Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why aren't YOU buying ebooks?

Ebooks sales have declined over the last two years. While Castalia has been growing 100 percent year-on-year for more than six straight months, we have seen our ebook sales decline in April, possibly because we haven't released anything new in ebook - although John C. Wright's City Beyond Time is now available in trade paperback.
Britons are abandoning the ebook at an alarming rate with sales of consumer titles down almost a fifth last year, as “screen fatigue” helped fuel a five-year high in printed book sales. Sales of consumer ebooks plunged 17% to £204m last year, the lowest level since 2011 – the year the ebook craze took off as Jeff Bezos’ market-dominating Amazon Kindle took the UK by storm.

It is the second year running that sales of consumer ebooks – the biggest segment of the £538m ebook market, which fell 3% last year – have slumped as commuters, holidaymakers and leisure readers shelve digital editions in favour of good old fashioned print novels.

“I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens,” says Stephen Lotinga, chief exeutive of the Publishers Association, which published its annual yearbook on Thursday.

“There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”

Sales of consumer ebooks hit a high water mark of £275m in 2014, when they accounted for half of the overall ebook market. The decline in consumer ebooks has been led by a slump in sales of the most popular segment, fiction, which plummeted 16% to £165m last year.
Are we putting out too many books too fast? Are we not putting out enough new books? Is it hatred for Amazon? More than enough Kindle Unlimited? Or are people simply getting tired of reading books on screen? While we've seen growth on the print side, it's not enough to support the theory that people are switching from ebook to print.

This is not a complaint, you understand. We are profoundly grateful for the staunch support we have enjoyed from Castalia House's readers, and we are striving to improve our catalog as it grows. Not every book is going to be a great one, but I believe that our percentage of "yes, that book was worth reading and I'm glad I read it" is relatively high for the publishing industry.

Anyhow, if you haven't delved into Selenoth yet, perhaps Didact Reach's reaction to A Sea of Skulls will convince you to do so:
Having read through your superb new book, A Sea of Skulls, right at the tail end of last year, I found myself left with more than a few questions as to how the overall plot of the Arts of Dark and Light series tied together. And so I went back and re-read A Throne of Bones last week, which I had reviewed back when it was released, to fill in my remaining gaps in memory.

I was truly delighted to find that the first book was actually even better after reading its sequel, four years later. Having finished it off, I went through ASOS again in fairly record time as well, and am now fully convinced that what you have created will stand the test of time as one of the best high-fantasy series ever written. I stand by my opinion that you have surpassed George Rape Rape Martin and left him panting and wheezing in the dust.
Overwrought and excessive praise from a fanboy? Or well-merited approbation? There is really only one way to find out.

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Anonymous Anonymous April 30, 2017 6:53 AM  

I have been reading less books of late, with a few sitting bedside unfinished at any one time. Part of it may be simply that I am reading so much online - short form largely - that my 'reading' is somewhat done. Could be that my tastes and time use are changing as I age; young family and whatnot.

Anonymous Patron April 30, 2017 6:56 AM  

I don't think anyone in my family has screen fatigue (or w/e you want to call it), but then we have Kindles for reading, which don't tend to light up whole rooms when the screen is on, unlike most tablets or smart phones. eBooks have some flaws for me (mostly related to displaying images like fantasy world maps), but the only physical books I get these days are picture-heavy ones (be it an xkcd one or a nice thick history tome).

As an aside, just bought both your Art of Dark & Light books on Kindle, so looking forwards to them once I'm done with Robinson Crusoe.

Blogger BriarRabbit April 30, 2017 6:59 AM  

I have gotten to where I don't use social media as much. Because I'm intelligent. And I have a temper.

So I've gotten to reading a few blogs then setting the devices down for a real book. Ink and paper. I grew up on them and love them.

Buying an ebook doesn't feel as if I am buying a real book. I only do it when I need to digest the information and it's the most cost effective way to get it.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 April 30, 2017 7:03 AM  

I've been having trouble finding books worth reading. A lot of the stuff I've bought in the last couple of years have been older books - though I did enjoy Corroding Empire.

That said, I'm thinking of buying another of the reading Kindles, because he one I have does annoy me a bit with the screen glare.

Blogger Koanic April 30, 2017 7:06 AM  

I seriously doubt that people are spending less time on screens.

Books are an obsolete medium. They are likely being replaced by other online textual mediums, and the online video explosion.

Anonymous Anonymous April 30, 2017 7:11 AM  

I don't read physical copies anymore. I read everything on kindle. More convenient, don't have to go into town for a bookstore which takes ages, and ability to store lots of books when travelling/on holiday. I agree with other comments that good sci-fi/fantasy books are hard to find. You have to wade through alot of Young Adult stuff, etc.

Blogger Cinco April 30, 2017 7:14 AM  

I know the reason I stopped going to the movies was because of the "ass and trash" that invaded the big screen and was marketed well.

I think ebooks are suffering from the same disease: an oversupply of terrible books, is reducing the overall demand as people now associate all books with being bad.

Anonymous Ray Maddon April 30, 2017 7:14 AM  

I just found out about you guys 2 months ago, gone through 12 of your books in that time as well as some john c wright stuff published by others. I really enjoy the ebook format for 2 main reasons: its cheaper, and there is instant gratification, if i see something i like i can be reading it within 5 minutes. That being said, I'd be interested in some new books as i think im starting to reach diminishing marginal returns on the current Castalia House selection.

Anonymous Philipp April 30, 2017 7:18 AM  

I prefer to read books in print. I have bought Cuckservatives, SJW Always Lie, 4th Generation Warefare Handbook and The Missionaries as paperbacks.

I also read ebooks. I bought the Arts of Dark and Light books as ebooks. But I prefer print.

Blogger Junius Stone April 30, 2017 7:19 AM  

I don't do ebooks. Never have, never will.

Blogger Koanic April 30, 2017 7:22 AM  

It could also be that there is a lower demand for escapist fantasy with the rise of nationalism and the first signs of open battle.

Perhaps people are putting away childish things.

Blogger Nara April 30, 2017 7:23 AM  

I used to choose the ebook format for my books simply because it was cheaper, but then I found I was reading for shorter periods of time and at increasingly inconsitent intervals. I also missed being able to display the book and admire its cover art.

I've switched back to reading physical copies now and it's become a nightly ritual. I'll be sticking with this format moving forward.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 7:27 AM  

It could also be that there is a lower demand for escapist fantasy with the rise of nationalism and the first signs of open battle.

We have not seen a concomitant increase in demand for books such as SJWAL, Cuckservative, and 4GW Handbook, so that is unlikely.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 30, 2017 7:29 AM  

Don't believe their BS Vox, they're just papering over the fact that the demographic of people who read for fun is nosediving. It's not just screens, signally white people are fatigued in general from politics and are retreating to television.

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 7:30 AM  

" . . . Robinson Crusoe . . ."

"I've been having trouble finding books worth reading."

De Foe, Scott, London, Conrad, Sabatini, Swift, Kipling, Burton, Cooper, Chesterton, Doyle, Greeks, Romans and countryman.

My Kindle is loading up with stuff worth reading (and reading again), from Project Gutenberg.

If you want me to read more recent old books, say Christie and Van Gulick, stop charging current print prices for old catalog, or I'll just hit up the used book stores and garage sales.

Oh, and get Mojo Mori to do that some more.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 30, 2017 7:31 AM  

VD wrote:It could also be that there is a lower demand for escapist fantasy with the rise of nationalism and the first signs of open battle.

We have not seen a concomitant increase in demand for books such as SJWAL, Cuckservative, and 4GW Handbook, so that is unlikely.

The people who read Harry Potter and the Hunger Games are not the same as the people who read Malcolm Gladwell are not the same as the people who read SJWAL.

Anonymous Sub April 30, 2017 7:32 AM  

I think @9 has a good point about the quality of the overall pool of ebooks, it feels like a chore to dig through all of the crap on Amazon to find a decent read instead of dinovampire rape fanfiction. The Amazon bargain bin is full of authors who have no business writing novels, although occasionally there are gems in there.

Another factor that doesn't apply to Castalia is the absurd pricing structure attached to many ebooks by big name authors. I'm not going to pay hardback prices for a digital copy of something, so the big publishers won't be getting a sale from me until those electrons hit a price appropriate to the format.

Blogger tuberman April 30, 2017 7:32 AM  

Some time in the next week or two I will pick up a couple of John Wright's books in e-book form, nonfiction I will get in print form.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 30, 2017 7:33 AM  

I'm not buying books because I got a grownup job and I'm still working the old job, which makes for 60-hour weeks. Typically I'd read four books per month but I'm down to one.

Blogger FSL April 30, 2017 7:38 AM  

April is the beginning of enjoyable warm weather in most Anglophone countries and Europe. Maybe people are just enjoying other activities, in which case things should uptick again come October.

I also admit for myself it can be difficult to start up a new series, especially if the old characters I came to enjoy are not present. I always buy Selenoth and QM releases, and I will definitely buy Wright's next Somewhither book. Also, I happen to be pleasure reading some Roman History at the moment. Is it possible these declining sales simply represent an anomaly?

Blogger Jimmy Glover April 30, 2017 7:39 AM  

Younger people tend toward video. It is interesting that even at my age, I'm also trending that way. And if is also that my reading was Heinlein, Varley, Cherryh, Bester, Ellison, etc. I find very few like that now, so my reading has declined.

And I depise preaching as the point of a story. From either side.

Blogger Jack Ward April 30, 2017 7:43 AM  

Any time frame for the finished, extended edition [ebook] for a Sea Of Skulls?
Looking forward to reading it again but want the full length book you envisioned.
Agree with the rants about having to wade through so much crap. I usually just stick to Castalia, and reccos from this blog.
Screen glare from Kindle? Get the Kindle paperwhite that allows light level adjust. If anything, the internal light combined with eink has given my old eyes new life and allowed more reading than I could otherwise do.
Keep up the skeer...

Blogger FSL April 30, 2017 7:43 AM  

Oh yeah, also possible: cumulative effect of real Americans taking advantage of the god-emperor's economic boom, which I'll bet has fewer "shovel-ready" and more I-can-actually-support-a-wife-and-three-kids-if-we-economize jobs, so less reading time, lots of Aeoli Peras. If this is the case we'd expect the downtick in your sales to be relatively confined to USA.

Blogger Midnight Avenue J April 30, 2017 7:43 AM  

Sub hit the nail.

Quality isn't a problem with Castalia, nor is price a huge factor for me, but many Kindle books are priced too high and the KU service is increasingly less valuable to me as some of the books I want to read are not available, and what is a available is often really bad.

I don't mind reading on the Kindle but I do prefer print. I use Amazon exclusively for ebook purchases because when I try to covert books from other formats it gets royally fouled up.

On that note, any other ebook apps I can use that don't require fancy conversion methods? I'd buy directly from the CH store if I could.

Anonymous Luke April 30, 2017 7:48 AM  

I stopped buying ebooks for 3 reasons:

1) I'm broke, making 40% of what I was making 3 years ago, doing the same work as many hours.

2) Both my Kindles broke (they're far too fragile IMO), and I can't afford to replace them.

3) The books I most want, are ones I would (after reading) put aside in a box for my kids when they get older, or are out of print.

Blogger Emmett Fitz-Hume April 30, 2017 7:48 AM  

See, and here I thought I was the only one.

After roughly two years of consuming nearly my entire reading 'diet' in eBook form (still a huge John C. Wright fan), I believe I have felt the fatigue that this article mentions.

And for budgetary reasons, for physical 'dead tree' format necessitates less consumption: they cost much more than eBooks (usually, anyway: there are exceptions).

