Are e-books a waste of your time and money?

A few days ago I was listening to a mentor whom I admire deeply talk about ebooks and how to use them as a marketing tool. She said something that made my blood run cold, confirming my suspicions about e-books often being a waste of both your time and money.

What did she say?

She said, “Don’t put too much information in your ebook, just enough to whet their appetite so that they come back for more! Besides, if you give too much information up front you’ll overwhelm them.”

Personally I totally disagree.  I think marketers have no right to play god by deciding how much information people can handle. When you buy an ebook you expect to get all the information you need, not just a tease.

Actually ebooks are a very strange phenomena. People are willing to pay more than double for a ebook than the printed variety because it can be accessed immediately. At the same time you still have to print them out yourself or attempt to read them on the computer screen.

Research shows that people remember far less information when it is read on a screen rather than off a printed page.

Why is this?

Because the human eye is designed for reflected rather than radiant light.

Long term we need to come up with a way for computer screens to reflect light rather than radiate it.  When this is achieved it will be a massive leap for humankind.

Back to immediate gratification. I was shocked to learn from another source that more than 80% of the people who buy an ebook will never actually get round to reading it.

Why not?

Because buying an ebook feels like you are taking action on a pain. You don’t feel that pain as sharply once you’ve bought the book.  Your mind tells you you’ve solved the problem. So then the tendency is to put off reading it, until you forget you actually bought it and soon you’re back to square one and ripe again to buy another ebook on the same topic.

Another problem with ebooks is the pricing. These days unscrupulous online marketers have access to highly sophisticated research based on cutting edge psychological testing.

What do they know that you don’t?

They know that you are more likely to buy an ebook if it is priced as $97 than if it is priced much lower. Say, $22.


Partly because of perceived value.  You’ve been trained to believe that if it is more expensive it must be better value. (This isn’t always true!)

Also, numbers are mysterious. There is a whole ‘science’ about this called numerology (which, like palm reading is another whole minefield of debate. But, just because theories conflict, doesn’t mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater.) Fact is, an awful lot of money has been invested on researching which prices work and which don’t.

So people who don’t know about this are highly vulnerable to abuse.

Is this you? Are you downloading lots of over priced ebooks without actually reading them?

Or are you a marketer laughing all the way to the bank because people are so gullible or easily distracted? And, if it’s so easy to take candy from children does that mean you should do it?

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64 thoughts on “Are e-books a waste of your time and money?

  1. mark@bunn coffee makers Reply

    So many marketers do use e-books as a tease, so I appreciate you saying that. It seems like you were scammed if the e-book or “how-to” book does not deliver.

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  3. Rod@Tennis Ball Machines Reply

    I certainly would feel cheated if I paid good money for an ebook which was only a teaser to something else. I can understand that kind of strategy with free ebooks, but if you buy something you expect to get some value for your money.
    I guess that’s one reason why I very rarely buy ebooks (in fact, I don’t think I ever have) – the fact that it’s so easy to create one has removed all the quality controls of traditional publishing, controls which ultimately protect the consumer from this sort of thing.

    Rod’s last blog post..Lobster tennis ball machines

  4. Latin men Reply

    For health reasons I don’t like reading via my computer or my mp4 or from any e-book players. I can’t stand reading from my digital stuffs longer.

  5. Large Print Reader Reply

    Very interesting post and final statement.
    I work for a company that publishes accessible formats (large print, braille, DAISY, audio, and ebooks) of books for people with blindness, low vision, and learning disabilities, so I’m always interested in what people think about new technologies in the publishing industry.

  6. loans Reply

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.If interested in link exchange please contact me.

  7. ANSH@Phrasal verbs and meaning Reply

    Well i don’t think so that it is a waist of time to read ebooks because it is best then the conventional books. One more thing which makes the ebooks so special is that it is easy to handle and use.

  8. Jack@Consumer reviews Reply

    I think it all depends on how often you use it. Like if you have lots of free time or you travel a lot, that it could be a good investment. If you work all day and don’t dedicate a lot of time to reading than its something you need not.

  9. Patrick Helmer Reply

    I don’t think that e-books are lost oh money.We can use it’s features in many ways.So it’s really silly to think that e-books are a waste of time.

  10. Gmatprep Reply

    I don’t agree with the idea that e-books are a total waste of time and money.In this age when internet is the greatest way to get information on anything e-books play an important role..they are informative and helpful in general but surely there can be some books that are not that good.Yet the whole thing can’t be judged with the idea of bad e-books only.

  11. Sell home Reply

    e books are the best way to get information from all over the world.. but i have faced a problem with e books, that i don’t like to read sitting in front of a computer..

    • Jena Griffiths Post authorReply

      The human eye is designed for relected light rather than radiant light so the brain cant recall nearly as much of what you read on screen as you do on paper.

  12. Nathan@401k advisors Reply

    I think it just depends on how you like to read and how you store your reading material after you are done with it. The information is what your paying for no matter what the source it comes from.

  13. Computer Repair Reply

    Now, here’s a topic that can be discussed for hours on end. Personally, here’s what i think:

    An e-book which is beyond ~ 50 pages will be ignored most of the times for reasons like – strain related to reading via computer etc..

    A power packed 50 pages revealing 75% of the content that people are seaking would be an ideal option. The trick is to hold back the MASALA to the last for people to OPT-IN 🙂

  14. Von Voitier Reply

    Hey, first I want to say awesome blog. I don’t always agree with your opinion but it’s always a nice read.
    Keep up the good work.

  15. jinnie@Tunnelling Jobs Reply

    This is one of the most logical and nicely explained post I have read. Most people just iterate what others already know, but this reflects of your experience as an expert. Thanks for the tips.

  16. olivia@phrasal verbs list Reply

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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    Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me.

  18. QUEENIE Reply

    Bless you. Still one more quality way of looking at things, that’s precisely why we come back to your website every so often!!

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  20. analytics pricing Reply

    I never considered a book, even if it is in a pdf format a waste of my time and money. Even more if you are lucky enough you will find e-books for free. Nowadays Internet is the best source to find everything you need at a minimum price, sometimes for free.

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