July 29th, 2006 by Potato

I recently tried out Fictionwise, an online ebook store. Putting aside the matter of ebooks for just a sec, I think the store is rather well done. You can set up a micropay account, or pay with a credit card, and they’re pretty good about offering a large number of formats (including Acrobat in almost all cases). Considering it is an ebook they’re offering, the prices are not spectacular: I just bought 9 short stories (all by Robert J. Sawyer) for $5.50 (US); the last book of short stories I bought had 23 and cost $12.54 (including tax), so the cost per story is just about the same. Perhaps the whole business with the ink, paper, and shelf space doesn’t cost as much as one would assume… though I suspect agreements not to undercut traditional publishers has more to do with it.

I did find it somewhat awkward to browse through their catatlogue, but that was more due to the nature of browsing for books online than anything specific to Fictionwise (I have the same problems with Amazon, though at least Amazon’s default font is a bit bigger).

“Books belong to a special class of inventions that have not been much improved over the years because they are already so very good, such as with the hammer, knife, or spoon. The computer will never fully replace that.”

Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found that quote, but it’s very true. I read a ton on my screen at work, and perhaps even more once I get home, so I don’t really have any problem with the concept of an ebook. But it will never really replace a printed book for me. I’m most comfortable reading short stories on my computer, since I find the worst part about the electronic versions (well, after the eye strain and inability to lounge around) is how hard it is to mark your place and come back to it later. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider buying an e-novel — I have read novel-length documents off the screen, and will again — but most of my long-format reading will be done with a real book. To me, there’s an added level of inconvenience associated with a long story on the screen, so I’d expect more of a discount than what I’ve seen with the short stories (also, buying single novels takes away the convenience/choice bonus of buying individual short stories rather than the hit-and-miss assortment often seen in printed collections).

One Response to “Fictionwise”

  1. Rez Says: is offering access to their collection for free until August 4th!