Some more detail regarding the factors that have already touched on:

1) Quality: While Castalia's products are excellent, most other eBooks are not. By a wide, wide margin. If I exclude Castalia and my other favorite publishers (Baen, Orbit and Abaddon), finding good stuff to read has become labor intensive. The signal to noise ratio is changing and not necessarily in the reader's favor.

2) I can't explain the 'Fatigue' factor except to say I suddenly found myself craving a physical book with turnable pages again. Not sure why.

3) Cost: I don't think it has penetrated the thick skull of the big publishers yet (and people 'In The Know' can spare me the explanations: I've already heard them from people in the industry): Everytime I find an eBook from a Mainstream publisher and I see the price I think, "For that kind of money, I might as well buy a hard copy."

eBook pricing is still quite unrealistic as far as the big names are concerned.

Why on earth am I going to 10 dollars or more for an electronic copy of a book? (Especially SJW's running rampant in the industry) Sorry. That price is guaranteed to drive me to the library. Or save my money and buy less books so I can get the hard copies.

For demographic purposes:

Male, Married, Two children
Job: Law Enforcement

Anonymous Jeff April 30, 2017 7:49 AM  

I buy mostly ebooks but will go paper if I think I'm going to refer back to it often. My purchases of both have indeed slowed of late due to a backlog of previous purchases. Currently reading "City Beyond Time". Next up "A History of the Byzantine Empire" and "Equality".

That said, I will be purchasing SJWADD as soon it comes out. And I will buy that one in print.

Blogger Koanic April 30, 2017 7:49 AM  

Perhaps it is not childish things they are giving up, but the patient leisure to read books, in favor of a irascible activity exemplified by Kyle Chapman's disdain of keyboard warriors, which presumably extends to intellectual pursuits.

Blogger Midnight Avenue J April 30, 2017 7:52 AM  

@18, similar here. Fiction I'll buy in ebook, but anything nonfiction I like hard copies.

Some publishers haven't figured out how to format ebook cookbooks for navigation. Also, if I make notes in a paper book, it's far easier for me to put a post it, highlight a passage, and jot my note down. Using the drag and highlight, bookmark, type-a-note feature on Kindle is more time consuming believe it or not.

Perhaps once we break away from QWERTY keyboards to a format that accommodates one finger typing, the process will be less tedious.

Blogger Eric Mueller April 30, 2017 7:56 AM  

I have about 950+ Kindle books, and God knows how many pdfs and epubs. Probably thousands put together, plus the books on my shelves.

I hear a lot of people saying "I just like to hold a book in my hands". I don't know if that's an actual preference, or if they're just parroting something. People like to parrot.

In my case, I read in fits and starts. I might plow through 5-10 books in a few weeks, then trail off for a few months. It just has to do with time and focus. One thing I like about Kindle is I can access the reading app online at work when I have time, and keep up somewhat.

I prefer eBooks, partly for portability and anonymity. Most of the books I read are books I don't want the general public to know I'm reading, and nobody knows what book is up on my phone. But I'm also pretty much out of bookshelf space, leaving eBooks as an option. I only buy a physical book when there is no other option and I have to have it.

Blogger Joe A. April 30, 2017 7:59 AM  

It's much easier to focus while reading a physical book (for me). It's also more satisfying to own. Castalia House's catalog is top-notch with impressive variety, however, so I don't think that its offerings are lacking by any means.

Anonymous Anonymous April 30, 2017 8:00 AM  

I have to admit - I try to read as few books in electronic format as possible. I just prefer books on dead tree, and I have enough of them available between my own personal library and access to a large university library through my alumni membership that I only rarely would need to read a book in *any* electronic format.

Anonymous Mycroft Jones April 30, 2017 8:02 AM  

The books I buy now I tend to plow through in a couple hours, or else they take weeks and months to properly absorb. Between work and family, the time I used to spend reading books is now mostly reading blogs and watching youtube. Hardly even have time for email. And the rest of my circle is even worse off, sucked in by Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Less time to read books. I'm thinking of instituting a cell phone ban in the house, perhaps between the hours of 6pm and 8am.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 8:03 AM  

Is it possible these declining sales simply represent an anomaly?

For us, yes. For the entire industry over two years, perhaps, but probably not.

Any time frame for the finished, extended edition [ebook] for a Sea Of Skulls?

It will be this year. It will not be this summer. Between the four games, SJWADD, and ARR, I'm just not making fast enough progress on it. But the progress that has been made is good. I can say that much for it.

Anonymous Bob Ramar April 30, 2017 8:04 AM  

"e-books" ... don't have a reader, don't need a reader, don't intend to purchase a reader.

Blogger JACIII April 30, 2017 8:08 AM  

It's springtime. We are all outside trying to get ahead of the the garden, the yard, the fence row, the house and any number of seasonal distractions.

Once the heat sets in folks will be looking to do something while hiding inside.

Blogger hideous April 30, 2017 8:18 AM  

I've gone to nearly 100% audiobooks.
Because of this I'm actually consuming more than I have in many years because of more "reading" opportunity (gym, runs/walks, commutes, yard work, bedtime).
How are Castalia's audio sales?

Anonymous roughcoat April 30, 2017 8:18 AM  

Can't afford to buy books right now. I would buy ebooks preferentially over paper, and I'd buy both if I could afford it.

I will agree most tradpub ebook prices are absurd, and since I know exactly what goes into making an ebook I know their excuses for the high prices are horseshit.

As it is, I'm using KU--which I'm finding increasingly painful, since it takes longer and longer to find decent fiction in the giant pile of shit, which is greatly exacerbated by Amazon's awful search system--or just reading books I already own. I'm thinking about getting a library card again too.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 8:19 AM  

How are Castalia's audio sales?

Solid, growing, but not spectacular. They provide about 8 percent of our unit sales.

Anonymous Sensei April 30, 2017 8:22 AM  

possibly because we haven't released anything new in ebook

This, for me. I had Castalia-withdrawals earlier in the month. Memory can be unreliable but I feel like there was a surge of several new books a little while back which I needed to time to get through then nothing for a while. Anything new from Vox, Wright, or certain of the other Castalia authors gets bought by default. I'm extremely busy these days so those are at the top of the list, then I supplement with other books as I have time. All ebook, I don't have physical space for the number of books I run through every year and live in a place where English books are more troublesome and expensive to obtain if they're not either artsy or from the big mainstream publishers.

Anonymous Steve April 30, 2017 8:23 AM  

I read more books than ever since Mrs Steve bought me a Kindle. It's a marvellous device and the Amazon shopfront is great, though I wish they'd get rid of the BBW PARANORMAL BILLIONAIRE FIREMAN ROMANCE crapware clogging up the SF bestsellers list.

I don't see any anecdotal evidence of screen fatigue in general. Reckon it's more about product.

Apparently the best selling author - by far - on Kindle is E.L. James and her SEXY BILLIONAIRE SEXY SEX DUNGEON series, but that concluded in 2012.

Stieg Larsson's books were very popular over the past few years, but it's not as if he can write more of those, on account of being dead.

Suzanne Collins' success with BATTLE ROYALE FOR GIRLS doesn't look like being repeated anytime soon.

G R R Martin hasn't released a new GoT novel in 6 years. He could roll a turd in glitter, call it THE DRAGON'S EGG, and it'd still sell millions of copies. But he's too busy eating nachos.

Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL was a massive hit, but her other works haven't generated nearly as much interest, far as I can tell.

So the UK bestsellers of 2016 were led by Harry Potter, but there hasn't been another big yuge breakout novel to get casual readers reaching for their one-click.

Anonymous Library Genesis Fan April 30, 2017 8:23 AM  

Why would I buy ebooks when I can get them for free at pirate sites like Library Genesis, which has 2 million ebooks?

I don't believe in intellectual property laws, same you don't believe in gay marriage laws or your jailbird old man doesn't believe in income tax laws.

I did enjoy the pirate copies of Castalia House books I got on Library Genesis however.

Between the Pirate Bay, Library Genesis, Demonoid, and so on, I haven't paid for a book, audiobook, ebook, movie, tv show, music album, cable subscription, since maybe 2004, and I saved well over 100 grand. And if someone disagrees with piracy, well, we will just have to agree to disagree, I love piracy... but as for the ebooks, if you Vox Day, can beat the price called 'free', that is, if you pay me to take your ebooks, I'll get them from you instead of Library Genesis... but I don't see that happening, sorry.

Here are some FREE Castalia House ebooks,

To the mods: I had a good laugh, that's all that matters to me. Don't care how long this comment is up, it was hilarious to me. LOL!

Blogger Koanic April 30, 2017 8:30 AM  

I'm happily reading James LaFond's oevre on Kindle Unlimited, which is simply his blog posts arranged by topic into books, with select comment exchanges.

Blogger Cataline Sergius April 30, 2017 8:34 AM  

My Scientific Wild A$$ Guess, is that it's a confluence of factors that have left the majors hardest hit.

Part of it, is that there was an initial gold rush and the river is now panned out. But that market is likely to come back long term.

Part of it is a marketing shift. Nobody is bothering with $0.99 books at this point. You either leave it at three bucks or put it on KU. Either way there is going to be a sales decline.

And like the article said, kid's books or to be exact books that parents read to kids will be paper for sometime. Cuddling up with the little ones in bed and firing up Kindle has little appeal.

Part of it is that Millennials love themselves some free shit and there are plenty of pirate sites for books now.

And then there is the technological shift. My Kindle died this year and I have no intention of replacing it.

Because I don't need to.

My phone does the job just as well as the Kindle did, in fact it has a lot more memory. I also have the Kindle app on my lap top and on my media computer. Yes, I am now mostly using my TV to read books. Although I'm not sure how that would account for lower sales.

Blogger Bodo Staron April 30, 2017 8:40 AM  

It's very simple: Time constraints. I remember growing up, I had a book with me everywhere I went. I spent every minute reading. Now there are other things to do, and many other media to enjoy. I can't multitask and listen to 1.5 hours of Stefan Molyneux and read a book at the same time.

Anonymous MIG April 30, 2017 8:42 AM  

I buy ebooks when I am in a hurry to read it and can't wait to have it shipped. When I hear or read about something that excites me, I can't wait to read it. I must read it right now.

However it is easier to read a real book with pages,when it's easy to flip back and forth and it's easier to orient oneself within it and thus easier to absorb the material.

Anonymous Be Deplorable, Not Afraid April 30, 2017 8:42 AM  

After getting rid of hundreds of paperbacks and hardbacks in my life due to lack of space, about the only paper books I buy are reference books or such that I know I'm just going to keep.

I read ebooks on my kindle every single day; right now I'm working through one of the old "There Will Be War" anthologies. I read maybe 20% education, 80% escapist---can't spend my whole life in the sad morass that is the world today. But I'm waiting for new Kratman, Correia, Cole... hoping for more Stars Came Back--please?, for more by Walker (his juvie SF is great!), Ringo...

I gather Amazon has been working on their DRM, and that makes me nervous. Tried to transfer an iTunes album to my stupid Android phone last night, and couldn't; I hadn't upgraded the iTunes music to iTunes+, now it's too late, and I had to buy the thing again on Amazon---Apple can go to hell. If we get to the point that the Amazon DRM becomes uncrackable, my reading will drop way off, as I won't let Amazon just "turn off" my books when Bezos cracks down on Badthink. In fact, I think tonight will be spent with Calibre while I still can...

Blogger Matthew April 30, 2017 8:43 AM  

Library Genesis Fan wrote:To the mods: I had a good laugh, that's all that matters to me. Don't care how long this comment is up, it was hilarious to me. LOL!

