You, The Reader!- Your view on ebooks.

So a while back I posted a questionnaire asking readers about their thoughts on ebooks. If you didn’t see the questionnaire then here it is!
1. Have you delved into ebooks? If so, what is your ereader of choice and why?
2. When choosing an ebook, what is the #1 deciding factor for purchase? The #2 factor? And #3?
3. Does DRM (Digital Rights Management) matter to you? Would you choose not to purchase an ebook if it has DRM?
4. Do you look at the “others purchased these books also” selection at the bottom of an ebook page? Does this usually lead to a purchase of a suggested selection?
5. What is the maximum price you would pay for an ebook? Does the stature of the author (King, Koontz, Meyers, Rowlings, etc.) influence what you would pay?
6. If a free ebook is offered by an author and you like it, would you then pay for their other work(s)?
7. How do you usually hear about new books? What starts your search?
8. Free-for-all essay part! Use this portion to sound off and say whatever you want. Any questions you wished were asked? Prefer a different font when answering questionnaires? Go for it, this is your place to vent/crow/cry/laugh/yell!

I was lucky enough to receive nearly forty responses from readers! Thanks everyone!
I shall now, in a very scientific way, breakdown the results question by question. Remember, this is science and there is no room for error or interpretation! What I reveal here is how EVERYONE thinks.
Just kidding. Please use these results and questions as a jumping off point and comment away!

1. Have you delved into ebooks? If so, what is your ereader of choice and why?
Everyone answered that, yes, they have delved into ebooks. The ereader of choice: Kindle or Kindle app on another platform. Those that have an actual Kindle LOVE them. I had several respondents make sure to point this out. Second favorite device for reading ebooks? The iPad using a Kindle app or Stanza. Some Nook readers, but only a couple. Only had one say Sony. I personally use my iPhone with the Kindle app.

2. When choosing an ebook, what is the #1 deciding factor for purchase? The #2 factor? And #3?
#1 reason folks buy an ebook is because of the author. They already know their work, so they are happy to keep purchasing that author’s work. #2 reason is whether it’s been recommended by a friend or if the synopsis/reviews/blurbs catch their attention. I put these two together because they were neck and neck and because they really are about the same thing: word of mouth. #3 was almost 100% about price, but subject matter came close. The next biggest reason? Cover! This wasn’t huge, but it was mentioned quite a bit. As was availability on platform (Kindle store, Nook store, iBookstore, etc.). Oh, and a good sampling. Authors: make sure your stuff is free of typos! This really ticks off those that use samples as a basis for purchasing your book!

3. Does DRM (Digital Rights Management) matter to you? Would you choose not to purchase an ebook if it has DRM?
Now, this was very interesting. I had three categories of responses: Doesn’t matter, really. What’s DRM? And, SWEET GOD IF IT HAS DRM THEN I WILL NUKE THIS WORLD!
The majority leaned towards it doesn’t matter a whole lot. I found that interesting. Then it was a near tie between those that had no idea what DRM is (Digital Rights Management means it can’t be shared across platforms, like Kindle to Nook), and those that said they wouldn’t even think about purchasing an ebook with DRM. My take? I make sure I don’t put DRM on any of my ebook releases. Why lose a sale? Am I worried about piracy? No, I give my stuff away for free through my podcast. Plus, pirates are cool!

4. Do you look at the “others purchased these books also” selection at the bottom of an ebook page? Does this usually lead to a purchase of a suggested selection?
This was interesting. Why? Because almost every single person responded that they look at the “others purchased these books also” selection, but that they rarely BUY a book because of this listing. Some do, but most don’t. Hmmmm…

5. What is the maximum price you would pay for an ebook? Does the stature of the author (King, Koontz, Meyers, Rowlings, etc.) influence what you would pay?
So, the range people would pay was from $4.99-$25 for ebooks. No one said $.99. No one. The real surprising part was how many people said they don’t care about price if it’s a book they really want.
As for author status? To sum up with my favorite response: “Status schmatus! I’d rather give an up-and-coming author money than King or any of those guys! I don’t need to fund their new summer house!”. Many respondents pay for what they can’t get. You can get plenty of King used for $2 or in the bargain rack at B&N for 70% off. Gotta love supply and demand!

