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Would you give digital books this holiday? Why not?

So, my mom and I got my Dad an iPad for Father’s Day. I know a lot more of those, as well as Amazon Kindles, will be given out this holiday season. Chances are your mom, dad, or other family member who is just getting their hands on one of these nifty devices has never read an ebook before.

Why not pre-load their virtual bookshelf with some ebooks to get them started? Suggestions for baseball titles available in ebook form are welcome in the comments below, but here are a few of my own.

I got started thinking about this topic for obvious reasons: since I took the Publications position at SABR, I’ve been working to launch more digital books under the SABR umbrella. The first big one just went live and the timing is no coincidence. We wanted to make sure that “Can He Play?”– the definitive book on the history of scouts and scouting, produced by SABR’s Scouts Committee–would be live and available by the time all those holiday e-readers were unwrapped.

Some intro info in case you’re new to this, too. The three biggest players in the ebook device wars each comes equipped to buy from a dedicated online store, but you DON’T HAVE TO stick to that one outlet if you don’t want. Here are the setups the manufacturers want.

  • Kinde: Amazon’s Kindle Store
  • Nook: Barnes & Noble Nookstore
  • iPad/iPod/iPhone: Apple iBookstore

But note that you can run the Kindle app on the iPad, for example. The Kindle store sells files in .amz format but files that are purchased elsewhere in .MOBI or .PRC format can be read by your Kindle, too. The iPad can also run other e-reading software that takes the ePub format, which the Nook also uses. (Basically, EVERYONE now uses EPUB except for Amazon.)

But let’s not rock the boat to get started. Assuming you’ll start with your “native” online bookstore before branching out. Here are some of the gems one can get:


by Michael Lewis
If you’re like me, you read this book back in 2003, then lent it to someone and never got it back. After seeing the movie, I wanted to re-read it. So I downloaded a new copy. The paperback costs $15.95. The ebook is about half that.
Kindle Store $8.29
B&N Nookstore $8.29
Apple iBookstore $8.29

by Jonah Keri and the Baseball Prospectus crew
Many people have said that after Moneyball opened their eyes to the actual relevance of stats on the game and how they have been used and mis-used, the next book they read was Baseball Between the Numbers. Full disclosure, I’m working for Baseball Prospectus myself now, but I thought they were keen long before that (and that’s why I wanted to work with them).
The book only seems to be available in the Kindle store right now. I couldn’t find it on Nook or Apple. The Apple iBookstore is almost impossible to search, though, which is one of its biggest drawbacks. You have to know what you’re looking for. More on this later.
Kindle Store $9.87

by Ian O’Connor
This book about Derek Jeter came out this past April. I feel the publisher has priced the ebook a little high–and if you look you’ll see it’s priced differently at different stores! Curious, no? See the list below. At this point O’Connor probably needs to write a revision that includes him reaching 3000 hits, too, but they’ll probably wait until he retires to revise.
The hardcover list price is $26.
Apple iBookstore$12.99 ebook
B&N Nookstore$15.60 ebook (they sell the hardcover for $17.33)
Amazon Kindle Store$9.10 ebook (they sell the hardcover for $17.16)

THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle
by Jane Leavy
While we’re talking about great Yankees, if you’re a Yankees fan of a certain age and haven’t read this bio of Mantle yet, you probably should.
Nookstore $9.99
Amazon Kindle Store $9.99
Apple iBookstore $9.99

One of the coolest things about ebooks, though, is that they are just as easy to get from small publishers as from the big guys. Publishers who have almost no chance of making it onto what little physical shelf space is left in America’s shrinking book retail world can now reach readers through digital.

Here are some of the lesser known books I should mention:

by Bill Nowlin and several other researchers
Built around a biographical essay on the life and career of Pumpsie Green, the first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox, the last major league team to integrate, Pumpsie & Progress offers essays from a half-dozen authors on matters ranging from Jackie Robinson to the Red Sox of today. Because of a pricing glitch, this ebook was $14.20, but now it’s $9.99. Right now it’s only available on the Kindle Store, but Rounder Books may expand their ebook program in the future to other formats.
Amazon Kindle Store $9.99

In keeping with the theme, how about this one?

Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League

by Martha Ackerman
Amazon Kindle Store

Or how about this gem? I haven’t read it yet, but the professional reviews look very promising:

Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams
by Gary Moore

I’ll just quote the BOOKLIST Review: “Gene Moore, from tiny Sesser, Illinois, was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at age 15 in 1940. After Pearl Harbor, the Dodgers arranged for him to be a member of a traveling U.S. Navy baseball team to entertain troops in the European theater. Eventually, the team was assigned stateside to guard a select group of German prisoners in Louisiana. The Germans had been captured when their submarine, the U-505 (now a featured attraction at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry), experienced mechanical problems in the vicinity of Allied warships. The story of the relationship that developed between the prisoners and their guards is a fascinating one. [Gene teaches them to play baseball. -ctan] … A moving profile of one, nearly unknown member of the Greatest Generation.”
Amazon Kindle Store $9.99

I discovered the above book, by the way, from a niche bestseller list on Amazon, which lists the top sellers for the Kindle on the subject of Baseball History. You can see that list here:

And look what’s already cracked the top ten! The book I just worked on for SABR, the Scouts book, CAN HE PLAY?

CAN HE PLAY? collects the contributions of 26 members of the Society for American Baseball Research on the subject of scouts, including biographies and historical essays. The book touches on more than a century of scouts and scouting with a focus on the men (and the occasional woman) who have taken on the task of scouring the world for the best ballplayers available. In CAN HE PLAY? we meet the “King of Weeds,” a Ph.D. we call “Baseball’s Renaissance Man,” a husband-and-wife team, pioneering Latin scouts, and a Japanese-American interned during World War II who became a successful scout—and many, many more. The legendary Tom Greenwade and the development of the New York Yankees scouting system, interviews with former players Johnny Pesky and Fernando Perez about being scouted, and much more.

Amazon Kindle Store $9.99
B&N Nookstore $9.99
OmniLit $9.99 (.mobi, .epub, and .pdf all for sale here)

There’s much more to discover in the digital realm, so much more than the one-size-fits-all conglomerate chain bookstores could ever serve.

Hey, maybe I should do a Why I Like Baseball ebook…

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

One Comment

  1. otherdeb wrote:

    The books you mention all sound great, but I have a small suggestion — given how everyone is trying to save money lately, make sure Overdrive is downloaded to the device you are giving so that these may be borrowed as ebooks from the library.

    One of the nice things about Overdrive is that it lets you browse libraries other than your local one.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

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