SJWs always laugh.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 8:48 AM  

Here are some FREE Castalia House ebooks

It's amusing that a troll would think that the concept of piracy is going to upset a game designer.

It's when no one bothers to pirate you that you've got a problem.

Blogger Cataline Sergius April 30, 2017 8:49 AM  


Does Castalia's readership skew more heavily towards men?

Seventy percent of the readership market in general is female. Which indicates that there must have been some kind of shift there as well.

If Castalia's sales have been unaffected that might be part of the answer.

Blogger D.J. April 30, 2017 8:50 AM  

I blew my entertainment budget for April and May on games. In June I'll be getting back to e-books.

Looking forward to Moth and Cobweb in paperback as well.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable April 30, 2017 8:52 AM  

With Castalia, I've gotten into the habit of ordering all the ebooks I'm interested in as soon as they come out. They're so reasonably priced I don't mind buying them twice. Then, with anything I deem a "keeper", I order the H/C or paperback when they become available. I find previewing them gives me an idea which ones I want to order and push on my various friends and acquaintances in need of red-pilling, SF or just good literature.

Which is to say, get that JCW hardcover of Moth and Cobweb out and I'll be ordering two on the spot.

Is it still most useful to you to order these from Castalia directly, or from Amazon?

Anonymous Marvin Boggs April 30, 2017 8:53 AM  

Representing myself, only, here are my thoughts on ebooks.

As I get older, I much prefer ebooks to dead-tree versions because:
a. I can change the font size (yes, this really matters to me greatly)
b. if/when I move, a 1 lb Kindle is much less effort than hundreds of pounds of paper books
c. ebooks are cheaper so I can buy more ebooks for a given budget than I can buy paper books.

Why don't I buy more ebooks?
1. A lot of the books I buy are technical books and graphics and code snippets do not fare well within the context of current ebook formats. In short, readability is not as good for technical ebooks as for technical paper books.
2. The price of ebooks has been creeping up, such that the difference between ebooks and paper books is often less than the tax I pay on said book.
3. There is a sensory value to paper books; the feel of the book in your hand, the smell of the paper.

Vox, hope these comments are of value to you. I love reading and I value a strong robust publishing industry.

Anonymous Lawyer Guy April 30, 2017 8:53 AM  

My wife and I are avid readers, about 5 books per week. We both sight read, which helps. We even bought paperwhites for outdoor reading in the summer.

Three reasons we buy less. 1. Many of the new and newer ebooks are insanely priced--publishers are charging like they have to print the books and support a chain of physical retail locations. That leads to 2. We are members of three library systems, each of which has overdrive subscriptions where we can reserve new books and download older ones. 3. Kindle Unlimited. It takes some digging to find gems but they are easy enough to check back in in favor of another try.

Also, I haven't read Tor for over two years, same reason as everyone else.

Blogger weka April 30, 2017 8:55 AM  

I now buy ebooks because I have no shelf space. What is on the shelf is generally curated... the very good stuff, in hardback.

Am moving to a Kobo ereader as soon as possible and epub to get around DRM. The signal/noise issue is huge. I used to walk out of bookshops with five to ten kilos of books. Now I cannot find much new worth reading.

Agree about project Gutenberg.

Anonymous VFM#0265 April 30, 2017 8:57 AM  

Just purchased ASOS, completing my Selenoth collection. Thank you, Vox!! I'll be sure to post a review on Amazon when finished.

Blogger Daniel April 30, 2017 8:59 AM  

Same here. Blogs.. Dota2... And no time for books

Blogger James Dixon April 30, 2017 9:03 AM  

> And if someone disagrees with piracy,

The liberals are always saying (by their actions if not their words) that politics is more important than anything else. Piracy is the political act of disagreeing with current copyright laws. How can they complain? Oh, but they will. Hypocrisy is a word they only know how to use on others.

Now, why am I not buying ebooks? I'm not buying anything. As with the above poster, my income has dropped by 1/3 from what it was a few years ago and I'm getting close to retirement age. I'm more worried about getting our finances in order for that than buying things. If I do want to read something there are more than enough public domain and free books available.

As for my wife, she has Kindle Unlimited, and otherwise has pretty much stopped reading fiction completely.

Now, as to the general case. a) It's springtime. People go outdoors more and don't read as much. b) As you noted, you haven't released any new ebooks this month. c) The major publishers are trying to price ebooks at the same price as (or in some cases an even higher price than) the physical book. Is it any wonder no one is buying them? d) The reading percentage of the population is declining as an inevitable side effect of the current immigration policies.

c) and d) don't affect Castalia House, though d) does set an upper limit on how large it can become. I'd say your drop is more a function of a) and b).

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable April 30, 2017 9:04 AM  

It's amusing that a troll would think that the concept of piracy is going to upset a game designer.

Exactly what I thought when I read his comment. Good grief, Castalia was BORN into a market already riddled with online piracy for a decade or more. If you thought it was a dealbreaker, you'd never have bothered.

Some of us old fuddy-duddies don't think about "intellectual property laws" and "Ooh! Free goodies!" We think about how to keep the people we like reading in business so we can enjoy more of their output.

Probably another millennial moron.

Anonymous BBGKB April 30, 2017 9:05 AM  

With the nice weather people are getting out more.

Why would I buy ebooks when I can get them for free at pirate sites like Library Genesis

I am ok with pirating movies because of how bad many of them are,& I wouldn't want to have to pay to see Dr Who's nigdyke companion seduce queen Victoria & Queen Boudicca either.

Anonymous Marvin Boggs April 30, 2017 9:06 AM  

Oh, I agree with @27: if I expect to want to keep a book and revisit it, I'll buy the print version. I read LoTR annually (Chronicles of Narnia, too), so I'm on my second set of print copies.

Actually, for really bad books, print copies have the advantage that you can toss them in the fireplace and watch them burn. I've done that twice - Redshirts and Webster's Dictionary (imply and infer are NOT synonyms).

Blogger Bob Tinsley April 30, 2017 9:08 AM  

The question is whether the decline in in ebooks overall or just the overpriced ebooks from the major publishers? A one month decrease in sales is not statistically significant.

Blogger roosh April 30, 2017 9:10 AM  

Outside of new book launches, I'm seeing a decline in ebook sales on Kindle and through direct sales. Since traffic to my web sites hasn't declined, I suspect that people are simply reading less and digesting online video/social content more. My best years were 2011-2013, when ebooks were new but smartphone screens were still small.

Blogger EasyCompany April 30, 2017 9:11 AM  

It's the damn prices.

I'm really into PAW fiction and it has to be the most over priced ebooks there are.

The popular series can go for $10, $15, and towards $20 each. And that's in series that can be up to 10-15 books!

And too many authors take what should be a single book and chop it up to make even more money.

And even series that the authors no longer bother with are still sky high, in most cases.

Hell, beginners, with unedited books, that are 100 pages want $5 a book.

I thought ebooks were going to keep prices way cheaper than paper versions due to having not to be printed, shipped, or sold in book stores!?

A good chunk of the time, the paperback is the same of cheaper in price!

Anonymous Man of the Atom April 30, 2017 9:12 AM  

DRM from Amazon and other vendors moved me more to Gutenberg and other free sources, as well as to Castalia House and other non-DRM distributors. Plenty of good stuff to put onto my e-reader (have a couple cheap tablets with FBReader and Kindle Reader) without worrying what can be read if the distributor goes out of business (I'm a Denninger on Amazon, but gut-feel rather than reasoned). If Amazon continues with DRM-for-All, then I'll find other books to read, and my hardcopy purchases from them will also decline.

Big-5 prices on e-books are going up (not down) in my Amazon favorites list, and new offerings are even worse in most cases. I haven't added a new ebook there in a long time -- not paying $17 for electrons from a $15 book, so to me it's no surprise why Big-5 e-book sales are way off. No sale, Big-5.

I'm also not afraid to contact a publisher or author directly and attempt commerce. Economic downturns shift me more towards small business and individuals to better preserve my future options.

I buy paper if it is a needed reference book. Hardcopy is for art books and collector's editions, or a rare book. It is also for books that have high-detail drawings, mathematics, and/or tabular data (specially if page-to-page comparisons are required). Not many hardcopy purchases these days for various reasons. I love my physical book collection, but I like having the convenience of e-book, especially when traveling. One tablet, and a selection of hundreds of books.

No thought by the Guardian whether Old Publishing is working for a resurgence in the buggy whip, since maybe they see the cliff edge fast approaching? Maybe this is why the Guardian is engaging in a dream of "(Paper) Pulp Revolution".

Castalia's lineup and catalog, as well as their business outlook (Entertain the Reader Over All Else) will keep me coming back for their e-book offerings.

Anonymous Mr. Rational April 30, 2017 9:13 AM  

I've been reading more hard-covers lately, but they come from the library.  Going through a lot of Baen, mostly.  I'm re-reading "Ring of Fire II" and have III in the queue behind it.  I don't buy e-books because I don't have an e-reader and my laptop/desktop screen time is 120% subscribed.

Midnight Avenue J wrote:Perhaps once we break away from QWERTY keyboards to a format that accommodates one finger typing, the process will be less tedious.
Something like a Morse code keyer, where one side is dit and the other is dah?

Blogger 1337kestrel April 30, 2017 9:13 AM  

I believe I've seen a shift from piracy to paid consumption as steam, Netflix, 6 strikes etc. have come out. But it's true that young people are less anti-piracy and poor people are more prone to pirate stuff that they couldn't afford anyway. I actually don't believe in intellectual property either, but I support the artists I like so they'll keep producing.

Why less ebooks last month:
Spring anime season
New Netflix shows
More time reading politics
I also have a tendency to buy cheap used paperbacks if they're available. That's Big 5 published books.

Anonymous LurkingPuppy April 30, 2017 9:13 AM  

I blame Jeffro and A. Merritt.

Blogger wreckage April 30, 2017 9:14 AM  

I largely buy ebooks, because they are convenient. For reference works I buy hardback. The creeping increase in ebook prices is probably reducing my consumption. I don't expect a book for a dollar or anything even close, but when a paperback is cheaper, the ebook is too expensive.

Computer games and blogs have been a time sink for me for over a decade now, so they have little impact - in fact, finding John C Wright's journal, thence also the Appendix N Revival, thence also Castalia House, has probably increased my book consumption in the last couple of years.

Blogger wreckage April 30, 2017 9:16 AM  

@66, the legit providers finally figured out that the way to beat piracy was to be more convenient than piracy. Since I got Steam I haven't pirated a game. Too much effort. Prior to that I cracked DRM on everything I owned, and pirated much besides, because legit was so inconvenient and the "protections" even more so.

Good Old Games,, is also awesome for that, even providing a lot of stuff DRM free!

Blogger RC April 30, 2017 9:24 AM  

I am an e-book fan. I find them much easier to read, portability, full shelves, I can back them up, always have something to read, never a wasted moment (unless I choose to waste it), don't have to remember to pack books. I just read on my Surface which, I hate to admit, I find very useful.

I have been finding myself increasingly reading books out of copyright, books my grandparents should have had in their libraries, some real treasures there. Just read The Night Land and would never have done that but for Wright.

I have found excellent recos from the blog over the years. I read all CH non-fiction and a smattering of the fiction, a pattern highly likely to continue unabated.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 9:25 AM  

Is it still most useful to you to order these from Castalia directly, or from Amazon?

Castalia. But we have to put some of them on there; we had focused on Amazon until this month's slashing of affiliate revenue. It doesn't actually affect us much yet, but we have to regard it as a serious warning sign.