6. If a free ebook is offered by an author and you like it, would you then pay for their other work(s)?
The answer to this was a resounding YES! IF they like what they read.
Authors: if you’re gonna give it away for free, make it good! Don’t put your crap out there. It’ll do more harm than good.

7. How do you usually hear about new books? What starts your search?
As I expected, people listed many, many different sources for finding new books to read. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, advertisements, friend recommendations, blogs, radio, podcasts, etc. You name it, it has some influence.

8. Free-for-all essay part!
Here are a couple excerpts from respondents. These summed up a lot of what others said.

“We are steaming towards an all virtual world where book shelves are only for show, as we have seen the demise of the CD rack and are seeing the move from DVD to digital download alternatives.
Personally I prefer the ability to carry all of my books with me in one handy device, whether they’re fiction, reference or… er… is there only two kinds of book?”

“Do whatever you can to make sure your ebooks are never priced anywhere near the print book. The big publishers charging $9.99 or whatever are absolutely insane.”

“I’ve read/heard some fantastic stuff and I enjoy the personal accessibility smaller authors give their fans. I feel better as a consumer supporting people who are thankful for it. Not to say that big published authors aren’t grateful, but you certainly don’t get personal thank yous from them, either.”

“I love electronics, that said; the e-book, cloud book, whatever… maybe the future, however, it can not compare to the texture or scent of holding an actual hard copy print of a book… that my friend is intoxicating.”

“I hate Snooki. Why she has a book out, I’ll never understand.”

Quick round-up:
Reading all of these was pretty cool. It was great to hear directly from readers (and some authors that made sure they answered as readers). The #1 thing that caught me by surprise was how many people are willing to pay top dollar for an ebook IF it’s what they want right now. I have to admit I’m one of those people.
When reading all of this it strikes me that the answers are really close to how I feel about buying and reading books in general, whether print or ebooks. What does this mean? Reading is reading is reading. And readers are readers are readers. Doesn’t matter if it’s a tattered paperback or a brand new shiny iPad, it’s about the story and how that story makes you feel.

What all this info tells me is that, as an author, I just need to keep writing and keep improving!

I’m glad I did this and glad everyone responded.

Thank you!

Posted on March 9, 2011, in What's Up.... and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Very interesting survey, Jake. Thanks for conducting it and sharing your thoughts. Gives me something to think about…

    • It is very interesting info. It’s not a scientific study in anyway, but it does give some insight into buying patterns. One thing I’m going to be careful about is jumping on the $.99 bandwagon too soon. I’m selling a couple DEAD MECHs each day, which isn’t huge, but at $3.99 it’s nice royalties. I’d have to sell over 20 copies a day at $.99 to equal my current daily average. I don’t have that reach yet.
      Once I hit a steady flow I may do a month long $.99 promotion, but I don’t think I’ll ever keep my novels at that price. Just doesn’t make sense.

  2. Chris Bowsman

    I’m baffled by the idea of people paying $25 for ebooks. Ebooks cost nothing to make or distribute. They’re not even that difficult to format. If you managed to turn on a computer and write a book, you’re insane if you pay someone else to format it for Kindle or whatever.

    • Yes, the price ranges pretty much ALL had caveats when people answered. People spend money on books, whether print or ebooks, for a reason. I think the key is what rules all commerce on the planet: supply and demand. If there is an ebook out there you have been waiting on forever and it’s only released at the $25 price, and won’t be going down for a long time, then you’re gonna pay $25. If it doesn’t matter so much then you’ll wait. Supply and demand.

  3. Chris,

    I’m one of those that said I’d pay $25 for an e-book. There were a number of caveats to that however. It would have to be an author I REALLY liked. And would have to be a self-published book with extra content. J.C. Hutchins has released an e-book with games and personalized signature. To me those extras are cool.

    I pay what I see is the worth of the item to me. I haven’t paid $25 for an e-book, but I could forsee the day I did because of something really cool it had to offer.

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