Monday, December 28, 2009

To e-book or not to e-book

Taunting my mother has its perks, like being able to taunt her at all. She has so much already that it's hard to find something that gets to her. Yes, it's a silly game, but it's a game all the same. Taunting her about gifts is easy, and I do that with everyone when I have their gift far ahead of time. Makes the waiting easier. I found, however, a new way to taunt Mom, a short term perk: baked goods. Not just any baked goods, but homemade, ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls with rich vanilla-laden icing, also homemade.

When Mom called Saturday afternoon, I was waiting for the dough to rise. She asked me what I was doing and I told her, "Making cinnamon rolls." She wouldn't do anything like that unless it came in a tube from the dairy section at the grocery store, or better yet from the bakery already to eat. She doesn't understand why I like to bake bread and rolls and cook at all. "Nobody here but me eats," she complains, and then tells me her chihuahua Dink is getting fat from eating the same things that Mom eats. Mom has so many preservatives and GMO foods in her that she'd probably die if she didn't eat all that junk, but the dog doesn't have nearly 80 years of junk food in her. Dink's not even three years old yet, and that's barely 21 in dog years.

When the cinnamon rolls were finished and sending their sweet spicy aroma throughout the house, I called Mom just as I sat down with one still hot from the pan. "Guess what I'm eating?" She guessed, called me a few names best not repeated. "You'll eat the whole thing," she complained.

"Uh, no, I won't. I'm having one and the rest are for the coming days."

"How can you eat just one?"

"Easily. By stopping when I'm finished and leaving the rest for tomorrow and the other days." Mom has no control, as evidenced by her recent binge on circus peanuts when she ate three bags a day for weeks.

Here it is Monday morning and there are still cinnamon rolls in the pan. I already had one when I got up this morning. Mom always said I had no will power. I guess I still don't.

But it's Monday and the three day weekend is over and I must go back to work for four more days before I get another break. As much as I love the holidays, I have to say that the planning is off. There should be at least one three day weekend in every month, paid for of course by my employer. At least there will be an extra week of vacation this year as I celebrate my fifth year of employment with my employer in February. Three whole weeks of vacation and four extra days (two personal days and two floating holidays). I think I can do something with that.

One thing I'll be doing this week is deciding if I want to break down and get an e-reader. I really don't see the need since I don't go out that much and have plenty of books here, but the idea of having a lot of books and not having to wait for them or pay shipping and handling does have it's up side. Beanie got a Sony Pocket eReader for Xmas and we spent a good part of the weekend trying to figure it out. I found the customer service number and had her call them to get her started and then we spent yesterday looking at books and figuring out why an e-book costs so much money when there's no paper and no cover. It's a subject that has consumed several writers and readers over the past year or so.

It makes no sense to price an e-book at the same or slightly discounted price as a hardback book. It doesn't even make sense to price it the same as a paperback. There is no huge cost of production or formatting since that is all part of the package when the book is initially published and the book should be priced accordingly. Yes, a small price would net smaller profits, at least on the surface, but in the long run it's a question of selling a book for a thousand dollars or a thousand books for one dollar. The outcome is the same, but the numbers reached are significantly more. Keep pricing books in that range and there will be a path beaten to the e-bookstore to buy even more books. In a strapped economy with technology like makes books portable and fairly easy to read, it makes more sense to price the books lower and therefore sell more books. It would also make more sense to get the old back list out and bundle them to revitalize sales and keep readers coming back. If the price makes it possible to buy one hundred books as opposed to buy three or four, what would the bottom line look like then? Common sense and good fiscal sense. One day publishers will figure that out.

I don't need a lot of bells and whistles or Internet capabilities. I have a laptop and a desktop PC for that. I do need a reader that is efficient, easy to read and use and doesn't cost a lot. I can't afford to spend two hundred dollars or more for what is basically a small library. I'd rather spend the money on books, which is why I looked at the 1150 offered by Barnes & Noble. The reviews are good and, even though the 1150 is the Cybook remastered and retooled, the price is right at $89.95. I might be able to swing that and a few books. The only hangup I see is in the book pricing.

Beanie and I looked at some James Patterson books, specifically his science fiction trilogy. The Lake House was priced at the hardback price and it's seven years old. Come on B&N, even though you offer an instant discount that takes the book down into the five dollar range, it's still over priced, and your scheme of leaving the rebate on the books to buy other books, is too much like accounting and bait & switch for my taste. Read the above and consider a different sales tactic, like pricing the book at two or three dollars and bundling it with the rest of the series for under ten dollars. That would make more sense and you'd find more readers with e-book technology coming back for more until Amazon would be worried about their sales and follow suit. Someone has to lead the pack, so why not Barnes & Noble for a change?

Oh, well, technology is a big part of my life these days and on that note I will sign off, shower, change and begin another day while I decide whether this whole e-book technology is for me or not. I have plenty of paperback and hardback books to keep me company after the holiday haul, so I'm not hurting for reading material.

That is all. Disperse.

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