Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Real' books vs. electronic books - why does it have to be either/or?

As many of you know, I’m planning on going the indie publishing route with my novel, Blue Sky Days. That means the majority of my books will likely be read on e-readers, even though I’ll eventually have a print copy available. But you wanna know a secret? I don’t even own an e-reader.

I would love to have one, but I am, after all, just a poor writer (emphasis on the poor part), and I can’t afford one right now. I do read e-books on my computer when they’re sent to me for review, and I’ve downloaded one or two books from Amazon for my computer’s Kindle App. I think an e-reader would be handy, especially for traveling so I don’t have to carry a boatload of books with me wherever I go, and also for the times when an e-book is available before the print book, or is the only option because there is no print book.

That being said, I LOVE print books. I love the feel of them, the look of them, the smell of them - I love everything about them. One day a few months ago, after I’d been to the library, a friend asked me jokingly ‘do they still have books there?’ I think as long as there are people like me – and I know for a fact I’m not alone in this feeling – there will always be books in print. I support the electronic book movement 100%, but I would never want people to think that just because I’m publishing an e-book means I don’t support traditionally published authors, or people who only make their books available in print.

My question is: why does it have to be either/or? If you love print books, it’s not like having an e-reader is the equivalent of having a scandalous affair behind your books’ backs. And it’s not cheating on your e-books if you suddenly decide you must have a certain book in paperback or hardcover. I grew up in a house full of books, and my children will grow up in a house full of books, but there will also be e-readers available to them if that's what they want. If the whole electronic movement had happened 20 years ago, I’m sure my parents would have happily bought me an e-reader if it meant I’d continue my love affair with reading. I really don’t understand the either/or mentality some people have. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that much I do understand, but times are changing, and if you don’t at least have an open mind, I think you’re going to be left behind wondering what happened.

How do you feel about this issue? Are you an either/or person? Why? Do you think 'real' books will soon become a thing of the past and that e-readers will take over completely, or do you think paper books will always be around? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I'm a "both". I just want to read. I am surprised by the fact I often pick ebooks over print books when offered the choice. I always thought I would pick the tangible book over an e-copy, but I can read so much faster using an e-reader so I find myself picking ebooks more often.

  2. I don't have an ereader, but I do read a lot of ebooks on my computer (for reviews and such). I think I'm a "both" too. "Curling up with a good book" is better than "curling up with my computer." The latter makes it feel more like work. But I do want an ereader for travel and such. Cause I'm like you, half the weight of my bag is books when I travel!

  3. I view eReaders as simply another way to get the product to the consumer. While I certainly have my issues with eBook pricing I don't think it's an either/or situation.

    I have a nook and still read paper books. I don't think eReaders will replace paper books anytime soon - yes, they'll cut into their sales but consider that many eReader users will not buy those paper books anyway.

    However, we live in a country of extremes where the pendulem swings to the left or right but never stays in the center - and that's te way we think.

    By the way: you got an answer to your post on my blog

  4. I know what you mean, I love my books, I may have some OCD issues going on with them having to match and not breaking the spine, and i have 5 bookcases full of them. But I have just got myself an e-reader, mainly so its easier for me to read books for review, but its so much easier to carry 50 book on one thing, than carrying an actual 50 books.

    I can also change my mind, I may start a book but decide I want to start another one, and rather than having to hunt through my shelves all I have to do is press a few buttons and i'm done.

    I think in my heart though I will always be an actual book person. :D

  5. I can't say I have had any experience with e-readers other than PDF files from college classes - HOWEVER...for a quick find my pdf file is great for class but when I am trying to actually study and get something from it I like to have paper in front of me to write, highlight --- take notes on ETC....I cannot figure out how to do so in Adobe with class PDF's....

    I'm totally for either one and not an either or type person - it's whatever serves the moment best for me :)

  6. I'm an "all of the above" gal, actually. I have an e-reader, a smart phone, and I read them on my computer. I love books--mostly hard covers, but I do read paperbacks as well. I love a good story and the format matters not. If it's good, I'll read it and review it.

  7. I love paper books, always have and always will. But I think the e-book boom is one of the best things that has happened. There are a lot of wonderful authors I would never have discovered if not for the indie way.

    The regular publishing way takes a long time, and personally, I don't have that kind of time. I work full time and have a lot of responsibility with my family. Even if I did have enough free time to query publishers, I wouldn't have enough time for other expectations (book tours and signings, etc). If I would publish my book as an e-book, I can get the process started.

    I think that most e-book authors do want to see their book make it to the printed page. So I completely agree with you on people still wanting printed books. E-books have their convenience in many ways, but they don't completely replace books.

  8. I'm definitely a both person. Although most of my book purchases of late have been ebooks, there are a few releasing coming out that I will get in paperback. I guess i tend to save paperback now for authors I love and want to show off on my book shelf. Not that I don't love the authors I buy ebooks from. They just aren't my all time favorite I have to have this book by them authors.

    Am I making sense? lol

  9. I read both. I have an ereader and I enjoy it but I still regularly borrow real books from the library and purchase them for my collection. An ereader almost encourages me to spend more money on books. If I read a ebook and love it, I will go out and buy the hard copy.

  10. Six months ago I would have said I loved print books only. But then I had some of my work published electronically and I bought an e-reader. Now I love both. If it's a book I want to keep and treasure forever, I'll buy print. But if I want to try something new, review some ARCs etc, I'll use the e-reader. I would say I now work on a 50/50 split between the two and I love the freedom of choice that offers.

  11. I am a big fan of both. I read faster with my ereader, and love the exposure to self-published authors that it gives me. But I also love sharing books with my sister, and being able to read and pass along books. I also find that physical books are better for little kids. I read a lot of them with my son.

  12. I'm so with you. I'm a fan of both. Sure there is nothing like a real book but seriously who can house so many books? I love buying eBooks. PLUS you're so right, it's great for traveling. Great post.

    BTW, LOVE your header. I've always been a sucker for doors in trees.


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