A bit about ebook availability for various platforms

Hilda asked a question in a prior comment thread, and I thought I would answer it because it also allows me to talk a bit about availability of ebooks on different platforms.

Concern and question: For my birthday in August, I requested my sons and daughter to give me an easy to use e-reader, (I have way over 1,000 books at home) Your paper books are showing my intense use. I’m in no way an expert in anything electronic. Previous discussions in this forum seem to indicate difficulties in obtaining your books or some of them in Kindle. No discussions of the Nook. 3 days ago, I went to compare Kindle and Nook. I found lots of your books in the Nook (Barnes and Noble) under Sagara and West, maybe all of them; they were very easy to read. I also went to a Kindle vendor, but could not compare them, except for looking at the screen size, the 9″ Kindle, vs. the 7″: Nook.. Will all your books, currently published and in the future, be easily available in Nook? A friend also suggested that I could use an I Pad. Would I be able to access all your books there? If I sound ignorant, I am. My law degree is not good here.

The reason people have difficulty finding some of my books on the Kindle is because some of my print novels don’t exist as ebooks at all. Those would be the first eight of my DAW novels – the two Sacred Hunt books, and the Six Sun Sword novels – which were published before ebooks were part of Penguin Putnam’s production process.

Any one of my novels that’s available on the Kindle is also available for the Nook.

I personally have an iPad, which I adore – but I don’t yet use it for reading. If you have an iPad, you can access the Kindle store (through the Kindle app) and the Nook books (through the Nook app). There’s also a Kobo app. No, wait, you can access the Nook books if you live in the US. If you don’t, you can’t. (I don’t, and can’t). My father uses an iPad for reading because the screen is large and bright, and he reads indoors; if he’s outdoors, he’s walking.

The down side to the iPad as an ereader is that compared to a Kindle or a Nook (not the colour variety), it eats batteries. It has to be recharged pretty much once a day (depending on how often you use it). A kindle doesn’t.

A Kindle/Nook/Kobo/dedicated ebook reader is better for reading in bright daylight. I will use my iPad in bright daylight, but I have to crank up the brightness when I’m outside. You won’t have to do that on a Kindle/Nook/Kobo/etc. Conversely, it’s much easier to read on the iPad in any other lighting condition, although I believe many ereaders now come with a backlight (which will eat battery life as well).

I’ve received word that my DAW novels are now in the physical queue for conversion in the production department (which involves OCR scanning and clean-up, before anything else can be done) – but I have no idea how long that will take. What this does mean is that they will be made available, and when they are, they’ll be available on any platform you choose.

Unless, again, you live in Canada.

Amazon‘s Kindle store doesn’t list the DAW novels that currently are available (Hidden City, City of Night, House Name) if I am surfing from Canada, unless I really dig (I have to click on the various side-links; a direct search fails to show them to me at all). There are no DAW or Roc titles that I can see in the iBooks Canada store, either. Since DAW has North American rights to the novels, I have no idea why no one in Canada can currently buy them, but will do some digging on my end on Friday, which is when I have access to the Penguin Canada distribution team.

They seem to be available in Canada on the Kobo. Since Indigo, our single bookstore chain, has gone with the Kobo as an ebook reading/delivery system, maybe the lack of presence on Amazon.com and the iBooks store for Canadian readers is deliberate.

That was a minor digression. When the books have been converted, they’ll be available for purchase at almost all of the on-line venues, so make your choice based on what you think you’d like best in terms of the reader itself.

Ebook availability upon publication

Which leads us to: It took Amazon.com 36 hours to make Echoes available for purchase. I started the only process available to me – Canadian! – to get Echoes to Barnes & Noble, but at the moment, there’s a fourteen day lag time (estimated; it could be fourteen days to be approved for distribution, and then an unknown number of days to actually be distributed). I’m considering my options now, because at the moment there’s no way to make certain the book is available to all outlets at the same time (Americans shouldn’t have this problem for any of the primary ebook distributors). If I could upload directly to B&N, I think it would be available in the same time frame as it is on Amazon, but I can’t. Because I’m Canadian (trying not to sound bitter here >.>). I have no idea what Apple’s lead time is because the initial approval to be a vendor at all takes weeks, and I haven’t been approved yet.

