Friday, February 11, 2011

Kepler's and Google eBooks

Are you curious about Google eBooks™? Confused? Pondering why, exactly, a mortar and brick, independent, positively old-fashioned bookstore like Kepler's is now offering you books on electronic as well as paper pages?

(HINT: A book is a book is a book.)

Read on, friends. Sarah Langlais, the intrepid and brilliant manager of, would like to tell you about the pleasures of adding eBooks to your reading repertoire. She is quite on the ball about technology in general and the intersection of books and technology in particular, and, as any of you who have personally corresponded with her when buying books from the Kepler's website know (personal correspondence, yes... that's the indie bookstore difference, folks), a very smart cookie.

Sarah Langlais
Megan Kurashige: Why is Kepler’s selling e-books? And why Google eBooks™ in particular?

Sarah Langlais: Kepler's understands that eBooks are part of the future. We want to provide book-lovers with a product they can use, whether it be a physical book OR an eBook.

We're working with Google because Google is interested in providing an open format that allows all indie bookstores to compete in the eBook playing field.

MK: I love Kepler’s. How does buying a Google eBook support Kepler’s?

SL: Kepler's makes money off every eBook you buy from! So if you love eBooks, but want to support us, buying Google eBooks from is the way to go.

MK: Why would YOU buy a Google eBook?

SL: I've already bought several. They're easy to use, easy to read, and just as simple as ordering from Amazon. I'm already an eBook convert. While I will never give up physical books, eBooks are my favorite new thing when I’m traveling or commuting. They are also a wonderful way to support your local independent bookstore while still enjoying digital functionality.

MK: How do they work?

SL: Google eBooks are stored in a "cloud" bookshelf, not on your computer (although most come with a downloadable file). This means that you can access your bookshelf from anywhere in the same way that you can access your email from anywhere. You can pull your book to different devices, and sync across your devices (I often go from iPhone to computer to iPad).

MK: What’s the selection like? And how much do they cost in comparison to regular books?

SL: The selection is fantastic. You can buy everything from old, hard-to-find books to the latest bestsellers. Many prices are set by the publisher, but they are always cheaper than the physical edition. Where prices have not been set by the publisher, we have discounted titles 20 to 30% to remain competitive.

MK: What do they look like? Are they a pleasure to read?

SL: Google eBooks have great formatting options. You have a vast range of font sizes to choose from, which means you never have to worry about buying a book where the print is too small. You can also change fonts, so if you're obsessively fond of Georgia, like myself, you can read all your eBooks in that font. The level of customization available means never having to think a page is ugly.

MK: I still like regular books. Why should I fit Google eBooks into my reading life?

SL: There are always going to be pleasures to owning a physical book. I don't think any book lover will ever want to give up the joy of a particularly lovely hardcover, nor does Kepler's want them to. Where eBooks shine are in places where dragging books along is obnoxious and unwieldy: plane rides, commutes, dim areas (I admit to occasionally reading at a bar), and etc. I also find that if I am unlikely to read a book more than once, I purchase it in an e-format. This saves me from finding space on my already crowded bookshelves.

There's also the pleasure of instant gratification. Did you just read a Kepler's staff review that you loved? You can have the book on your e-reading device right away - no drive or shipping needed.
There you go. If you want EVEN MORE information, head on over to the Kepler's website, where there is a pretty exhaustive collection of information.

We're curious though. What do you think about e-books? Have you read any, and if you have, did you enjoy the experience? Will you be a convert, will you stick to paper, or will you join Sarah (and, in the interest of full disclosure, myself) in happily switching between the two? Please, comment away! Inquiring minds want to know.


Anonymous said...

Like many I railed against ebooks, prematurely moaning about the loss of our beloved print books until I realized they could coexist. I still love the look, feel, and smell of my books and certainly find much more pleasure lingering in the aisles of Keplers, talking to the staff and other customers, than I do clicking on a button. However, with the annotation feature, ebooks are a more practical way to access books I'm using for research. Plus, I and many others I've talked to, read ebooks twice as fast. It's an interesting phenomenon. So I say keep them both. I'll never give up hanging out in Keplers to buy that perfect book and I'll keep enjoying the magic of the digital age.

Melissa Henry

Kepler's said...

We're glad you still enjoy coming into the store... Embracing e-books has been an interesting challenge for us, but we're excited to be looking for ways to really integrate them into our bookstore experience.

We're actually experimenting with adding QR codes to our staff recommendations in the store so people can scan them into their phones and immediately buy the related e-book. So high tech!

Personally, I used to bemoan the rise of e-books too. But when I grudgingly downloaded a few titles to my iphone, I discovered that there are certain situations where e-books are the perfect companion.