Fair Warnings for Those Who Read E-Books ;-)

As a public-spirited citizen, I think of it as my responsibility to warn people of possible dangers. With the increasing popularity of e-reading, I think it’s important for people to know what they risk when they download e-books. So I think there ought to be warning messages on certain e-books that would let consumers know the consequences of downloading them. Here are a few of my ideas:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

See what I mean? Just a small effort at warning e-book consumers what they’re in for could make a huge difference in millions of readers’ lives. What do you think? Got any warning messages you’d like to add ? ;-)

50 Comments

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50 responses to “Fair Warnings for Those Who Read E-Books ;-)

  1. How about warning about those books that leave a whole line space between paragraphs? Much as I love Peter Tremayne’s work, can’t read them on kindle because of this…

  2. Nan

    This is hilarious, and in a few cases, just a bit too close to the truth, don’t you think?!!

  3. Really great Margot – however, now you’ve really put me off getting a Kindle! My family is going to be very upset if I upset their Christmas plans …

  4. With the exception of the free download, all those could apply to paper books.

  5. What about – you’ll read faster and therefore buy more

  6. Great fun! And too true.

  7. Truths and half-Truths! :D :D
    1) before ebooks, books were re-released with new titles ALL THE TIME. They still are, as a matter of fact. Ex. The Diamond Tiger, re-released as Death is Forever in Paperback and ebook.
    2) Yes, ebooks can be very badly written. :P But you can sample, same as you can pick a book up off a shelf at BN…and if you can’t do that, you might need to figure out how to join the 21st century. You’re being left behind. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need an ereader to sample an ebook.
    3) A little true. Customer Service can be a pain… call your best friend who has joined the 21st century
    4) Never seen an ebook more expensive than a hardcover of the same book. Give me a link. Maybe the same price…and that’s about as stupid as a publishing company can get. Don’t buy from them….they’ve probably over-priced the hardback as well. :P
    5) See #2… about sampling. Like you, some writers have NOT joined the 21st century either. They will be left behind as well.
    6) Books go on sale at Brick and Mortar stores too… ever miss one of those by a day or two? This is not an issue with digital publishing or digital selling. It’s life…and Murphy.
    7) Again, sample. If it’s that bad, it’s not going to be good in the first 15%. That author will not fool you and write a perfectly written story in 20 pages then revert to unedited, first draft dribble.

    Anyway…. it’s a blog in a blog! I should do my own post on my blog. :) I get books for free and CHEAP!!! some are crap, some are treasures. Same as when I used to buy them for more than twice the price. :)

    • Bethanne – Thanks for your views on this. Every now and then I do a post like this that’s mostly meant to have a little fun and it’s always good to hear others’ opinions on what I write.

  8. I still can’t forgive HarperCollins for constantly printing a bullet calibre as ?22 in the Kindle edition of ASK A POLICEMAN, which is the epitome of sloppy editing and cynically half-hearted production values.

    • Patrick – I don’t blame you for being annoyed at that. No-one’s perfect, least of all me, and I know a few of my errors have made it *blush* to print. But yes, those kinds of editing and formatting errors can really pull one out of a story.

  9. That was funny!
    Though, in all honestly, many of those things could apply equally to physical books.
    I am still undecided on an e-book reader- love the feel of books, but no house in Bombay can be large enough to accommodate my son AND my reading habit, so I might just have to give in soon :-(

    • Natasha – Thank you :-) – You’re right too of course that some of the same problems with e-books are problems with physical books. Like you, I could never have all of the space I want for books, so I am actually very glad I have a Kindle. I can take a library with me wherever I go and that is pretty fantastic.

  10. Margot: Very clever. You are not convincing me to get an ereader.

    • Bill – Glad you enjoyed this. Actually for all that e-readers have their – erm – issues, I’m very glad I have one. There’s nothing like ‘em for portability and flexibility and I do like the e-reader’s search function.

  11. Very hilarious, Ms. Kinberg! I nearly reached for my mouse to delete all the ebooks I have legally downloaded on to my hard disk. I have been resisting the temptation of buying an e-reader considering that I have nearly a hundred unread paperbacks.

    Here’s another fair warning…

    Your order cannot be completed

    “You have downloaded the maximum number of ebooks permissible in India for 2012. If you attempt to download any more ebooks, you face imprisonment of thirty days or a fine of Rs.1,000, or both.”

    • Prashant – Oh, that is very funny! Thank you :-)! That’s definitely one issue with e-books. There are so many wonderful books out there that e-readers make it extremely easy to buy many more than your reading time allows. Glad you enjoyed this post.

  12. Nice one, Margot! My Kindle is full of unread books, so maybe this warning is needed: this is the umpteenth book you’ve downloaded, do you really want to add another to your to-be-read virtual books? Oh, yes I’m an e-book addict :)

    • Margaret – Thank you :-) – And your warning is witty and clever. I should have that one pop up whenever I am online looking at books. I content myself that it’s far easier to remain in denial about the size of my TBR list when they’re e-books. :-)

  13. Yes yes yes – been there, done that. My kindle now rarely gets used.

    • Sarah – Ah, the voice of experience… It can be awfully frustrating when one of those things happens, especially if it’s a book one was really excited about reading. I love my Kindle, but there are definitely some things to be said for physical books.

  14. This post made me smile! Thanks Margot. One for me would be – Your order cannot be completed, you have already 50 waiting to be read, you can’t possibly read this.

    Buying Ebooks while sitting at home is so easy it’s addictive!

    • Rebecca – Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed the post :-) – And I really like your suggested warning. I need one of those myself! You are so right that it’s dangerously easy and addictive to buy e-books. And once you have them, they store so easily and neatly….yes, definitely addictive.