In order for Canadians to get the ebook to Barnes & Noble‘s Nook store, it has to be published at Smashwords.com first, which means it has to be on sale there first. There’s no other way to have it in the “pending” queue for release to other ebook outlets. If I wait to upload to Amazon, there’s a better chance that the Amazon and B&N releases would hit at the same time – but the book would still be available for sale on Smashwords weeks earlier.

I know that publishers can set strict on-sale dates for their ebook titles, but those publishers aren’t relying on Smashwords for the bulk of their distribution. So, it’s very likely that any of my ebooks will be available at staggered times outside of my control.

I don’t want to penalize anyone who prefers one reading platform over the other, so I’m still considering options here. Smashwords does sell the books in pretty much any format – .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .lrf and .pdb. All of these can be sideloaded onto an ereading device you choose and…

Smashwords is also available to iPad users through the Stanza app.

Actually, that is one advantage to the iPad — and, if you like the idea of tablets, to the Android (which I don’t have). The bookstores are reached through apps that run on the tablets. So if you own an iPad, you can go to Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. Android has a separate bookstore, but all of the big ones are also available.

But the downside to that is that your library can be fragmented across these various readers.

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sascha
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 20:57:48

    Natural selection, supply/demand, etc. They’re going to sell a lot fewer books than Amazon with a supply chain like that. Barnes and Noble can suck it if they offer a book for sale weeks later than Amazon. I love my publisher-agnostic iphone with readers for all book sellers. On the other hand, Hidden City was available at BN several days before Amazon could figure out wtf and make the book available. So I have that in my bn reader.

    Reply

  2. Hilda
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 21:19:19

    Lots to think about, but very grateful.

    Reply

  3. ElizabethN
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 22:01:34

    omnilit / all romance ebooks have been used to release self-pub material by several authors I read, i.e. Ilona & Gordon Andrews & Courtney Milan (no DRM), and also corporate publishers as HQN & BenBella have your books (with DRM) for sale. Those two sites don’t reportedly lock the self-pub ebook into some of the geographical restrictions of the other sites which is why the Andrews mentioned using omnilit. I almost hate to mention those sites as I’m sure that you’d rather be writing than releasing older stories onto the world at yet another distributor.

    thank you for releasing your stories, very good news to read about the older DAW books being in the pipeline.

    I started out with a sony reader and loved it but the software was atrocious, even with Calibre. Looked at both the nook & kindle and ended up buying a kindle. I’ve had to deal with amazon customer service and have only good things to say. I would recommend going for a device that has platforms across multiple sites – phones, tablets, pc/mac etc – like Kindle, Nook, Kobo.

    I just frequently wish that Amazon didn’t make it so easy to buy books as I have very little resistance to the lure of books.

    Reply

    • Estara
      Jul 06, 2011 @ 13:59:59

      As a German reader I can confirm that AllRomance/Omnilit sells me every book they offer without regional restriction or DRM – they offer various formats, you can redownload as often as you want BUT you have to decide on what format you want after the sale – the first format you download will be the only one offered for download to you from then on.

      Reply

      • Michelle Sagara
        Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:06:27

        BUT you have to decide on what format you want after the sale – the first format you download will be the only one offered for download to you from then on.

        Smashwords — which doesn’t have access to the ebooks published by major publishers as far as I can tell — does allow you to download any ebook you’ve purchased in any of their many formats.

        Reply

        • Estara
          Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:14:35

          Indeed! I have a Smashwords account and an AllRomance and an Amazon Kindle one (since I figured out how to crack the DRM to transform it into .epub) and a Books on Board one and a Kobo one ^^

          I like buying where I can get it cheapest, so I do not mind browsing for best price.

          I just thought you’d like to know the mechanics of Omnilit et. al. so you could decide on whether you wanted to invest time in offering your work there, too.

        • Estara
          Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:15:47

          OH and AllRomance also don’t have the traditional publishers – they have lots of e-publishers and independents. Because the traditional publishers of course want DRM.