So, we'll be removing most of our books from Kindle Select and KU over the next three months. None of our new books will be Kindle Select.

Blogger IrishFarmer April 30, 2017 9:25 AM  

Economics and time. So boring temporary reasons that dont provide any insight, sorry.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 9:26 AM  

Outside of new book launches, I'm seeing a decline in ebook sales on Kindle and through direct sales. Since traffic to my web sites hasn't declined, I suspect that people are simply reading less and digesting online video/social content more.

Thanks, Roosh. Good to have the additional data.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 9:27 AM  

Economics and time. So boring temporary reasons that dont provide any insight, sorry.

It may be boring, but it still helps us understand what's happening.

Anonymous Stickwick April 30, 2017 9:28 AM  

I've cut back on ebooks. There was an initial novelty of having lots and lots of books on a tiny device, but after a while, I wanted dead-tree books again. They feel good in your hands, they look good on your shelf, and, oddly, they're easier to go back to if you need to look something up.

Unless it's a book I absolutely must have, I now have difficulty choosing between ebook and dead-tree, and often end up buying neither, because I can't decide, and most of the time it's not worth the $$ to buy both.

However, with one book I wanted, Amazon offered me the Kindle version for some nominal price ($4, I think) if I bought the dead-tree, so I bought both. I loved that. If every book I wanted came with that offer, I'd be buying a LOT more books.

Blogger EasyCompany April 30, 2017 9:35 AM  

Another thing I have found is a lot of authors don't have a end for their books. One series I liked, Wasteland by Mann, has dragged on and became a girl power series.

Another is that too many have just too much cursing or turn into porn books.

I really wish that was a rating system for books.

Anonymous Avalanche April 30, 2017 9:38 AM  

My guess for Britain would be that:
1. moslems don't read and Britain is swamped by non-readers.
2. White Brits who DO read cannot afford the ebook tech, because they are staggering under the financial burdens of rapefugees, "migrants," and the genetic mistakes caused by inbreeding.
3. Since these stats probably don't count Castalia (or it's lost in the noise), they don't consider that the books on offer are NOT what people want to read.

I have to chuckle because since finding Vox and Castalia, I have read more ebooks that I have since the ebook was invented! I even 'had' to buy a Galaxy Tab S2, because my old Google Nexus 7 was no longer working well enough.

At first, I would roll my eyes because I preferred a paper book, but ordered the ebook when it was first because I wanted to read it (and thus, I happily have Cuckservative and 4GW and, of course, SJWAL in both forms). (Ah, instant gratification plus a keeper version!) (Plus a few others I can't remember right now.) I am working my way through "Innocence & Intellect, 2001-2005." I'm quite happy to have that in a feather-light version instead of a wrist-breaker! (Others, e.g., Corroding Empire, in ebook only. Amazing book!)

Audio books aren't for me -- I listen (many, many hours every day) to podcasts on a variety of subjects. (Cooking, cleaning, driving, doing brainless work in the MFG spaces, gardening... But I need audio files I don't need to follow for a long time. (The idea of a 20+-hour 'listen' to an actual book horrifies me.)

I'm entirely happy with what Castalia is doing. (Like so many, I'm desperately waiting for SJWADD (and its follow-on SJWAP) -- so, uh, maybe you could just give up sleep, Vox?)

Anonymous Roundtine April 30, 2017 9:38 AM  

I like ebooks and prefer it for entertainment reading. Castalia is a large percentage of my reading because if the favorable price point and consistently good work. I have never had loyalty to an imprint.

On the issue of screen fatigue, I often dream of chucking my smartphone off a high cliff or into the ocean.

Blogger tz April 30, 2017 9:41 AM  

I do either the read-to-me or audiobooks, but not Audible (I do - drm free). But with more podcasts, I don't have the time for as many books, and I need a real kindle for read-to-me last I checked. With any book, I'm going to wait until I'm ready to do the whole thing so I might have samples of longer books sitting for a long while.

I think there is a decay into video. Instead of writing, people do periscopes or you-tubes even if there is no interaction. It takes less effort and attention for bothmthe producer and consumer. A viceous cycle that is accelerating. A subtle dumbing down.

Anonymous AndrewV April 30, 2017 9:46 AM  

In the past year I've bought The Irrational Atheist, SJWs Always Lie, MAGA Mindset, and The Nine Laws in print but nothing in ebook. I've got an old 3g Kindle touch that I use here and there. There's nothing wrong with ebooks...I just really prefer print.

Maybe you could convince Quintus Curtius to write a few things for you? His new translation of On Duties (De Officiis) is fantastic and his essays are generally quite good. I'd love to see what the two of you cook up together.

Anonymous Avalanche April 30, 2017 9:50 AM  

@59 "I am ok with pirating movies because of how bad many of them are,& I wouldn't want to have to pay to see Dr Who's nigdyke companion seduce queen Victoria & Queen Boudicca either."

This, oh SO this! I'm actually DVRing Doctor Who, because I'm not sure I can stand to watch the new season. Granted the nigdyke is pretty close to being White; not nearly enough though...

Ever since 'they' filled Gallifrey with negro soldiers, and then the (cool White guy) head general regenerated into a negress (!!!!!) -- I am almost completely turned off. Really SAD -- but why can't Whites keep ANYthing that is ours alone?! (Although, I'd absolutely give up an all-White Doctor Who for an ALL-WHITE COUNTRY!!)

Blogger Unknown April 30, 2017 10:01 AM  

Second the recommendation upthread for Mojo Mori's "Six Expressions of Death." Rollicking samurai adventure, IMO.

Anyway, reasons for not reading as much lately:

1. Too much time spent working.
2. Too much time spent following politics.

Anonymous Panzer Man April 30, 2017 10:02 AM  

Second the recommendation upthread for Mojo Mori's "Six Expressions of Death." Rollicking samurai adventure, IMO.

Anyway, reasons for not reading as much lately:

1. Too much time spent working.
2. Too much time spent following politics.

Blogger James Dixon April 30, 2017 10:04 AM  

I should add to my comment above that both my wife and myself far prefer ebooks to dead tree versions, mostly because we already have more dead tree books than we really have room for (we're talking 5K+ books).

Anonymous MIG April 30, 2017 10:06 AM  

I ask myself very often why people read less fiction now than before. I think that one answer is that there is not much that feels relevant. People read more fiction when it felt like it captured something of the Zeitgeist. Now most of the stuff that is published feels stale and irrelevant to our real concerns and the spirit of the time.

Anonymous Avalanche April 30, 2017 10:06 AM  

@66 "I also have a tendency to buy cheap used paperbacks if they're available."

I struggle with this: I'm cheap (well, frugal) but I also want a pittance (such as the Big-5 provide) to go to the author. So, if the used version is within $3-4 of the new one, I'll buy the new one just to support the author. That's why I'm so happy with Castalia -- I KNOW the authors are supported!

I read once about the English? Euro? system whereby you can still buy a used book for cheaper -- but the sales is cataloged and 'attributed' to the author (don't remember: it might have been the publisher, but I'm pretty sure it was the author), and he gets a pittance of a pittance because his book "sold again." I expect it's a bad and corrupt system, but I really liked the idea of the author getting "second payment for a second sale"!

Anonymous Avalanche April 30, 2017 10:09 AM  

@71 (Vox:) "So, we'll be removing most of our books from Kindle Select and KU over the next three months. None of our new books will be Kindle Select.

BRAVAE! Alt Tech! Alt Tech! Alt Tech!!

Anonymous Broken Arrow April 30, 2017 10:11 AM  

I agree with Roosh. I find myself consuming more material through other media now than five to seven years ago when I read bought more eBooks. The content of the other media like Periscopes, YouTube channels, and blogs like CH has improved making it more attractive. Also, perhaps some of the novelty of eBooks has worn off?

Anonymous Avalanche April 30, 2017 10:12 AM  

@73 "I suspect that people are simply reading less and digesting online video/social content more."

I may be an outlier, but I am reading more and still barely dipping into video/social. I have been watching some of the antifa / Alt Right vids to keep up with what's going on, but mostly, I'd rather read or listen to a podcast (designed as a podcast; not merely audio of a video).

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar April 30, 2017 10:13 AM  

A couple of reasons. I don't usually buy ebooks because they seem to be hard on the eyes, and I want them to be portable. I am considering Paperwhite. But the second reason is the same reason that I haven't been buying digital music- I want to know that this property would be transferable to my kids. I want to be able to save my libraries on archive quality media and bequeath them to loved ones the same as can be done with vinyl. I don't believe that this issue has been settled. I want my investment to have lasting value.
I could be swayed if I felt more comfortable about the transferability of DRM in estate law. That may not seem like much, but over the span of years it could represent a significant investment.
Especially if you are buying things like this:

Blogger Sean April 30, 2017 10:17 AM  

I've been buying fewer ebooks recently for a few reasons:

1. I have a long commute, so I've been listening to audiobooks.

2. There's a lot of trash out there, so I'm sticking with authors I enjoy, or were recommended by friends with discerning tastes.

3. The prices on many ebooks when compared to print seems unreasonable to me. I haven't purchased from Castalia House, so I haven't experienced your pricing model and therefore this does not apply to CH.

Blogger Sean April 30, 2017 10:18 AM  

And as far as screen fatigue is concerned, I don't experience it on my Kindle. The e-ink display reads like paper, to me, with the exception of being able to choose my font and size depending on lighting conditions.

Blogger Granddad April 30, 2017 10:19 AM  

Because I am old, I really prefer ebooks because I can increase the font size to be much more comfortable for me than the normal size font in print.

Anonymous Keep Smiling April 30, 2017 10:23 AM  

For years, at about 4:00pm I grab a cold drink, a 2-hour cigar and my Kindle and sit on the back porch and read. 99% Science Fiction, favorites are space opera, time travel, military SF. I prefer novels but short story collections are a good mix-up.

In selecting books, I typically look for pricing in the 100 pages/dollar range. a $4.99 ebook should be around 450 pages, a $3.99 book should have at least 300 pages, etc.

When I see a 4.99 price on a 75 page book, I move on. $6.99 has to be REALLY interesting looking, or one of my REALLY favorite authors.

I enjoy series and if I buy vol 1 for 99 cents and enjoy it.. then I likely will pay 4.99 for each of the others in the series even if they are a little shorter than I would like.

I sorta keep track of when an author or publisher has given me a free book, or 99 cent loss leader, and will buy a book that is a little high, as it balances out and keeps me at around my comfort price point.

I understand that there are a lot of factors that go into pricing, just wanted to let you know one man's opinion.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora April 30, 2017 10:28 AM  

I agree with the guy saying Library Genesis and other piracy sites might be causing this, but I have no evidence. I pirate books, but I will buy Castalia House books and if there are classics you can't find a good version of through piracy like the Tale of Genji, I have no choice. But screw the rest of the industry.

Blogger digra April 30, 2017 10:37 AM  

I prefer hard backs. Just got my hands on TIA. Thank you, Vox.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 10:39 AM  

I agree with the guy saying Library Genesis and other piracy sites might be causing this, but I have no evidence.

It's unlikely. Most studies have shown that piracy tends to balance out in the end, because a pirate's word of mouth is as likely to generate a sale as a buyer's. That's why all the bestselling books are pirated.

Blogger tweell April 30, 2017 10:40 AM  

Most of my reading purchases are ebooks and have been for two years now. I prefer paper for reading, but the convenience of pulling a book up on my phone when I have a few minutes is hard to beat. Reference books and the like are all dead tree versions, I try to find out of date editions to save money there.

