Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To e or not to e, that is the question?

I still like reading books in hard copy, rather than onscreen. But at the same time it annoys me that my desire to read some overseas books not widely available in New Zealand is curtailed by horrendous shipping costs (e.g I would love to read more Canadian crime, but it almost costs more to ship the books to NZ than the books themselves).

And at the same time, overseas readers can be similarly thwarted from trying more great Kiwi crime and thriller writers, because their books aren't widely available in the UK/US, or other Northern Hemisphere markets. So, the idea of e-book availability still has a lot of merit to me (not as a complete replacement for good old fashioned print copies, but as an addition that allows more readers more access to more books).

So I was very pleased to see yesterday's announcement that large New Zealand books chain Whitcoulls (who I have previously been a little scathing of in terms of their stock levels and support for New Zealand crime), are bringing the first mainstream, extensive, e-book service to New Zealand, as of next month. I imagine this may also flow through to benefit our Aussie cousins across the ditch, who likewise can have difficulties accessing territorially-limited e-books (e.g. from the likes of Amazon etc).

According to Claire McEntee in the Dominion Post, "Book lovers will be able to snap up any of two million electronic books from next month through the website of retailer Whitcoulls. New Zealanders will also be able to buy a matching e-reader, but can download and read the e-books on personal computers, smartphones and tablet devices such as the Apple iPad. The service will be the first mainstream digital books offering in New Zealand, despite e-books being widely available overseas for years."

I hope that this development may help New Zealand crime and thriller writers get more attention as well, although we will have to see, as later in the article it's said that: "Between 30 and 40 New Zealand publishers have committed to digitising their books and hundreds of New Zealand books are available in the digital format, as opposed to thousands... But there will be some more as we progress through the year and get some of these basic things in place for publishers..."

You can read the full story here.

So, to e or not to e, that is the question? Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. Craig - Thanks for sharing this good news. I am actually all for E-books. I do enjoy reading an actual, paper book. However, as you say, it's sometimes just not practical. I see the E-book as just another step in the evolution of the way we read. If it gets more readers reading, I say, "Why not?" As you say, it remains to be seen how it works out, but I think it's good news.

  2. Like the turquoise, Craig. Looks very elegant in my browser.

    I am a boring type, so I'll be sticking with the print format. I can see that my teenage family think I am a bit weird in this regard, though, so this puts me in my place.

    I have to admit I am beginning to wonder about my holiday. last year I crammed in 14 books, had to buy a few more while away and then leave a few behind in the hotel room. So I am wavering about some other format......