  4. Ann Kopchik
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 22:38:04

    I have an iPad (gen1) and have been reading quite a bit on it. I usually charge it every other or every three days or so, even when I’m on a reading binge. But I do keep the screen brightness lower, as I read in bed.

    I’m ok with disparate libraries, but that might be because my own physical library is scattered all around my house. It’s more organized just being in three places (iBook, Nook, and Kindle apps) on the iPad.

    But I’d only recommend an iPad if you plan on using it for other things too (I write on mine and play games). It’s kind of expensive a device for just an e-reader.

    Reply

  5. Michelle Sagara
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 22:44:17

    @ElizabethN: Thank you for this. I hadn’t heard of Omnilit (I think everyone’s heard of All Romance, but I didn’t realize they were connected.)

    I’ve done my writing for the day, and I’m in the revisions phase, which I’ve been doing in the evenings – that, and the ebook wrangling – so I’m going to go look into them now.

    Reply

  6. Mark waugh
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 08:30:53

    That is inspirational stuff! I wanna collect Stanza app for Smash words! Would you please to share update link for download Stanza app? Thanks a lot :)

    Reply

  7. shauntel
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 13:26:14

    I don’t know if you are aware but the Kindle has a built in light with it’s cover and it is excellent.(you actually attach it to the kindle no external batteries required) The kindle batterie still last a very very long time even wiith the light. I use it day or night to read all of my ebooks. This is just to let everyone know about the night reading with the kindle.

    Reply

    • Michelle Sagara
      Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:16:51

      I wasn’t certain about the current Kindles and night reading – but thank you for pointing this out :).

      I love my iPad – but I don’t read on it very much. My father reads on his all the time, but when we were looking for a reader for him, we chose the iPad because a) I wanted mine back and b) he makes the font size so large (his eyes are very bad) that the smaller screens had very little text on them after enlargement. Sometimes only a sentence. The iPad at least had 2 paragraphs.

      I think with the larger kindles this wouldn’t have been a problem, but we had no good way of testing those out here. The Kobo was just too small, and my father couldn’t read the silk-screen button text or the built-in menus very easily.

      But I am firm believer in using whatever platform you love best :). There’s no right way or best way to read.

      Reply

  8. Estara
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 13:57:14

    As someone with various eye problems since 2008 I would also like to point out that the advantage of an eInk screen is that you do NOT get the eye fatigue when reading from it which you’ll get with an iPad that is backlit – or any of the cellphones that allow ebook reading.

    If you have no problems reading books for long periods, but you DO have problems looking at your pc screen for hours that might be another aspect to consider.

    Reply

  9. Michelle Sagara
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:20:54

    OH and AllRomance also don’t have the traditional publishers – they have lots of e-publishers and independents. Because the traditional publishers of course want DRM.

    AllRomance has my Luna books, so they do deal with traditional publishers now, and the books do have DRM, I think. I’m not sure about the latter. Omnilit has the BenBella books (and the Luna books) as well.

    Reply

  10. Estara
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 15:36:09

    Hmm, then maybe the distinguishing factor was Agency Publishers? Might be.

    Reply

  11. technomom
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 15:57:05

    I did a lot of research on various platforms. I started out reading on an older Palm PDA, then moved to an iTouch. I have an iPad now, and while I absolutely love it for some things, it is slightly heavy (I have arthritis, carpal and cubital tunnel). I can easily read on my Android phone, too. Which format a book is in isn’t terribly important, honestly, because Calibre makes conversion a simple affair. I regularly convert from Kindle to epub and back. I honestly prefer epubs, because I can edit them myself, but the difference is academic.

    Also, all of those have one thing in common: for those of us who like to read in bed, the light from them contributes to sleep problems. The only e-readers that do not do so are those with e-ink screens, the Kindle and the black and white Nooks.

