This is such a touchy subject nowadays, especially since ebooks just recently outsold traditional books.
Sure, the numbers are there, but let’s think about how easy it is to go onto Amazon, buy a ton of ebooks for the price of one hardcover without leaving your chair and then sitting back to read those books all without leaving your house. Sure, that’s easy and completely doable. I’m to blame, I love buying books regardless if they’re electronic or paper. Having material to read is all that’s important.
However, since the debate is to pick one or the other, I’d have to say that I love traditional paper books more. They fill my book case. An ereader doesn’t do that. There’s nothing like walking through a bookstore, or looking at my bookshelf and looking at a bunch of great titles to pick from, picking one up, reading the back cover, flipping through the pages, reading a random excerpt and making a decision that way.
I find that trying to pick the next book to read is just as fun as reading that next book. I also like the feeling that OH NO! I’m down to nothing to read, time to go to the bookstore!
Half Price Books has been a safe haven for me in recent years. Not just to find something new to read, but to find something new to read that has been read by someone else before. That particular story has been told to someone before me. It has been passed down from person to person. It’s a hand-me-down book, and sometimes those are the best too. My dad and I trade books like they’re going out of style, and if I didn’t have a plethora of great books on hand, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Because my dad isn’t going to ever own an ereader, ever. He’s just not technically savvy like that. And if I couldn’t trade books with him, then an entire part of my love of reading would go away.
As an author there’s such an easy way to get your books out there. Alexandra Sokoloff just recently published (and is still publishing the sequels) a set of books, all ebook. She said that she can get the books out to the masses quickly and efficiently that way without having to wait to get them formatted and printed. There’s a plus side there. If you want to get your work out to the masses quickly, ebook is the way to go.
On the flip side, also as an author I love having a physical copy of my own book. I like being able to read it and show it to people. I just recently gave my sister my Author’s copy of my book Hand One Is Dealt so she could read it. She doesn’t have an ereader either and if I didn’t have a paper copy of my book she wouldn’t have been able to read it. Just like my dad.
Also as an author, I can’t sign copies of ebooks for people. I had a book giveaway when Hand One… came out and I got to sign those copies won by people. That was an awesome feeling, because personally I love to have autographed copies of books. It’s a small collection I have, but it’s an amazing collection for me. Those books were held by the author who wrote them, and were signed by those authors. Regardless of how many they’ve signed, I have a minority of that book, because not all of the books that were printed are going to be autographed, period.
The debate will continue to go on as long as both mediums are there. I fear that one day we’ll have no new published paper books. I think that is a very long way off if it even ever happens, but to think that it could scares me.
Everyone likes to say the smell of a paper book is their favorite thing as well as flipping through the pages. I’m one of them, I love those aspects of a book. To be rid of them would be a horrible thing that would only flip all long gone authors over in their graves. Their printed books are their legacy. Sure I can read Treasure Island on ereader, but if I run out of batteries or the power’s out and my ereader is dead, I can’t sit by the window and read an ebook with the light of the sun. I’d rather have Treasure Island in print.
I think the two are necessary. There will always be fans of both mediums and they should both continue to have a life. Just because ebooks outsold hardcovers recently doesn’t mean hardcovers should go away. Wild West books are at a low point in their tenure, but they still come out. Writers still write them because there will always be a market for them.
Let me put it this way, if print books were to become a thing of the past, there would still be bookstores, such as Half Price Books, selling books that have already been printed. New only bookstores might fade away slowly, but I’m sure even most of them would begin selling and trading the old books just to continue to be in business.
Just like with Wild West/Cowboy stories. One day there may not be an author of that genre anymore, but the old stuff will continue to be sold in bookstores and even on ereader to those of us who want to read them. I think the same will be true of books in general if they ever get killed off.
All I can do is hope though, that in my life I never see the end of the printed book. That would be the death of me.
So what do you think dear reader? What do you prefer? I’m sure you’ve answered this a million times already, but I have to ask again. Despite the pitfalls or triumphs of one form over the other, what do you prefer for yourself? Electronic or paper?