Guest Column: What Readers Want From E-books
She does not understand technology, nor does she care to.
What else does she want? Once she converts, she wants all of her titles available in digital. And she wants her favorite author’s backlist in e-book format as well. She wants the e-book to go on sale the same time as the print edition. And she wants the pricing to be competitive.
She would like to be able to organize her books easily, marking titles “read” or “to be read”; adding her rating system to the titles she’s read; and even numbering books in a miniseries.
Early e-book readers are mavens. As an avid genre reader, she is always interested in new writers, a fact digital publishers have taken advantage of by publishing new authors, many of whom—like MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight, Lora Leigh—followed their e-book success with success in the traditional print market.
Publishers have the opportunity to experiment with new voices. At Harlequin, we are taking advantage of just this opportunity through the launch of Carina Press, our digital-only imprint.
I’m not sure if there will be a winner between the multipurpose device or dedicated reader. I believe that avid readers, the women I have written about in this article, will prefer a dedicated reader because it is a more pleasant experience. However, casual readers most likely will use a device that serves multiple functions.
Women who chose the dedicated device want one that can fit into their handbags. It needs to be light and easy to use. And it should be attractive! Sure, there can be gray industrial-looking devices, but since I will be using my e-reader to consume all of my fiction—in other words, a lot—I want it to be stylish. So do many other women.
We’ve managed to convert some of these avid print readers to e-books almost in spite of ourselves, as they’ve discovered the technological hurdles are worth overcoming in order to access the benefits of e-books (speed, convenience, portability). If we want to convert the rest, we need to stop making it hard for them and start making it easy.