Friday, March 23, 2012

Being "Booksy"

There is still a lot of debate surrounding the effect that the ebook has, both on our industry as well as on those who keep us being able to call ourselves an "industry": the readers. Some say it's a travesty, that writing can never be experienced the same way on a touchscreen as it can on a deckle-edged page. Some say otherwise (typically in large groups, conspicuously): that anything that gets more people reading is OK by them.

In all of this, though, I've always had the feeling that something is missing from the discussion. That, really, ebooks aren't a bad thing. That they're not infringing on your right to have a bookshelf full of first edition hardcovers with pages whose smell fills you with joy--but eventually you will have to pay more to fill that bookshelf, just as all those vinyl-philes do to keep their turntables turnin'.

The missing thing is reading. Love of the stories contained in books, rather than their packaging...when did we forget that binding is just a vehicle for getting you the story in a convenient, albeit well-designed way?

I read this (sort of pretentious and college-y feeling, unfortunately) article this morning, about the difference between loving to read and loving to fetish-ize reading (page sniffers!). The author says the following, among other very true things: "Booksing tends to show up as a gushy, shared celebration of the idea of books, rather than of the experience of reading any given one." You can read more here:



  1. I must have had a much higher percentage of musty used books than the PAPER people, because my memories of the feel/smell of paper books are a bit more mixed.

  2. I find it less urgent to finish an e-book than I do to finish a physical book. If I leave a print book by my bedside, that is what I will pick up when it's time for bed. I don't start another one, because that's the one right there and the others are either on my "to be read" shelf or my bookcases.

    But I find with e-books I can put them down and look to the next big thing that just arrived. It just makes it easier to put down a frustrating read.

    Maybe if I kept only one book a time on my Kindle Fire it might be different, but still ... I'm sadly reluctant to do that.

    That said, I edit my manuscripts using a Kindle and a paper notebook. I find editing on a computer makes it too easy to mangle and make things worse, while having the fixed test of the e-reader and the wide open space of the notebook is a good combination for consideration, thought and improvement.

  3. I think people fear what they don't know. e-books give more people wider access to books. I have friends who used to read 1 or 2 books a year, if that, who now read more regularly because they can download books onto their phone or ipad. Lots of people who want the lastest thing - ipad - are literally looking for ways to use it or to justify the purchase.

    I have an ereader but I use it about 30% of the time, mostly bc I go to author signings where I like to buy a book, or I'm trading paperbacks with a friend. It doesn't have to be one or the other; we can be a hybrid society!

  4. I haven't read the article yet, but this is an interesting post. I received an e-reader as a gift and probably never would have purchased it otherwise, but I'm so glad it was given to me. I enjoy reading books on it almost more than reading a physical book.

    I think the only shame with an e-reader is that you can't lend/share books. But maybe that's a good thing. A book isn't like a CD or even a DVD for most people. A lot of readers don't read the same books over and over again. It may be a benefit to authors that lending is so restricted on e-readers. And why not? They put so much time into writing the book, they deserve the sales.

    I really agree with the sentiment in the quote. We read to enjoy the story. What difference does the medium really make? I read an interesting article in the New York Times that talks about the affect of fiction on the brain, and although it doesn't compare e-readers to printed books, it does draw some comparisons between TV shows and stories/movies. I don't think the medium we read really matters (unless it matters to the individual) as much as our personal engagement with the story.

  5. The world moves faster than life, and if the best way to find time to read is ebooks or holographic glasses, I'm for it.

    My reluctance to switch to ebooks is similar to Nathan's (out of sight...) I read fiction but most of my books are non-fiction and reference. If I need to reread something because I forgot some details, it's easier if I can actually see the book rather than trying to remember the name of the book that has the info I need.