March 7, 2013

There's More to ebooks than Kindle

I've been an advocate for independent bookstores for years. (My two favourites in New Zealand are Unity Books in Wellington and The Women's Bookshop in Auckland.) For Unity you need the "unitybooksonline" page and the "ebooks" button and on The Women's Bookshop page the Kobo link is at the very top on the left of the home page. 

I have read a lot about "the death of the book as we know it" and "the death of print" and so on, to which I say "Tosh!" It’s both/and, people, not either/or.

The Ebook market is presently dominated by kindle, an ereader that takes books from the Amazon Kindle store in a format called .mobi that is particular to Kindles. Which means you can only read it on a Kindle device or app, so Amazon creates a circular process whereby you spend your book money with them. 

I want to say out loud: “THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES.” There's another Ebook format, called ePub, which is used for nearly every other Ebook reader than Kindle. New Zealand booksellers have decided to go with a reader called  Kobo, and sell this device. You can also download a free Kobo app to your iPad or smartphone. iBooks is another app for ipads and smartphones that reads ePub.

So you have a Kobo and you want to put some books on it. If you go direct to the website you can buy and download from there. BUT, if you go to the website of your favourite independent bookstore and tap or click on their 'ebooks' button you can go from there to the kobo website and its 3 million books and—this is the important bit—the bookstore gets a cut from the sale. This is a tiny amount, a few cents, but it a) adds up if lots of people do it and b) keeps the independent bookstores in the game; they remain a player in the business of getting the books we want to read to us.

This all seems ponderous written down, but once you've done it a couple of times it's simple enough and, whatever happens in the book retailing world, I want independent bookstores, who are the ones who care about books and readers, to be a big part of it. Independent bookstores are also important to independent publishers, who are also important to us readers. Whether you take your books with or without batteries, support the independents.

PS. My own preference is still for reading books printed on paper. There's something about the physical object I really enjoy. The irony is I didn't appreciate this until I read a couple of books on my ipad. 


  1. Excellent point! Advantage of ipad is I have downloaded apps for Kindle and Nook (US). I almost always download in epub, just in case. Always go as close to the source as possible in virual purchases! [Amanda Palmer thinking]

  2. Thanks for comment. Good point about going as close to the source as possible.