E-Books Are Going Mainstream

Love them or hate them, the future is here.

[This post was originally written as an introduction to eBooks on our website, January 2009.]

As frequent visitors know, our website is a full service site made possible by the American Booksellers Association. Cool updates happen frequently in the background, and the biggest change lately is that more and more books are available on www.nantucketbookworks.com as E-Books, in three different formats, to be downloaded for use in a variety of devices.

I feel really strongly that an ostrich-like approach to digitization is not going to get booksellers anywhere, and I confess that I am a technophile who loves to have the latest and greatest gadgets. Thus, I am now buying reading devices as fast as they come on the market. I’ve had a Sony eReader, I have an iPhone, and I’m waiting on my new Kindle (read on for more thoughts on that). They say one should know thine enemy…

First, the Sony eReader. I have to say I was unimpressed with it. A dim screen, pesky cord, mono-chromatic display, complicated delivery sync system, and an annoying reverse-image flash with each refresh were all strikes against this gizmo. Much more versatile is the ubiquitous iPhone… after some resistance, I drank the Kool-Aid as they say, and now I’m a huge fan. The screen is small, but it’s backlit There are several readers available, and we’re so pleased that you can purchase books from us. I won’t lie–it’s a little tricky, but huzzah it can be done.

To get books from our Bookworks site to your iPhone, you’ll need the eReader App on your phone and you’ll download your content in the Palm eReader format. Follow the instructions on the help pages to sync it all correctly. (It took a little effort at first for me, but the second time was a charm.)

As far as which titles are available, you can click on “Advanced Search” and search by format, or you can just look up a title you’re interested in and see the formats available. Prices (for now) are generally the same as they are for the physical book, so new books in hardcover cost more, though that is all being evaluated by the publishing industry on a daily basis, so stay tuned.

We hope there will always be a place for physical books (and we hope that Bookworks will always be around to be one of the places you like to get them!) but as the world evolves, and as we try to reduce our dependence on scarce resources and oil-based transportation, electronic means of delivery start to make more sense. Heresy or prophecy? You be the judge.

One other comment about eReader devices – I just ordered a Kindle from Amazon, which from many accounts (Oprah, Martha Stewart, Tom McGlinn) is the best of the bunch. The problem with that is that the content must be purchased from Amazon, locking the rest of us (including Borders and B&N, who are struggling big-time) out of the picture. This is very bad news for the industry, but like Apple perhaps they’ll move to open up the DRM/digital rights management. We shall see.

Crazy times to be an independent bookseller, but if indies can marry the convenience of digital downloads with the desire of our customers to support us locals, perhaps this could be a silver-lined cloud after all.

-Wendy Hudson


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