I did not go gladly to the digital; it was mostly out of convenience. As a business traveler, I grew weary carrying pounds of hardback books for flight and night reading. Now, a 10-ounce tablet gives me almost any book I want. Isn’t progress grand?
I’m still getting hard cover books from my library for reading at home, because they’re free and I like to talk to my librarians. I prefer the tactile and visual experience of a book. The page turning for one thing. When I read the Kindle, I’m annoyed at having to touch the screen every 10 seconds to turn the page. I like that books have cover art, photos of the author and different fonts. With a book, you can see your progress: just an inch to go. That little percentage key at the bottom of the ebook page tells me I am 79% finished but 79% of what? (Yikes! I’m channeling Andy Rooney.)
I bought my first book, The Paris Wife, the day my Kindle arrived in December. I have not purchased one since then, getting them free from my local library’s ebook collection. Thanks to a tip from my voracious reader friend Julie V., I’m getting offers of 10 free books a day from Pixel of Ink. I haven’t read anything of the caliber of The Paris Wife for free, but I’ve been entertained.
Frequent readers of this blog know that the 4 Broads are writing books too. No one is published yet – emphasis on the yet because I know it will happen to one of us someday. But it just wouldn’t feel the same to me if my story makes it to the digital realm but never to the library.
And then I read about Amanda Hocking, a 27-year old writer of paranormal fiction for the teen market. She had written more than 17 novels since she was a teenager, and had hundreds of rejection letters from publishers to show for it. Out of desperation, she self published her novels on the Amazon Kindle site, and within months, she was selling thousands. She recently surpassed the million books sold mark – at 27 years old. It could never have happened that fast in the old print world.
Recently, several famous published authors have railed against the e-Book: Jonathan Frantzen laments their impermanence, Maurice Sendak was more passionate about his eBook animosity. I can see why an illustrator like Sendak would hate the digital book.
It's inevitable that both media will survive: real books as an art form and personal treasure; ebooks for convenience and commerce.
Book lovers weigh in on this. Will paper books be extinct for anyone but the rich 50 years from now? Will you care?