As others have noted, budget constraints are biting. I make what I did sixteen years ago, and what was comfortable then is a tight squeeze now. Entertainment is a want, not a need, and putting a bit of food away has been more important than another book to read. Castalia House and a few independent authors are all I follow right now, I've stopped buying from Baen lately. Priorities, it's all about priorities.

Blogger Cassandros the Elder April 30, 2017 10:41 AM  

Really getting tired of the constant Kindle push notifications. Same with Nook.

Anonymous Koppernicus April 30, 2017 10:42 AM  

I've been reading more ebooks, but not paying for them. All legally, too.

I have access to the Army's Overdrive site through the Army's Morale, Recreation and Welfare library system. I also have access to the base library for movies, audio books on CD, and good old fashioned books.

I will be buying future Castalia House releases directly from the source, because Amazon is starting to irritate me.

Anonymous Goodnight April 30, 2017 10:45 AM  

Everytime I find an eBook from a Mainstream publisher and I see the price I think, "For that kind of money, I might as well buy a hard copy."

This is it for me. About a year ago I started noticing that a lot of e-books I wanted had jumped into the $13-18 dollar range. In almost every case the hardback was around the same price. They were also all from big 5 publishers. I just assumed that those publishers either wanted to hurt the e-book market or Amazon. I almost never pay more than $8-9 dollars for an e-book unless it's some technical work-related book that I really need.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable April 30, 2017 10:49 AM  

It occurs to me that I am reading less detective fiction because of creeping awareness of SJW infiltration. I'm really tired of every bloody new cop or lawyer being a happy, functional lesbian.

Anonymous JC NRA April 30, 2017 10:52 AM  

I prefer ebooks, since I can sneak in reading throughout the day. It's mostly time constraints and being picky for me. I'm a Castalia fanboy, but not interested in westerns or Samurai. Waiting for RTRH2, TWBW series, and SJW2. Guaranteed sales then ... will buy direct and skip Amazon from now on.

(And Tom K, are you going to continue the Carrera series? Please?)

Blogger Phelps April 30, 2017 10:54 AM  

I think it is actual screen fatigue, not metaphorical. I can't find reliable numbers, but just from my personal interactions, a decade ago, if you were reading ebooks, you were doing it on an eInk device. Recently, though, the stupid Fire tablets are so cheap (because Amazon would rather sell movies than books) people are buying those instead.

Then, because they have a new eReader, they buy a couple of books, and hate reading them. They aren't sure why, but they just didn't enjoy it. Why didn't they enjoy it? Shitty screen. Are they likely to realize that? No. They've already switched to movies on their "eReader."

Anonymous Bastiat April 30, 2017 10:57 AM  

I haven't bought as much as I have a couple years ago due to a few reasons:
1) I bought most of JCW stuff from TOR before the horrible Hugos and the boycott, so am now finally re-reading them again (and again)
2a) I'll buy any new JCW book sight unseen asap and buy a copy for my father, to obviously read them but also to support JCW.
2b) I'll buy any Vox fantasy/sci-fi same way and read it asap.
2c) Same with Correia and other writers I like, but I usually wait till I have a lull in my reading to catch up on his stuff
3) Getting in on Castalia books the first week, garners me a second free book, but these are simply sitting idle on my Kindle due to my reading other stuff.
4a) I got a Kindle when it seemed the tech was good enough, but also when I realized that I could pirate all the books that I normally would get from the library (but really 10 minutes later and I have all of books in a library), and that is a convenience especially when I was slogging through the Star Wars [Legends] books and I'd have to wait for the someone to return it.
4b) Love my Kindle Paperwhite and am reading more than I ever have (if that's possible), but project Gutenberg let's me read Verne and Wells and everything else and the "lost sales" of me not having to buy a $10 Barnes & Noble reprint simply turn into Patreon $.
5) I consider anything in a library (or public airwaves) to be "fair game", and used to literally check out John C Wright's hard cover books from the library as I read the pirated books on my kindle. But that said: I now own every John C Wright ebook, and a few untouched hardcovers from Castalia, even the ones I had "pirated" in the past, but also simply pirate other books.
6) Case in point Thrawn. I typically enjoy Zahn's stuff and have bought many of his ebooks, but there's no way I'd spend $15 for a reboot of his character (it truly is disconcerting reading this retcon), esp if I could instead get 3 $5 books from Castalia (plus the 3 freebies), and even the ones which haven't peaked my interest are good reads and I trust Castalia to put out quality stuff.
7) But probably most of all is time. I just realized I have David the Good's books somewhere on my Kindle to read that I just haven't gotten around to. I'm sure it's good as I listened to the ATF's timely podcasts, but it, and several other books, just sit on my kindle hoping I'll choose it next. Meanwhile, I more often than not will reread all selenoth or Trillion books anticipating the new one, or read the classics.

Blogger Orville April 30, 2017 11:00 AM  

I’m a noob wannabe self publishing writer, but elbows deep into this process I have some thoughts. Teaching self-publishing in of itself is now an oversaturated market. I paid $720 for an online self-publishing course from Nick Stephenson who is based in the UK. FWIW I think it was worth the price in getting me up to speed in what and how to market e-books. But, I’m getting slammed by email come-ons from a lot of other people offering similar courses. My impression is that the market (Amazon) is filling up with self published dreck. If it is anything like the Castalia slush pile it must be truly awful, but I learned a lot and was encouraged by that pile. We shall see whether my products add to the flotsam or not, but others like @7 are also noting the “oversupply of terrible books”. @17 and @38 are also noting this.
Plus, when you look at the marketing strategies being pushed of using KDP and perma-free offers to help build up email lists to direct market to, I can see where the buyer might be getting flooded with offers. Since FB marketing has been getting declining results, Amazon marketing is now the hot topic in the self-publishing community. More oversaturation. My opinion is that this will pass, but may take a few years for still-born authors to weed themselves out due to discouragement and little to no sales.
Roosh is on to something too “I suspect that people are simply reading less and digesting online video/social content more.” I’m seeing this more and more also, and Vox, I and others have mentioned this before in past posts, that while we prefer to read content, the marketplace of ideas is moving towards more video. Monetizing the videos is increasingly a problem. I only see videos as adjuncts to written content. But still, I think most of us here are in a minority. Most people don’t read or buy books. At least most of my acquaintances don’t.
I don’t think e-reader tech is the issue, though I may need to go to a Paper White to save my own eyes. I nearly can’t read fine print on monitors or paper after an hour on the kindle, even with the brightness way down.

Best Tools For Men.

Blogger JRH, esq. April 30, 2017 11:01 AM  

Number of e-books I've read in the last 3 months: 1.5

Number of audiobooks I've listened to in the last 3 months: 5

Blogger James Dixon April 30, 2017 11:02 AM  

> Everytime I find an eBook from a Mainstream publisher and I see the price I think, "For that kind of money, I might as well buy a hard copy."

That's funny. I think "For that kind of money, I'll pass."

> Really getting tired of the constant Kindle push notifications. Same with Nook.

My Nook Simple Touch never gives me push notifications. Probably because I never set up an account with B&N. It works fine as an epub, text, and pdf reader as is. I imagine using a Kindle as a mobi reader could be done the same way, but it doesn't handle epub's.

Blogger McChuck April 30, 2017 11:07 AM  

Ebook sales are up 6%. Ebook reader sales are down. People must want print books again!

In other news, desktop PC sales are down from historic highs. People must want typewriters again!

Anonymous Man of the Atom April 30, 2017 11:10 AM  

Vox, I think that another item may be the success of Castalia House's blog. Jeffro and the team have turned on folks to many Appendix N authors that are in the Public Domain range and quick captures via Gutenberg for their consumption.

This will likely pay off for Castalia in the long haul with more readers searching out "pulpy goodness" and finding at Castalia. Perhaps some of the drop is lead time for new fans to get through the backlog of foundational works.

Anonymous Passinthough April 30, 2017 11:11 AM  

I prefer to buy from Castalia House. Amazon wants me to use their cloud reader. I read on the desk top.

Anonymous Kevin April 30, 2017 11:12 AM  

I don't think Rupert Murdoch is "conservative" or right leaning. I think he is smart enough to know there is a market for Fox News and wants to make money. It's sounds like his kids are just SJWs who are too stupid to make money and are not business savvy. They are more interested in virtue signaling than building the business, as most SJWs are and most second gen business people.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 11:13 AM  

I've stopped buying from Baen lately.

I've been hearing more of this too. The fact that they have SJWs like John Joseph Adams - the Women Destroy SF guy - editing their anthologies does not bode well for them.

Blogger Jose April 30, 2017 11:14 AM  

VD: "Are we putting out too many books too fast?"

Too fast?!?! Where are NOWHITHER and Riding the Red Horse II?

Blogger Orville April 30, 2017 11:22 AM  

@112 Ditto. I bought "Rocky Mountain Retribution" within a day or two of coming out and finished about three days later. I'm definitely not burnt out on Castalia writers.

Anonymous Steve April 30, 2017 11:25 AM  

I have the Nook reader app on my android phone. I also have the desktop version, but most of my ebook reading is done in the train to and from work.

The Nook app (by Barnes and Noble) doesn't have a proprietary format; it uses the ePub format. I suspect that there's some form of DRM attached to the books that I've purchased through the app, but I've never tried to share the files anyway.

Having said that, the app reads anything in the ePub format, so I'm able to make use of resources like Project Gutenberg, for example. Basically my only limitation is with books that are only published in the Kindle format, but those are relatively few so far.

Blogger Troy Lee Messer April 30, 2017 11:30 AM  

I live in my Jeep.

Blogger Felix Bellator April 30, 2017 11:36 AM  

Echo Bastiat's points 1 & 2. I am reading the same amount and buying more. I buy most Castalia titles that come out. I purchase a lot of on sale material on Amazon through BookBub announcements (they have been featuring Gordon R. Dickson and Clifford Simak a lot). But they all go in the backlog for someday.

Anonymous AT April 30, 2017 11:37 AM  

I see 2 main reasons: First, my teen children dramatically reduced their reading once they got phones. Now their spare time is filled with meaningless and endless instagram chatter (note that this is true even with me limiting phone use to 2 hours per day for all purposes, including schoolwork).

Second, I prefer print books in many ways and will usually buy used print books if the price is less than or equal to the kindle version. I will not spend $10-15 on a kindle book when I can buy used on abebooks or amazon for $5-6 including shipping. Also, the eBooks I do buy are usually "throwaway" fiction books; a nonfiction book that I plan to keep around for reference I want on the shelf where it won't get "lost".

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents April 30, 2017 11:40 AM  

Anecdotally I see a lot of college students reading on phones. But the serious readers by choice, who make a list of "books I want to read before I'm 30" are clinging to dead trees for esthetic reasons. I also see a lot of college students glued to video. With cell bandwidth getting cheaper, it's not an expense to view video on the commute anymore.

In my extended family only a few Boomers read on e-readers, the rest are dead tree. The X and Millennial are more prone to e-readers but less prone to read for fun. The young Z's are all over the place, some read nothing unless they are made to in school, some read anything they can get on Goodreads, some still read physical books.

The money factor seems to be pushing people I know to e-read from Goodreads or Gutenberg on phone screens.

Demographics matter and non-Europeans are not as likely to read for pleasure.

Blogger Zammy P April 30, 2017 11:45 AM  

I destroy my physical books with highlights, the almighty underline, dog-eared pages and a proper send off to my home library when finished. It's all tangible. Doesn't feel like I'm cheating (myself, anyway). Anyway, Vox...I like seeing your mug staring at me every time I enter my reading room. If I want to read anything on my cell phone, I'll read your blog.

Does that make me old school?

Or just a kinesthetic learner?