    After comparing the Kindle and the Nook, I chose a Nook. I am incredibly happy with everything but the storage capacity (2GB, which I’m already hitting). The Kindle has 4GB, of which they say approximately 3GB is available to the user. However, with the Nook I am able to add additional storage using mcroSD cards (up to 32GB), which I’ve done. That means the Nook has potentially unlimited storage – I could have an entire set of different cards, each loaded with different types of books (and I’ve come nowhere NEAR filling the 32GB card). The Nook also claims to have better battery life, but considering how long the battery life is on both the Nook (3 weeks with Wifi enabled, several months with it off) and the Kindle (I can’t remember the specs at the moment), the difference isn’t very important.

    Honestly, I would like to have access to a Kindle for research purposes, but I’m so happy with my Nook that it isn’t anything like a priority at the moment.

    Reply

  12. Aharpy
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 17:45:51

    I have both a Sony Ereader and an Ipad. I primarily use the Sony I like that it suppports most writing formats. It’s also easier to just stick down in my purse.

    Reply

  13. Theresa
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 03:44:17

    I have a Kindle (gen 2) and I love it. I haven’t had any problems getting Michelle’s books on the Kindle (with the exception of House Name). In fact I downloaded Echos just yesterday. The Kindle will allow you to read in direct sunlight (I spend a lot of time at the beach while my hubby surfs) and it’s easy on the eyes (especially if you sit in front of a computer for work). I am disappointed that there is no expansion memory but I have had my Kindle for two years and haven’t gotten close to using all the memory. I also love the Kindle App for my iPhone. It will sync up to my last read place (as long as the wifi is on), so i can pick up where I left off on my phone, if I left my Kindle home. Oh and some publishers have allowed customers to “loan” Kindle ebooks to friends for two weeks

    From what I understand, Amazon currently has the largest ebook selection. So, that’s a plus. The one annoying thing is that it doesn’t read the ePub format. But since I have an iPhone I have downloaded the Overdrive Media app and have been able to “borrow” ebooks from my local library.

    Reply

  14. Hilda
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 09:50:36

    Michelle, and all of you readers, you are a hundred times more knowledgeable on e-readers than any salesman of Nook and Kindle I have found. That includes Amazon to whom I sent messages asking for information and did not answer ( they do, however, send me messages trying to sell the Kindle). Thanks to all. Hopefully, I will have one of those e readers before Ruins comes out.

    Reply

  15. technomom
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 16:56:15

    Hilda, we have reason to educate ourselves, because we’re making a significant investment in time, money, or both, and we generally love books.

    Salespeople just want to sell whatever they’re getting the best commission on or have the most of on the shelves right now, period. Also, and many of them don’t get any education from their employers, or a chance to actually use the products they’re selling.

    When I was at Barnes & Noble the evening we purchased my Nook, there was a booth at the front of the store, so that every customer was confronted with the Nooks on display (with all their accessories) upon entering the store. All of the staffers were taking turns leaping upon anyone who so much as glanced towards the display (nearly impossible to avoid, of course). My partner and I spoke to several of them, including the assistant manager who was in charge at the time, and not one of them had any true familiarity with the Nook (or any other platform, as far as I could tell) beyond the scripts they’d been given.

    Reply

  16. shauntel
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:25:59

    I don’t know much about the Nook, but I have more info on Kindle. The word size can be adjusted (very large). PDF files can be read on kindle, word documents, text documents (and others), one of the other items is that it has a generic voice that will read any document or book to you. This feature is nice for my niece she gets tired of reading but wants to finish the book she’ll turn on the audio. Also she uses it for some of her papers, to have it read to her to check it over for mistakes. (The voice is very very generic)

    Batterie life, sometimes I go on reading spree’s and I can read for 6-10 hours straight. If I do this with the kindle I do not have to charge during this time frame, and i still have plenty of power to continue longer.

    I appreciate the information about readers, I give them as gifts to family. Thank you.

    Reply

  17. Cynthia Steele
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 08:37:45

    Theresa,

    I am also an avid Kindle reader. First I should point out that I am not a fan of the other e-reader options, simply because I am quite pleased with my Kindle. I did lots of research when I first purchased my Kindle, and for my purposes, the Kindle was *my* best choice. A lot of your purchase decisions as far as ebook readers goes will depend on what your preferences are.

