I love e-books not for reasons of convenience or storage. I find those arguments ridiculous. I’ve always found a place for my books. Maybe not where normal people store them, but there is always a spot under a table, beneath a bed, in a spare closet or cupboard. I was always very fond of our house with that huge hanging closet over the toilet. After the first shelf was used for spare rolls of toilet paper, I found it a great spot for books. I mean, don’t we all have a little bathroom reading? So why not store books there next to other bathroom supplies? As a mother, that was sometimes the quietest place to go. But anyway, book storage discussion: I always found a place. Maybe I’m not as neat as some people, but I enjoyed looking at what others were reading in case I was missing an author or book. A little book clutter was, at times, a great resource for my research and to start discussions with strangers. An uncluttered entertaining area is so boring. Especially if it just has a big screen starring back at people. Clean and sterile living rooms and homes make me think sterile minds or obsessed television addicts live in them.
And if everyone has an e-reader or keeps their books on an electronic device, how will we be able to snoop on others’ reading? Televisions are getting bigger (an 80-inch is not unheard of in most people’s homes). And driving through neighborhoods, their apartments or houses may look small but they’ve got at least one wall covered with a screen or monitor. But where are their books? On a computer? How does that help us get distracted from doing boring chores? Or to start a conversation? Or to find a new book we may have missed?
So why do I like e-books? Because e-books are the next best thing for a reader, as long as you’ve figured out how to read them on a device. E-books are the places where writers are taking chances. The books I buy are usually shorter and consumed quickly, like on a lunch break. Because my eyes get tired reading and if the story drags on too long I get bored too. But I don’t want it to be a serial; I want a beginning, middle and definitely an end all nicely tied up in one package.
E-books allow small presses to make enough money to survive. And the small presses are generally the places you’ll find the cutting-edge stories. You can see the new face of series romances at Entangled Publishing. They’ve got it right with a good price, usually around $2.99 for a well-edited story. Some of my favorite authors have moved to the smaller presses while not abandoning the larger publishers who still bring out paper books (which are so important to me, the re-reader). And the big publishers are developing lines which are just e-books, where you’ll find great stories and often fresh talent. Think of it as a testing ground for burgeoning authors. Carina Press tries out an author on us and if they really work out well, we’ll be able to get the book in the print version in a year. Just like the hardcover versus the mass market paperback model. If I love an author enough I’ve always managed to put together the money for the hardcover or taught myself to wait to get the mass market. It’s tough, but doable. I just hope other big publishers jump on the bandwagon of using e-eooks to start us out with new-to-us authors, but then follow up with hard copies.
Finally, e-books are cheaper. Well, they are for me. Because I won’t buy an e-book over $4.99. Sorry, but that’s the maximum I’ll spend. If I’m going to pay more, it better be in paper. I want it durable. Because you see, I don’t consider an e-book durable. It’s temporary and it WILL disappear. If I find a book I really like in e-book format, I’ll go and buy it in paper or hardcover. Why? Because I’ve been around technology for 35 years and I’ve found if you want to keep something it better be printed and not on flimsy paper, either. I’ve got old boxes of diskettes with all kinds of records on them that I doubt I’ll ever be able to access again. My husband has albums—you know, vinyl—and he spends a fortune on keeping a turntable to play them or to “rip” them into his latest music player or phone or whatever. And let’s not even start with the movies and television shows he has on VHS and CDs and now BluRays. Thank goodness he never went down the Betamax road. But there we are. And it’s already apparent that there will be different versions of delivery and format as companies come, go and “enhance.” Or keep everything in the “cloud.”
Books are too important to me to leave to the tech developers to manage. So I have my little library of 30,000 or so books that keeps growing every week. And a smaller library of a couple thousand of disposable reads on a variety of devices: Kindle, e-pub, Nook, pdf and even I’m afraid, HTML.
What about you? Are you convinced that e-books are the way to go? Do you keep a stockpile of your favorite old books? How much will you spend on an e-book?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual readers conference, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.