Blogger M. Bibliophile April 30, 2017 11:50 AM  

I have almost completely switched over to ebook purely based on convenience and portability: I can take my Kindle to the field with me and carry a library of manuals, as well as not have to worry about space restrictions in the car/truck/house etc.

I've slowed down this month after a Castalia splurge (well, for me) in February and March mostly due to work load. Once Outage season is over, I'll pick up where I left off on chewing through the catalogue.

Which brings me to another issue: quality/price. I am consistently finding that, of the modern publishers, only Castalia publishes what I like at a reasonable price. Even if I weren't boycotting Tor, their obscene prices would keep most of their books out of my Kindle. This does double for most other publishers. I know the goal is to drive us all back to hardcopy, but the execution is silly and short sighted; the djinn is out and they're not going to get it back in the bottle. $10 of almost pure profit to the publisher is offensive, but $5-$7 where a good chunk goes to the author is a price I cheerfully pay, especially once quality has been proven. I also still grab classics off Gutenberg, but Librivox has been eating into that.

And you have at least two confirmed sales once you get The Missionaries into audio format. Just FYI.

Anonymous AT April 30, 2017 11:51 AM  

Here's a bit more context: I've averaged just under 40 books per year for the past 19 years that I've been tracking titles. That doesn't include technical books or books that I've read aloud to my kids (probably another 5-10 per year).

One of my kids was probably a 50-60 book per year reader in her MS years before getting a phone in HS (again with limits) and has dropped to maybe 5 non-school books per year. The idiocracy doth approach swiftly...

Blogger Lance E April 30, 2017 11:53 AM  

Most likely reasons:

1. Seasonality. You may adjust for that by looking at YoY metrics, but when you're going through a 100% growth phase, it can still be unreliable. Per-industry comparisons help a little, and from the limited data so far, it sounds like CH is tracking directionally with the industry.

2. Online video - especially YouTube and Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter - are cannibalizing literally everything else, including legacy broadcasting and even Hollywood blockbusters. What happens to the YouTube community vis-à-vis creeping censorship and corporatization will have far-reaching effects not just for them, but for all other forms of media as the creators scatter and scramble to find a different model.

3. You're seeing a gradual widening of the Pareto distribution, which always comes with growth. Like it or not, you'll eventually wind up in a position where most sales come from 20% of books, most books come from 20% of authors, most profits come from 20% of readers, etc. I'm sure you already know this, but it means 100% growth simply isn't sustainable over the long term, because exponential growth in your input only yields linear growth in your output.

I might be missing something, but I don't think that there's much that you, personally, or other CH authors, can do to change the outcome, other than just keep writing.

Anonymous Anonymous April 30, 2017 11:55 AM  

I only buy paper books and audiobooks anymore, if I have any choice. Bought a Clevald audiobook, it was great. But, anythig else needs to have a smell and be something I can hand to my son, who does not have any screens.

Blogger SirHamster April 30, 2017 11:56 AM  

Don't usually buy ebooks. Last few purchases were political statements of support, including Corroding Empire. Do plan to buy the rest of that series, and get started on Wright's catalog when I finish more of my current ebook backlog.

ebooks is for pleasure reading, but I get most of that from blogs like VP. Fun and educational.

Prefer paper for useful books that I might want to share in meatspace, namely David's gardening books. Recently discovered David's books are on Kindle MatchBook, so ebook is free with paper copy. Appreciated the bonus.

Anonymous Ham Solo April 30, 2017 11:57 AM  

ONE REASON....when you go to buy a book this is what you find.

1) Paperback version is $4.99

2) The ebook version, which has $zero cost to manufacture, print, distribute, and ship is $9.99

When the ebook does not cost MORE than the physical book I will buy more of them.

Heck sometimes the HARDBACK versions are cheaper than the ebook versions. It's crazy.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( don't trifle with me, son. i'm a professional, certified 4th degree black belt in the ancient Hebrew martial art of Kibitz Maga ) April 30, 2017 12:00 PM  

as with neocolonial, i don't read near so many books as i used to.

i never have purchased an e-book though.

Blogger Heian-kyo Dreams April 30, 2017 12:03 PM  

Reading on a tablet or phone is painful in ways that aren't obvious until reading on a kindle paperwhite. Since getting the paperwhite, I've read a lot more. No stupid email/text/amazon notifications either, just peace and quiet.

However, I've bought zero books for me in the past month because Nick Cole had a contest that gave away 6 books just for entering. After reading these, I'll buy some more ebooks.

Gifted a friend in a tight spot SJWAL from amazon, though.

Another life thing affecting all spending is that I'm moving to "my nation" in America where living expenses will be much higher.

Since the paperwhite is wonderful to read on, I really appreciate Vox asking about mobi last week.

Blogger Annie DiPiombo April 30, 2017 12:05 PM  

All the above. I hate reading on a screen. I use the kindle only for stuff off Internet Archive. I'll go to quite a bit of inconvenience to avoid the intrusive Amazon system and the DRM. I read about 50-70 books a year, mostly used stuff from Alibris or library books.

Blogger Dave April 30, 2017 12:09 PM  

Jose wrote:VD: "Are we putting out too many books too fast?"

Too fast?!?! Where are NOWHITHER and Riding the Red Horse II?

Copy that. For Pete's sake still waiting for Rolf's sequel.

Anonymous Just another commenter April 30, 2017 12:11 PM  

Simple: Time and Money. Not enough of either, combine with existing stacks of older purchases still awaiting my eyes. When the choice is "patch the roof" or "sit reading quietly for a few hours," there isn't really a choice.

Anonymous Tarstarkusz April 30, 2017 12:11 PM  

The pricing structure make no sense given the cost difference between print and digital. The marginal cost of an e-book is essentially zero and there should be a lower price for them, especially considering that you're not getting anything physical and that these books are often tied to a platform that might not even exist in ten years.

It is not uncommon to find printed books for less than a buck on Amazon, while the ebook version is 8 or $9.

I have also noticed that many of these books are being released in parts, with each part being $3-$4.

Blogger DJ | AMDG April 30, 2017 12:12 PM  

I e gone nearly 100% audible, too. The only time I read Kindle or print is when on vacation. It's a real treat, but I still desire to power through dozens of books a year, and without audible I wouldn't be able to.

Hasn't Amazon poured a ton of new money into advertising and marketing of the Audible platform?

Blogger Stan_qaz April 30, 2017 12:13 PM  

I have vision problems so I very rarely pick up a print book today, that sucks as I have about 125 unread paperbacks and hard cover books sitting on my shelf. It is just so much easier for me to open an e-book on my Android, zoom the text to where it works for my eyes and read it there.

My about 1800 book library has become a dust collector, it is just too hard to read them again in print, a few I have done the Kindle matchbook deal on but most are just awaiting recycling to another fan.

As to buying more books, I have somewhere over 700 on my Amazon wishlist of Kindle Unlimited books. I am usually getting farther and farther behind on that list too, find more than I read.

I do buy a few Kindle books, mostly series I have been following for years but a few that look just too good to pass up. I do give a bit more thought to books Amazon has put the dreaded "Price set by publisher" warning note on, it isn't a deal killer but it does move the book down the list a good bit. I also try to avoid supporting the SJW authors.

Blogger joek April 30, 2017 12:18 PM  

" can toss them in the fireplace and watch them burn."
You can also take them to the gun range.

Anonymous Raw Cringe April 30, 2017 12:18 PM  

I'm buying hella ebooks lately, personally. Cheaper than print, and I already have more print books than I can hold on my shelves. Feeling like I might need to install seven new bookshelves to put all these books next to my lamborghini, you know, it's like my mentor says, the more you learn the more you earn... Plus no f@#%ing wait, hey. One click and go, can't beat that.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 30, 2017 12:19 PM  

Kindle unlimited is great I read ten too thirty books a month. Five bucks is the sweet spot to buy. More than seven and no sale. Ten bucks or more and I feel offended.

Blogger Quilp April 30, 2017 12:21 PM  

Still a kindle user. I recently bought A Canticle for Leibowitz in paperback, and I think I'm going to have to purchase a pair of those drug store glasses just to be able read it. I do wish the paperwhite was like my original kindle, no back lighting at all. However, the ability to increase font size, for those of getting a bit long in the tooth, is priceless. If Anything, my kindle sales have recently increased...but so have the freebie downloads published before 1930(?) I guess I really should set things up to purchase directly from Castalia, and elsewhere, instead of cutting Amazon in on every single purchase. Anyhow, keep publishing them in digital format , I for one will continue gobbling them up.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 30, 2017 12:30 PM  

The ability to enlarge the font is big for me. I can't read most of my old paperbacks.

Blogger Sheila4g April 30, 2017 12:33 PM  

Mixture of what others have said. If it's something that I know I will refer back to repeatedly, I want a hard copy {although lack of space and waiting for its arrival is a real issue}. E-book prices are generally too high, but that's not an issue re Castalia. For fiction I have been reading throw-away stuff on KU. Time is definitely an issue - I read online in the mornings or in between housework and errands. Between family responsibilities and chauffeuring {younger kid's not driving yet for various reasons} and cooking dinner and . . . I don't get to relax with my kindle or an actual book until 11 or 12 and by then my eyes are closing.

Eye strain used to be an issue with my old Kindle Fire, but with the paperwhite it's not a problem. I'm not an audio listener {couldn't possibly focus while at the gym; that's for metal with a beat to keep me moving and drown out the nignoise they play overhead}. I've planned to set aside some time to sit down with Markku's instructions in an earlier thread on transferring e-books - thus far I've just done Amazon because of the simplicity. I'm a bit of a technophobe {understanding how to do things electronically doesn't come naturally to me and I'm not familiar with terms others take for granted}. One other big problem for me with e-books is sharing - often want to give what I've read to my older son or a friend, and can't just hand-off my kindle. If there was a simple and cheap way to get multiple copies of ebooks and gift them, that would be fantastic.

Finally, I spend a lot of in the kitchen where my laptop is, and it's easy to read blogs in between cooking, laundry, etc. in brief or long chunks, but for reading a book {particularly fiction that I get lost in} I want to be undisturbed {which means, again, too late at night to allow much time for it}.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd April 30, 2017 12:37 PM  

If I buy something, I want someTHING. Buying a digital file seems too much like buying a bucket of steam. I do read ebooks if they are free, but my wife hates to see me reading a screen, isn't much bothered when I read a book.

I'll buy more Castalia books as they come out in paperback.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 30, 2017 12:45 PM  

For the most part, CH has priced their books right.

Anonymous Sam the Man April 30, 2017 12:48 PM  

No one has said this, so here is a 53 year olds view.

I like history and books on guns. My wife has a Kindle and has bought eBooks before, mostly chick lite. Might not relate exactly to EBooks, but My observations nontheless:

1) In history books, I can buy used copies very cheap. Go to any yard sale, small gun show or any kind of church/yard-sale/ small-fair there will be book seller with used books really cheap. Why would I buy a new book for 20 to 40 dollars when I can get loads of volumes for 2 to 5 dollars each?

2) Related to that, the amount of material on line makes new books kind of superfluous. Lets say I read a good classic book like "forgotten soldier" (1967). Guess what all of the questions I might have others had and there will be a page or two dedicated to analyzing the book and a lot of material on related topics, from equipment or very detailed soviet sources that were not available in 1967.

3) The poor quality of new books. On a lot of history books written lately, they are just poorly done. I could go one for hours, but it basically comes down to poorly edited, rehashed old books with a modern world-view twist. For example the book "washing of the spears" on the Anglo-Zulu war is dated, but nothing has come along that is better, instead any modern text trying to turn it into a bad European/good African tale, ignoring the barbaric aspect of Zulu society.