    Secondly, you were bummed about the Kindle not reading the Epub format. *smiles* My dear, please allow me to introduce you to Calibre. http://calibre-ebook.com/download_windows

    Calibre is a wonderful program I use when I can find a book cheapest in a format that is not really supported by my kindle. I purchase, download to my pc, load it into Calibre, and convert it to a Kindle acceptable format. This process is only a matter of seconds, and if you have your Kindle attached via the USB cable to your computer, Calibre will also load it onto your device with just a click of a button. It will also help you keep all such books organized in your Calibre library. :> Very handy since you can only purchase some books in certain formats, but you want them on your Kindle or Nook or whatever you’re using. This program will convert pretty much to any preferred ereader format.

    I hope this helps and I am wishing you many happy days with your Kindle! Happy reading all you Ereaders!

    Reply

  18. Derek
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 09:15:30

    I’m still on the fence regarding which e-reader to purchase. I really like the 3G / Wifi version of the Kindle 3, yet as a Canadian I’m quite concerned about lack of content on Amazon.com, for non-U.S.A. residents.

    I understand that I can purchase e-books from other websites, i.e. Barnes&Noble or Chapters, yet don’t most of these e-books have DRM? If so, Calibre won’t be able to help me.
    I’m sure there are ways to strip off the DRM, prior to converting with Calibre yet that sounds like a royal hassle, unless other Canadians here have advise?

    Note, I tried out the Kobo touch @ Chapters yesterday, I really didn’t like the touch screen.

    Reply

    • technomom
      Aug 03, 2011 @ 12:16:25

      DRM is easy to remove when you want to do it – there are even Calibre plugins to do it in one step. They were not created by the Calibre programmer, and you won’t find them in the official Calibre forums, but they’re easy to find with a Google search nonetheless.

      They were created by people who believe, as I do, that when you buy an ebook you should be able to read it on any sort of hardware you like without having to buy it over and over again. (I’m not a programmer, myself, but I appreciate the work of those who are.)

      Reply

  19. Hugh S. Myers
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 10:15:18

    First thing is to pick one you like. Second thing is to wait until the things you don’t like are driven away by market pressure. Even now DRM (restraint of trade is always a stupid idea—someone hands you money and you say no? Dumb!) is on its last legs. If not legally then certainly otherwise. At some point, even the pointy haired bosses at many of the big publishers will remember that their job is to sell books, not to play with schemes that grant them a very short term gain in exchange for a long term loss. Personally, availability of the titles you want is VERY important. If you want to look a head and bet on technology, you might think about how much Jeff Bezos has in his R&D money box. Likewise remember that there are software versions of Kindle and probably by now a few others. I have 3 on my ‘reading’ machine and they pretty much cover the waterfront as far as format goes. Look around, ask around, pick. The price will continue to drop, so the penalty for picking ‘wrong’ will continue to be less and less as well. Good Luck!

    Reply

  20. Derek
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 09:44:00

    Thanks Technomom and Hugh. Looks like Plugins for Calibre make the process easier. I have also heard that if you ‘Manage Your Kindle’ and set your country to United States and type in a random USA address, that anyone can have full access to Amazon.com books. I’m not sure if that’s true, but at least I now know there are some alternatives.

    Reply

  21. R. Cottrell
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 22:33:57

    I have been diligently checking this site for updates on ebook releases, especially the Sunsword series. Being Canadian I have access to both Kobo and Kindle (from the US) but there doesn’t seem to be any source that has all 8 books in the series in Ebook format. In your news, you made a comment a little over a year ago indicating that your books were about 4 weeks out from conversion and availability. Has this changed? Have you considered self publishing through Amazon (assuming your publisher allows it)? I would quite happily purchase the books again for my tablet but unless I can get the entire series, it is moot. Here is hoping a year later good news is pending :)

    Reply

  22. Roberta Kelly
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 12:13:54

    I agree. I have been diligently waiting for these to come out as e-books so that I can read the rest of the house war series.

    Reply

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