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E-book Catalogs are Disappointing

I’ve been slowly moving my paperback purchasing over to e-book purchasing. Using Kindle for Android, I have been enjoying many fine books from Mysteries, to SF and non-fiction. Reading on the Droid phone is very convenient but not as easy as reading on a single-use e-reader. So just as soon as the Kindle 3 ships, I will probably pick one up.

In the meantime, I purchased a Nook from Barnes and Noble. But it’s not really for me as much as my family, more specifically, the kids. Although I suspect the wife will use it on occasion too. I have been slowly acquiring YA fiction for my sons to read. Most new titles are readily available and are priced reasonably. But when I went to find the juvenile works of the three grand master of Science Fiction – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, I was appalled at what was unavailable in e-book form.

For Asimov, none of his juveniles are available and only the first three of his seminal Foundation books are digitized. Heinlein fares better with Space Cadet, Podkayne of Mars and Red Planet being available but no Have Spacesuit Will Travel! Clarke only has 2001 and Fountains of Paradise. These are very weak selections and it makes me sad that so many great books are not yet available as e-books.

Selling author back lists has been in the news lately with agents now acting as e-publishers. But that really doesn’t concern the reader in me. I just want to be able to read the classics of my genre in digital form. I mean SF invented e-books, it’s a little disgraceful that the masters of the genre are so hard to find in that medium. At least you can get The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on your e-reader. I did, it was my first sale on the device.

Another interesting point I noticed while reading through the catalog on the Nook, was the lack of attention to formatting for many titles. It’s obvious that their conversion to epub is both sloppy and pathetic. It may be in B&N’s interest to hire QA folks to approve titles that they sell. Maybe this could even be a new job specialty for editors or HTML and CSS people.

My own book that is available on the Nook, Null_Pointer is one of the sloppy ones. But in my defense, Smashwords converted it for me and submitted it to B&N. For the book’s second edition I will be doing the epub conversion myself. If you are self-publishing e-books you simply must get a physical device to see how your book looks on the intended target. The Nook works great for this process, because you can load your own documents on it with a simple USB connection to a PC. I’m hopeful the PubIt! program that allows self-publishers to add their own titles to the B&N e-book store, will debut soon. I’d like to get my other  titles on the Nook by the end of the summer.

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