Benjamin Tate–aka Joshua Palmatier–has four novels on the shelf, the most recent being WELL OF SORROWS, an epic, dark fantasy with covered wagons. He has also written a short story and helped edit the anthology AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR. Check out his other short stories–and the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy–at www.joshuapalmatier.com and www.benjamintate.com.
First of all, thanks to The Night Bazaar for inviting me to guest blog today! I really appreciate the opportunity.
I thought I’d talk a little bit about ebooks. Not a post about how they’re steadily taking over the market with a bunch of numbers to throw at you. Not a post about how the dead-tree print publishers need to figure out how to adapt to handle the new market, or that they aren’t adapting to the new market, or that they’re threatened and on the verge of collapse, or anything even market/publisher related.
I want to talk about ebooks personally. Meaning, what I think about them. And then I’d like to know what YOU all think about them.
First of all, I’m not in denial about ebooks. I realize that this is certainly a wave for the future, one that many will grab hold of and run with. We’ve already seen how the wave has affected authors in the market: we have authors starting out with ebooks, making a name, and then selling to the print markets; we also have print authors abandoning that market and switching over to ebooks; in fact, we have all of the spectrum in between as well, we just hear about the extremes. So ebooks are here and I think they’re here to stay. The print markets can’t deny this any longer and so now, as the publishing world shifts to make room for the digital age, we’re all shifting along with it. This should not have been a surprise. Anyone remember the PADDs from Star Trek? And that was decades ago.
So I know that ebooks are here to stay. In fact, I believe the ebook market will continue to expand (it’s not done yet), until it hits a stabilization level, with a certain percentage of people buying ebooks and the rest continuing to demand print versions. Where that final percentage will fall, I have no idea. My guess would be that the sale of ebooks will by greater than print in the long run, and as time passes, the print market will continue to shrink slowly. It’s only common sense.
And yet . . . and yet . . . I refuse to get an ereader. I don’t WANT ebooks. I, personally, want to have the book there, physically, so I can read it, enjoy it, tote it around with me, and ultimately put it on the shelves in my library. I actually WANT a library. In my final house, I imagine built-in book shelves in nearly all of the rooms (I’ll let the kitchen have shelves for other things . . . perhaps the bathroom). I want the rooms to SMELL of books. I wonder why all of these candle factories haven’t come up with the candle that smells like books yet. I’d buy it. And I’m saying this as a reader of books, a lover of books.
As a writer, I also want the print copy of the book. Getting that package in the mail with your new book inside is special. It’s a SQUEE moment that just can’t be rivaled. And I’m sorry, but having an email or message simply say that your new book has been downloaded to your ereader just won’t evoke the same emotions. My heart won’t quicken, my blood won’t pound, and dancing around the house with the ereader clutched to my chest while I giggle wildly isn’t the same. I mean, how does it know which book inside of it I’m dancing with? It would be like dancing with my entire library all at once and I don’t think I have the stamina for that. No one book would feel special.
In any case, I can’t foresee myself giving up the physical connection I make with a print book as I read it. It’s not just paper, it’s an experience, one that I’m enjoying with this particular author and this particular book. I won’t get that kind of individuality with an ereader. Don’t get me wrong. I see the advantages of an ereader. I could have the entire library at my fingertips at any time. I could finish one book and immediately dive into another. It would certainly help me organize my books better, quicker, and easier than my current put-it-on-the-shelf system (alphabetically, yes, but there’s lots of shifting around). I see the advantages . . . they just aren’t significant enough yet to outweigh the experience of the print version.
I’m also realistic. I refuse to get the ereader now, but I’m sure in the future I’ll have to cave and get one, preferably once they’ve worked all of the kinks out and such. I figure I’ll be forced to by the publishers, because at some point they’re going to have a book I want to read that’s ONLY being released in ebook format. Once that happens, I’ll probably invest in something.
But until then, I want my dead-tree copy, dammit!
What about you guys? Let’s do an informal survey: which do you favor, ebooks or print books? Weigh in and tell us why!