On Reading…

I’m incessant book reader, it’s rare to find me without a book somewhere near. I can generally be found perched somewhere, Kindle in hand, immersed in an imaginary world dreamed up from the imaginations of those far more creative than myself (notwithstanding my own book writing attempts). My habit got so bad that a couple of years ago I chose to switch to an ebook reader (the aforementioned Kindle) to use while feeding my addiction because it allowed me to carry multiple books at one time without causing back aches and meant I could continue to build on to my well over a 1,000 book library without needing to buy a larger house (a genuine concern at the time). eBooks allowed my addiction to grow to further and further heady heights. Suddenly, if I finished a book while out and about I wasn’t stuck, I could buy another one and start reading seconds later. The hours I spent reading dizzily spun even more out of control and I’ve loved every second of it.

Never again would I be afraid to try a new author because now I could download free samples allowing me to read a couple of chapters and try things out. Nothing is worse than buying a book based on reviews or the back cover description and getting it home only to realize the writing is so appalling that you can’t make it past the first few pages. Never again would I be forced to make the decision to part with my precious books because of lack of shelf space, they can all be stored on one small device or online.

However, now I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a war and I’m nothing but fodder. Here I am, a passionate reader. For the entirety of my life books have been one of my best friends, as pathetic as that may sound. I’m fairly certain I’ve seen more of the interior of books than I have that large glowing ball of light up in the sky. But I’ve become a second class citizen in the realm of books.

Publishers have decided that I’m not worthy of reading books the day they come out unless I want to go back to dead tree versions. Instead I need to wait, because ebooks are second class citizens. Ignore the fact that the majority of ebook readers are generally the passionate types who love books, we don’t seem to matter. I guess they think we love books enough that we’ll buy those we truly want no matter the format. They ignore the fact that it’s not a hard cover vs. paperback kind of debate. eBooks are a completely new medium that deserve completely different treatment and they need to move with the times.

Well no more. I love books. I have a very long list of authors who I previously would have purchased their most recent book the very day it came out, and that list keeps growing every time I discover a new author (made so much easier by my lovely reading device). But I’m being thwarted by publishers who won’t allow that behavior.

I don’t think publishers are going to listen to anything but money, so that’s what I’ll speak with. If the ebook doesn’t come out the exact same day as the initial release…too bad. I’m just one person, but it’s better than none. Maybe if they see an overall drop in sales of a book when they delay the ebook launch it will mean something.

Publishers, please don’t get caught in the same stupid abyss that the music industry has been and refuse to recognize the digital medium or try and restrain it. I’m never going back to non-digital versions. It isn’t a pricing decision (I can, have, and probably will again discuss that topic, though, so don’t think price doesn’t come into play with ebooks). I don’t see ebooks as an alternative to hard covers or something like that. It’s a convenience choice, it’s a delivery preference. Just as I don’t want CDs cluttering up my house and I want to be able to carry hundreds of them with me easily, I want the same for my books. You don’t see the music industry trying to impose restrictions on when the digital version of an album is released vs. the hard copy, do you? Don’t tell me that the music industry is behaving better than the publishing industry! That’s just sad.

You Don’t Own Me!

Because I work in the email marketing industry, I spend a lot of my day thinking about spam. It’s not really the happiest topic and it’s also not all penis pills or blatant phishing attempts. A lot of perceived spam out there seems to come down to a genuine disconnect between what we as people explicitly ask to hear about and what they as marketers think we want to hear about.

As someone who stands in the middle I’m often the arbiter of these disputes. I’m the person who puts the brakes on those attempts to send completely irrelevant information out to lists and who has to have those amazingly difficult conversations with people about how they may see it as being relevant and recognizable, but the people on their list may not. It’s tougher than it sounds.

After spending many, many hours looking at the issue and debating with end users over their attempts to send out emails that simply aren’t meaningful to their lists and their subscribers I’m starting to think that part of the problem is that feeling of ownership. If everyone would just take a step back and realize that these aren’t your lists, that these are human beings who may (or in some case may not but that’s another story) have asked to hear from you about a specific topic. That doesn’t give you ownership over that address. It doesn’t mean you can suddenly send them anything you want because they once upon a time expressed interest in your company or your product. You don’t own them.

Maybe it harkens to that distasteful area of list purchase and rental. Where you were “buying” addresses or “renting” their usage for a certain amount of time. Well those addresses certainly didn’t belong to the sellers either. Email addresses are not a commodity to be bartered and sold. Let’s stop thinking about them that way. Don’t think of a list as something you want to blast to. Think of it as having a conversation with people. You want that conversation to be relevant to what they asked for. You aren’t shouting into an empty room just hoping and praying someone, somewhere, is listening to you. Have some respect.