4) I think the demographic and social changes are hitting home. Married guys with kids are too busy to read much, they population of young men is shifting year by year from Whites to black/Hispanic/other, who are not in general readers.

5) The young men I know seem to be much less interested in reading history then playing video games.

6) On older topics there are a lot of pre 1923 books for free. want to know about lynch law in the 1890s, check out the volumes written at the time the events were occurring, much different facts. Want to know about Henry VIII, guess what you can download a 1797 book on Ann-Bolan which has a bunch of facts which modern histories do not (yes Ann was messing around on the king, that was why she was killed)

Blogger Unknown April 30, 2017 12:48 PM  

There's a reason that hasn't really been touched on much.

Over the past few years,I've acquired a great many more ebooks than I've had time to read. At this point, I'm pretty sure the backlog is into three digits.
So I'm not actively looking for more. And when I do come across one that interests me, it gets compared to all the other ones I already have and want to read. Even if it passes those tests, lot of the time I just bookmark it, rather than compulsively buying.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener April 30, 2017 1:14 PM  

My primary reading interest is non-fiction, but occasionally I will read either classics (generally available for free) or Castalia releases. In my case it just isn't a very big slice of my time that Castalia is competing for.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper April 30, 2017 1:15 PM  

I occasionally buy gaming E-Books and download reference manuals when I can get them free and legal but I don't buy novels in that format. Old habits die hard

Currently I spend too much time reading on screen to read many books.

Now reading wise books are of such little worth in Southern California that used books hardback or paperback can be had for $1 at a small chain store

I've have been buying a lot of those for when I move. And yeah I have to move them, in for a dollar, in for a ton.

As for TV I don't think TV viewership is through the roof , it appears to be down 10 hours a month overall from last quarter

What I suspect is a combination of less readers , good chunks of the US are non literate , a mild dislike/distrust of the E-Book medium and more people doing stuff online, playing video games, pod casts and so on. Plus a lot of people are working a lot of hours to make ends meet

At least in So Cal most consumer goods are roughly the same but taxes, gas (that's strictly a local issue) and food/housing I think everywhere seems to be suffering from the inflationary effects of money printing

Blogger Eric Mueller April 30, 2017 1:23 PM  

I don't think Vox has ever been worried about piracy. Up until ATOB, he always insisted the publisher allow him to offer free .pdf versions of his books. We used to be able to download them from the sidebar on this blog. That's how I got TIA and the War in Heaven series.

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 1:26 PM  

" We used to be able to download them from the sidebar on this blog. That's how I got TIA . . ."

Still there.

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 30, 2017 1:27 PM  

I read more books in 2016 than in 2015.

Top of head here:

6 ebooks (2 Murakami, Calvino, 2 history, Sea of Skulls, 1 or 2 new SF, forgetting a few)

And at least four times that many in print. However, my new book purchases were a fraction of that.

Also, I spent more liesure time in 2016 off screen than I have in 20 years.

Blogger VD April 30, 2017 1:31 PM  

I don't think Vox has ever been worried about piracy.

Not even a little. I was stoked the first time I saw one of my books on Pirate Bay.

Blogger Michael Maier April 30, 2017 1:31 PM  

Leaving aside how much I HATE reading e-books, I do not even want to count the number of unread physical books in my house. I often buy books "for later".

For a while, e-books were cheaper and took up no space so I didn't think anything of ordering them "for later". Now my Kindle account has a few dozen ebooks I haven't opened. So I stopped buying them.

Now, I look at it like this: If I expect the book to be good, it's worth buying the paper copy. I will still buy a new e-book if it's something that doesn't have a narrative flow where I will not suffer for not reading it all at once. Like CUCKSERVATIVE.

Blogger joek April 30, 2017 1:41 PM  

Good point. When my 1st Kindle died, I was given a Kindle Fire. I tried changing the font size, the brightness, I even tried the inverted setting (black background, white letters). I have a Kindle Paperwhite now.

Blogger E. William Brown April 30, 2017 1:43 PM  

The explanation here is both simple and obvious - the major publishers dramatically raised prices on all their ebook offerings, so I stopped buying them. Instead I read several books per month on Kindle Unlimited, and buy from independent authors when I find one that's worth the money.

At this point Amazon has so many books available for 'free' on Kindle Unlimited that I won't even bother trying an author who doesn't make their work available that way. Why should I spend three, five or even eight bucks finding out that they're yet another tiresome SJW ranter, when there are a hundred free options sitting in my recommendation list?

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 30, 2017 1:47 PM  

Oh, and yes I have definitely declined ebook use for non-ref non-fiction and fiction.

It is just nice to have a book you can still burn. Only way to do that with an ebook is to read it on a Galaxy Note 7.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable April 30, 2017 1:51 PM  

Not even a little. I was stoked the first time I saw one of my books on Pirate Bay.

One loyal minion makes up for fifty indifferent downloaders. And Vox has a bunch.

Blogger JP April 30, 2017 1:57 PM  

Most of the non-fiction I read is in the category of useful skills, whether it's the 4GW Handbook, emergency medicine, gardening, etc. Since electronic devices can fail, I go physical for most of my non-fiction. For fiction, ebooks are much better because they're compact, so you can read from a large choice of books while traveling and save shelf space at home.

I'm probably reading more books now than the last few years, but nothing compared to when I was a kid. Once I got the internet, almost all of my light reading went to online blogs and articles. Things have gotten even more distracting with YouTube and podcasts. There's only so much time available for information and entertainment.

Anonymous Jack Amok April 30, 2017 1:59 PM  

I have 30 unread ebooks on my Kindle (4 of them CH titles). Maybe this is just people cutting back because they're realizing they've already got a year or two's worth of reading paid for.

Blogger Quintus Maximus April 30, 2017 2:01 PM  

I've been reading more in the last year than I've done in ages. Mostly stuff NOT AVAILABLE in ebook though, so I'm forced to buy physical copies.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab April 30, 2017 2:17 PM  

Can't see the point of pirating a book when there's so much free stuff out there. Plus there's this thing called the library.

Blogger SmockMan April 30, 2017 2:22 PM  

I hadn't read much fiction in 10 years till Nov 2016 when I bought Throne of Bones. I have been buying ebooks almost exclusively unless there is a better deal for the print. I bought 8 castalia house ebooks (0 print) in total since then. Mostly newly released stuff. Haven't been disappointed yet. Many older ebooks I want to buy but currently catching up on other books like brian neimeier's series.

One-handed reading and insta look-up on words and night lighting is the greatest thing going for kindle. The kindle just needs a blue light filter for night reading.

Blogger Jose April 30, 2017 2:26 PM  

VD wrote:I don't think Vox has ever been worried about piracy.

Not even a little. I was stoked the first time I saw one of my books on Pirate Bay.

Who pirates a $5 e-book? That's less than a sugar + fat + burnt coffee drink from Starbucks (the only good Starbuck is Katee Sackoff).

To elaborate on my previous comment, John C Wright has reason to delay NOWHITHER, given all the other books he's writing (including the much awaited Count to Infinity, though what's with a release date 18 months after the "Finished!" blog post?), but what are Cole and Kratman doing, resting on the piles of money from Ctrl-Alt-Revolt and Caliphate eating grapes and playing the lyre?

Not very supreme-dark-lordish of VD to tolerate such lassitude...

Blogger Were-Puppy April 30, 2017 2:29 PM  

For me it is entirely financial.

I haven't bought any new ebooks in a couple months, as I am staring at hundreds of books I forgot about and havent read yet.

So now I end up reading maybe 1 ebook and 2 physical books a week.

Blogger RobertT April 30, 2017 2:30 PM  

This stuns me. Take a deep breath and everything will soon be back to normal. It'll be cold day in hell when I willingly give up my ability to buy any ebook that exists from Amazon and have it in 15 seconds. This is a big deal. Horse & buggy were fine in their day, but I don't yearn to give them a try today.

Blogger Were-Puppy April 30, 2017 2:35 PM  

I also find myself working on sudokus and that kind of thing listening to youtubers or infowars. Kind of hard to read a book while listening to vids.

Blogger Flannel Avenger April 30, 2017 2:38 PM  

Why I don't buy as many e-books as I might otherwise basically comes down to price. The traditional publishers seem to want to charge the same money for an e-book that they do for a trade paperback or a hardback. I am not willing to give the same money for an electronic copy as I am for an actual physical book that cannot be remotely deleted (in the case of Amazon) and doesn't require power (in the event of a disaster). Castalia has certainly recognized this in their pricing structure. I particularly like the willingness that Vox and Castalia have shown to include an electronic copy with the purchase of a paper copy on titles I have purchased.

Anonymous Mr. Rational April 30, 2017 2:42 PM  

Ominous Cowherd wrote:Buying a digital file seems too much like buying a bucket of steam.
I resemble that remark!  I'm doing thermo calculations for a steam powerplant right now.  The stuff is quite substantial.

My bathroom and bed fodder used to be crossword and number puzzles but with all the books I haven't picked up one of those in several weeks now.  I do a 6x6 KenKen in a bit over 2 minutes, so not much time killed there.  "More or Less" and "Kakuro" actually occupy me for a while.

Blogger Alfred Genesson April 30, 2017 3:00 PM  

A few comments:

1. Seeing a lot of signal-to-noise comments. If only there were a book reviewer you could trust...

2. To the lack of time comments, what do you do on your work breaks? I'm usually reading.

3. No April release from CH? I don't get to give you my money, Vox. I've got other authors to read, so no big, but CH fiction usually jumps the line.

4. Lots of screen fatigue suggestions, but I've not had the issue. Get away from the plain white background, and adjust the brightness as needed.

Anonymous Lord T April 30, 2017 3:03 PM  

I never made the leap to eBooks and have always stuck with print books. There are several reasons. Not wanting to have my purchases edited or deleted by a SJWs after I have bought them was high on the list, at No 3, but No 1 and 2 was I just liked a book I could read in the sunlight and pick up when I wanted it without worrying about power.

Anonymous Spectrum April 30, 2017 3:05 PM  

I'd love to get my hands on some print non-fiction from Castelia. But Amazon is very Dutchies un-friendly.

Not gonna pay high shipping from U.S.
Not even gonna bother with Kindle
No way I'm reading books from a screen.

Shame really.

Anonymous Bellator Mortalis April 30, 2017 3:08 PM  

I prefer to read not only the first couple pages, but also the last two pages, and random snippets in the middle before I buy a book. Reason is that I got burned once by purchasing a "heroic" fiction book when 30 pages in the hero turns out to be a cock-sucking homo who did homo sex scenes every 40 pages or so.

Never again.

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 3:17 PM  

" . . . doesn't require power (in the event of a disaster)."

Given the low energy needs of an e-ink device, solar charging is quite viable. More concerning is the quasi-proprietary battery shelf life of circa three years.

If there were a "hardcover format" reader that ran on 2xAA, I'd buy it. A four pack of Eneloops and you'd have no downtime for charging and Lithium-Iron primaries have a shelf life of decades.

Blogger Keoni Galt April 30, 2017 3:18 PM  

I haven't bought any ebooks since SJWAL...but my issue is simply available time to read for entertainment. Anyhow, I finally got some free time last week so I finally got around to getting 8 books I've had my eye on from Amazon. Just read Ctrl, Alt, Revolt and The Missionaries. I just started re-reading ATOB so that I can go right into ASOS completely refreshed on Selenoth.

But other than my recent splurge, I just don't have the time to dedicate to reading as I used to.

But I will say this, as I do teach music for all grade levels at a charter school, and it looks to me like kids these days just don't read books for fun. The boys are all video game addicts and the girls are all social media affirmation junkies.

