E-readers and e-books are much easier to transport and distribute because of their size and weight. They can be charged with simple solar panels etc. And they save trees.

If you want and can, post a link to their site or this post, mention them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Diaspora, wherever you think it might help.


Paper books, electronic books

Paper books are the best. The feel of the paper, the smell of the ink, the weight of the book.

E-books are the best. My e-reader is so convenient, I can take so many book with me in one fine small device and they are ever present.

Yes, the fight is on, since a long time. Reports from Amazon.com show that the number of books sold in e-format outnumbers that of hardcovers and paperbacks combined. Reports here in the Netherlands show a dramatic increase in the sale of e-books and e-readers. E-books are seriously on the rise.

Will paper books disappear? I don’t know. I think it will take a long time before they do, if ever. More and more people will switch to e-books, the more as tablet-devices are becoming more mainstream. Most of them come pre-loaded with an e-book reader program, which makes the step to e-books easier. But there will always be people who favour paper and print. The whole shouting contest on what is the best is a total waste of breath and energy. Use what you prefer and enjoy it. Do not try to convert someone to change their favourite medium. Converting is useless. It is, for me, even an offense. Respect that someone can have a different opinion (and that is not just because of their reading preference). No need to agree with it.

I am an e-book reading kind of person, but I am not going to slap someone on the head with my e-reader. If they return the favour with their favourite 800 page hardcover, they will win that battle, even though there is not a war. After all, it is the joy of reading that counts. Not the medium you use for it.

And who knows. Modern technology goes fast. Maybe soon there will be e-readers that can emit the smell of ink for people who like that…

Ebooks Ltd.

How sad it is that many publishers still think that the world is as limited as they want it to be.

Often I find  it it hard to buy a certain e-book.

Thou shalt not shop

Whenever I see such a message, I shake my head. Does the publishing world not see that they are limiting their own income? They hold the rights to distribute books everywhere. Instead of allowing someone to hand them money for a digital copy of the book, they prefer to wait until someone buys the rights to distribute the book in a certain region of the world. I am sure that, once such a sale is made, this is much more profitable for the publisher than selling the few copies that they could manage themselves. But… if they only sell a few copies, would that not be the same for the person buying the rights?

Would you buy an expensive right for selling only a handful of books? Hardly, unless you are a philanthropist. Lots of e-books will never be sold in my part of the world, simply because there is not enough audience for them, making the sale of the rights to them very unlikely.

I have engaged in a few e-mail discussions with publishers about this strange behaviour. And the strange reply I have received more than once is: “No, you can’t have the e-book. But you can buy the paper version from us!” Uhm… I did not buy an e-reader so I can buy more dead-tree books. Another interesting reply I once received was: “The author did not tell us to distribute the book world-wide.” Uhm, hello, aren’t you as the publisher in some way responsible for perhaps reminding an author that there is more than the United States in this world? That there are more people who want to buy the works? An author is someone who writes books. A publisher, to me, is someone who should have a good view on publishing and distributing these books.

For now the publishing industry makes the same mistakes that the music industry made many years ago. L’histoire se répète, history repeats itself. Why would they learn from each other, right? Everyone is entitled to their own mistakes.

This is one of the reasons I am grateful for places like Smashwords, where I never had the misfortune of seeing a message as shown above. Another reason to be happy is that more and more authors are looking at self-publishing, to avoid these weird publishing restrictions.

I do not want to pirate the books I want to read. I am more than willing to pay for good books. So, publishing industry, let me give you my money.