  15. All very true points. And yes, although many of these points apply to paper books, if a publisher is making additional revenue from a book they have already sold in paper by issuing an e-version, they could assign a small amount of that potential revenue to cleaning up the formatting.

    Another one for your list “sorry this ebook is not available in your geographical region (at all or at the price you have seen in another region).

    Also – be aware that we can delete this book from your reader at any time as you are not buying the book only a licence.

    • Maxine – Agreed completely about the formatting of some e-books. And I’m so glad you brought up a warning about geographical regions. I tried to think of a clever way to put that issue in, but couldn’t: yours is much better. And thanks for the one about licensing too: that hasn’t happened to me (yet), but I know it does happen.

  16. These are wonderful Margot. I’ve just recently gotten a Kindle and am still trying to get use to it. However, I have definitely run into the problem with the book not downloading properly and being unable to get help. Thanks so much for the laugh. I guess we’re all book addicts, no matter what form they come in. :)

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

    • Mason – Thank you :-) – Glad you enjoyed the post. Congratulations on your Kindle! They really are terrific even if they aren’t exactly perfect. ;-) I hope you’ll get a great deal of pleasure out of using it.

  17. Clever post, Margot! I’m like te others…I should have a warning pop up that I’m not allowed to buy anymore books until I’ve read the ones I’ve already purchased!

  18. kathy d.

    I don’t have a Kindle nor do I buy e-books, obviously. I am a Luddite, a contented one. I can always find a remaindered book online at Abe Books or elsewhere, if not at the library, or kind souls lend me copies.
    I did read a paperbook recently, independently published, with lots of typos, including a line jump — that drives me bonkers.
    This post is a lot of fun. It makes me feel like I’ll be jumping into the abyss if I get a Kindle. At least paperbooks are in my hand, are tangible, won’t vanish because Amazon says so.

    • Kathy – There’s no doubt about it; it’s not just e-books that have typos, line jumps and other problems. And you’re by no means the only one who doesn’t own a Kindle and has no plans to get one. I happen to love mine, but the fact is, I would never want to give up my paper books. I love them, too.

  19. I know you were only partly serious but… For years I resisted getting an e-book reader. However, I just got a Samsung tablet and have read 2.5 books with the Kindle App (and a free ebook reader). I am glad I had it for my trip and my husband and I are enjoying the other aspects of having a tablet… but it is easy to download more than you can read. We are doing well so far.

    I do shy away from free books for the reasons you mentioned but I was finally able to get Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen’s The Cozy Knave (not free) so I can try it out. With my eyes, it was easier to read Helen Reilly’s The Dead Can Tell with the Kindle app than read the Dell Mapback edition with tiny print.

    But in the end, I like a paper copy and a real cover. I love book covers.

    • Tracy – I’m glad you’ve so far had good experiences with your Kindle app. As you say, it’s really easy to download more than one means to, so it’s good to hear you’ve been able to resist thus far…
       
      I’m very glad too that you got the chance to read The Cosy Knave – I enjoyed it very much. And you’ve brought up one thing I like about e-books as well. One can make the print larger if one needs to. Of course there are plenty of large-print books and audio books out there and that’s a wonderful development for folks who cannot read or whose eyes need extra help. But it is nice to be able to adjust backlighting, font size and so on.
       
      All that said, though, I treasure my paper books, too…

  20. Margot –

    Your Order Cannot Be Completed.

    Have you even LOOKED at your Kindle lately? Since last June, you have downloaded 437 books, of which you have read exactly 15. The lack of a physical TBR pile doesn’t make this kind of hoarding any more appealing. Come back when you’ve read at least a hundred.

  21. Hilarious post, Margot and I think you nailed it. I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this one since I am now catching up with reading your blog and short on time — warning: this ebook will expire in 14 days (some digital only stores will only allow so many downloads before it expires) and another warning: this ebook cannot be loaned or shared with friends and family (that one is a bit thorny but that’s one of the biggest differences between print and digital). Some titles are lendable and I think with Amazon you can borrow one book per month.

    As an aside, Fictionwise is closing down. It was one of the firsts to champion ebooks. I had bought over 600 ebooks there and I am at their mercy of which titles are transferable. It might be 10 titles or 20 but not all of them will be transferred to B&N their parent company. When I started reading ebooks in 2004, I pretty much knew the risks going in and as ebook readers, we’ve had some debacles to get through. But it’s my format choice and I enjoy it, risks and all. I do wish they would do better with the formatting though. Ok, rambling alert. Will stop there. Thanks for the funny post (albeit I’m late getting to it).

    • Keishon – Why, thank you :-) – And no worries about rambling. I do the same thing. I really do like your additional warnings too. I hadn’t thought about the whole book-lending issue with e-books when I prepared this post but you are so right about that. Some titles can be borrowed; others can’t. I do like the ease with which one can lend a paper book to someone. And right you are about book licenses too. Even after one’s paid for an e-book, it can disappear at any time – for any reason. I’m not crazy about that either. But still, I do like e-books. There is so much to recommend them, especially when one’s on the road.
       
      I am sorry to hear of the end of Fictionwise. I can’t say I’ve been deeply involved with them, but it’ll mean all sorts of inconvenience. As you say, consumers will have no say over which of their titles will transfer to B&N and which won’t. Annoying to say the least.

      • This is probably more than you care to know so my apologies ahead of time but Fictionwise was rendered useless when agency pricing kicked in several years ago and since it is shuttering operations it is only accommodating US and UK customers. So most international customers (Hello Canada) are stuck with only backing up their ebooks if they still have access to them. DRM at its worst.

  22. Love my Kindle, wouldn’t be without it – but still laughed like a drain and recognized a lot of this! Well done Margot.

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