I'm thinking the current ebook market is largely made up of Boomers and GenX. Just wait til most of the boomers die out...I don't think the upcoming generations are going to be much readers at all.

Postman's hypothesis comparing Orwell to Huxley from Amusing Ourselves to Death seems apropos:

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us."

Blogger KSC April 30, 2017 3:22 PM  

A different perspective from someone who is blind:

E-books got started way earlier for the blind than they did for everyone else. Largely this is because braille books are extraordinarily inconvenient: the paper is much thicker and requires different binding, they weigh a ton and are usually split into multiple volumes. For example, a copy of the King James Bible in braille is probably about two feet high.

So once it became easier to port braille files into electronic formats after the invention of electronic braille displays, that's what started happening. Not long after that, a website called Bookshare was founded, where volunteers would scan books that would be proofed electronically and given to blind members of the website. Project Gutenberg started to become a thing around the same time (I think I discovered it around 2003-2004). In the beginning, the offerings weren't great, but with the advent of Bookshare you suddenly had a lot more options. There were also websites like the Internet Sacred Texts Archive if you were really interested in religion (it's still up, and has lots of fascinating old material.)

Eventually more and more mainstream outlets started putting out ebooks. I think 2011 was the year this started seriously affecting my life: suddenly I could find and purchase more and more obscure nonfiction--history, theology, philosophy, you name it. And then I figured out how to make Kindle files accessible with a screen reader with Calibre-based software.

The rest is history. Braille books are hard to store long-term, and more often than not you have to get them from a library so you can't even keep them. The ebook revolution has done incalculable good for me and other blind people I know.

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 3:25 PM  

Was Orwell right? Was Huxley right?


Blogger Keoni Galt April 30, 2017 3:35 PM  

kfg wrote:Was Orwell right? Was Huxley right?


Agreed. While a very insightful and interesting read, Postman offers a false dichotomy. It's not that it's one or the other scenario is taking place, but rather that Huxley's dystopia is setting the stage to weaken, distract and divide we the people to the point where we cannot effectively resist the tyranny Orwell knew would come.

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 3:36 PM  

" . . .a copy of the King James Bible in braille is probably about two feet high."

Oddly enough, while this thread is open in one window, I have been looking for a two foot high Bible in the other, but even the "lectern" Bibles costing several hundred dollars barely break the one foot mark these days. How am I supposed to record generations of family, births, deaths and marriages, in something like that?

And while I was at it, I ended up buying two e-books collecting the early 6 Simon Templar, magazine serial novellas. $2.48 American. Quite reasonable for old catalog. Compared to twenty bucks for two, equally old, Agatha Christie novels which can be had at a garage sale for about twenty cents.

Blogger Jose April 30, 2017 3:38 PM  

I go for ebooks for everything except art books (because art ebooks skimp on resolution).

1. They don't take up physical space. Having disposed of around 2000 paper books in my last declutter, I'm very sensitive to this. (I replaced about 800 of them by ebooks of the same work.)

2. They're searchable, can have different levels of annotations, annotations are searchable.

3. When you go past 40, you start valuing the ability to do this:

BTW, that's a $150 textbook on the screen, so stop bellyaching about $5 novels.

4. I now carry an entire reference library with me, on my laptop (& iPad & some on Kindle too, though it's terrible for technical diagrams and math) when I go anywhere. Yes, it cost a lot of money. (To my employer.)

5. In this age of high time preference, the ability to get the book you want in a few minutes of download instead of having to wait for it to be ordered and delivered (local bookstores basically only carry popular stuff; try getting a book from the long tail)

Anonymous tublecane April 30, 2017 3:42 PM  

I was tired of reading books on screen before I started, and mostly only do so for ones I can download for free. I did read SJWAL on a screen, though.

Blogger Jack Ward April 30, 2017 3:43 PM  

@101: Agree. Really looking forward to more Carera. Though, its been long enough to start a re-read of the Peace series.
@88. I had an older Kindle without light. Getting a Paperwhite was a revelation and blessing. Now, it seems, Amazon is messing with us all via drm. Bezos may be hacking body parts off his golden goose and it may bite his butt one day as Amason sales go belly up.
@128. Me too. Rolf can have a 15 or 20 novel universe with his original story idea. He just has to write it. And keep writing.
@148. My son has a fire. Give me the eink paperwhite any day. Though, right now, since I let Amazon do the latest update, my paperwhite is doing some crazy stuff. If I connect it to the laptop to remove books from the document file, or back them up to dvd, I almost always have to restart the thing. Recently, I had to do a full reset which can be a pain. I strongly suspect this is part and parcel of the Amazon attack using jackboot drm and such. Too bad. Still, though, the paperwhite is the standard in ereader for just about any format [if you can get epub to mobi without tearing out your hair. Used to be no problem there. Bezos needs to go to Nepal and meditate for a decade or so]

Anonymous kfg April 30, 2017 3:45 PM  

" . . .that's a $150 textbook on the screen, so stop bellyaching about $5 novels."

Why do you think I haven't replaced my stolen Halliday & Resnick? And as I recall it was only $75, for both volumes when I bought it.

Of course at that time I was also bitching that gas had gone over .40/gal.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 30, 2017 3:52 PM  


Yes, JC.

Blogger Cail Corishev April 30, 2017 3:53 PM  

Who pirates a $5 e-book?

Someone who never would have bought it anyway, even if it were only a dollar and pirating were impossible. That's why the laughing pirate's laugh is so empty -- he's not taking a sale away from Vox, and Vox knows it. But in his rush to brag and chortle, he admitted that he went to the trouble to download Castalia's books and enjoyed them -- a positive review, from someone who's clearly not a fan of the publisher!

Blogger Matt Harris April 30, 2017 4:01 PM  

The only books I buy at the moment are e-books. Many of them aren't in dead tree format. I also read lots of fanfiction which I download as epubs.

Anonymous Bz April 30, 2017 4:08 PM  

I'm probably a nightmare for the big 5. I used to buy perhaps 100 books a year, now it's down to half a dozen or so. Usually hard cover or similar for "archival purposes". Like everyone else, I don't buy superpriced ebooks either. They just want to protect their paper profits.

I do still buy Castalia, in particular John C Wright. Not seldom in hardcover as well as the ebook. I liked that I found Nick Cole through you as well.

I use a Kindle Paperwhite for fiction, a great device though it gets a bit repetitive after a while. Everything looks very similar. It's not very nice for books with images, like technical books, so it's mainly paper for those. I don't use Kindle Unlimited. I probably read more fiction these days than I used to, because it's so convenient. Podcasts have been eating into the commuting time recently.

As to Castalia, I'd say the lineup of authors is very eclectic, so it's sometimes difficult to tell whether an unknown one will be a good read or not. Not that I really mind. You could perhaps try to pick up more neglected former mid-listers to fill out the SF section.

Blogger Thurston Pilgrim April 30, 2017 4:38 PM  

As our southern "neighbors" continue to be counted among the rest of us, expect to see declining metrics in reading of all types. There's a reason Mexico has been called "The Country that Stopped Reading.

Anonymous DanVincent April 30, 2017 4:45 PM  

In the off-chance that you actually read this far through the comments, I am of the opinion that physical books are a tradition worth upholding. E-books have their place in our household... my kids like the Amazon Kindle-in-motion enhanced books, for example, but we vastly prefer the touch and smell of a real book for read-aloud time. And not just physical, but high-quality hardcovers. One of my goals as a homeschool father is to provide a high quality library for my kids and their grandkids. A good family library is a dying breed that I intend on prolonging as long as possible, much like yours in the backdrop of your Darkstreams.

Plus, I get so much screen time in my work, reading is the time I like to NOT have an LED-backed screen to look at, much less a blue-backlit LCD screen.

That said, their is definitely a place for e-books. We a pretty good collection of classics on our Amazon account, both free and paid, but mostly use them for travel, always choosing the physical copies to read at home.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener April 30, 2017 4:48 PM  

Regarding ebooks specifically - I like them and for most purposes prefer them over paper, provided they're not DRMed and downloadable as individual files, which is just how Castalia delivers them. Ebooks save a ton of space and it's super convenient to read them. But if I really love and cherish and book, or want it as a frequent reference, then I probably want a hardback copy too. I don't care for paperbacks.

Blogger sconzey April 30, 2017 5:04 PM  

These figures published by the Publishers Association don't distinguish between several interesting scenarios:

1. These figures are for sales revenue. It's possible that sales have risen but revenue has fallen as readers switch from £6.99 ebooks by known authors to £1.99 ebooks from more independent authors.
2. These figures are from the UK Publisher's Association. How much of the decline in revenue is due to people switching to ebooks published by worldwide/indie/self- publishers?

Blogger Unknown April 30, 2017 5:05 PM  

I have definitely slowed down on my ebook purchasing for the following reasons:

1) The Prices seem to be going up, Some of the Authors I love their prices are now above $10 for a new release, I cannot justify that. Also I personally will not buy an ebook under 300 pages for more than $3.
2) the other thing is that it is really hard to find new releases that are actually scifi or fantasy on Amazon these days seems to be mostly romance which I have zero interest in.
3) I have been buying a lot more non fiction and tend to get paperback or hardback for these.

Hope this helps.

Blogger Justin Baugher April 30, 2017 5:33 PM  

With the election of Trump, I found hope that I didn't know that I was missing. In the time since then, my entertainment hours have been cut from hours watching videos online or reading blogs/books to listening to stuff while I work on improving myself & situation. I'm even behind in listening to Stefan's podcast.

In addition, I still see that the SHTF time will still come, so I'm using my excess $ to prepare. Currently the only electronic books that I get are either Audio (that I rip and store) or e-books that i'm going to read right then, or to evaluate quality before getting the Physical book.

Demographics: 35-40, single, male, IT Professional.

Anonymous Britboing April 30, 2017 5:43 PM  

Aye this.

The UK Publishers Association only tracks about 60-65% of the UK market so that's a fair-sized chunk not accounted for.

Blogger Jose April 30, 2017 5:44 PM  

Bz wrote:As to Castalia, I'd say the lineup of authors is very eclectic

The problem with CH authors is not enough book releases. Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon wrote 3-5 books per year; Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse did about 2 per year; Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy didn't let something as pedestrian as dying stop them from continuing to release new material.

Blogger Gospace April 30, 2017 6:07 PM  

My wife buys plenty of ebooks. I've bought only a few. She finds it easy to carry the reader around with her in her purse, and pulls it out everywhere. It's a little difficult to fit in my pocket, and leaving it conveniently in the car in winter or summer would be a bad idea, and it seems we get one week of spring and fall here.

Blogger Kona Commuter April 30, 2017 6:29 PM  

I've got 7 books lined up to be read.

Blogger DeploraBard April 30, 2017 6:34 PM  

I have been going back to printed books. Tired of the Kindle. It is not the same as having a physical collection.

Anonymous Quicksilver75 April 30, 2017 6:36 PM  

Suspect Audiobooks are cannibalizing the E-book, and there may a tiny rebound in paper book sales. When so many have to work at computers 9-5, just listening or holding a paper copy is a nice change from the glowing screen. Even a soft glow of kindle gets annoying

Blogger DeploraBard April 30, 2017 7:01 PM  

I spend a lot of time reading online. It has greatly reduced my book buying. I can't stand TV. Fantasy and SF when younger and much more history, human psych, and philosophy now. There are so few bookstores and kids are not interested in hanging out there reading for hours.

Is data available on library check out rates?

Blogger DeploraBard April 30, 2017 7:02 PM  

I will ask the google

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