In my last post I talked about editing digitally versus editing on hard copy. Last week Gizmodo posted this opinion piece about e-books versus the “old-fashioned” print versions, and I thought to myself, I really didn’t do any work on my manuscript this week. I should talk about this, instead! By which I mean, the article makes some great points that I wanted to share with you all!
If you read my post last week you can probably guess how I feel about e-books. Honestly, as someone who very publicly enjoys reading and writing, I’m surprised someone hasn’t already bought me an e-reader. I think if they were fifty dollars cheaper I’d have a stack of ten Kindles next to my fifteen journals people always seem to think I’ll love. But the truth is, I don’t really get it.
Yes, it stores all of your books in one place so you don’t have to store them all, but to be honest, I love the idea of having a library. I don’t know about you, but five-year-old me really internalized that scene in Beauty and the Beast where the Beast presents Belle with that ridiculous (read: amazing) library with shelves so high you needed a totally cute 18th century ladder to reach everything. Come on. You want one of those.
And speaking of libraries, what do I do if I already have one and I want to incorporate it into my e-library? Hsieh makes a great point about that in her article. She writes, “Unlike music or photographs, there is no way to migrate an old book library into a new one. Over the past decade, I’ve been able to convert my tapes to CDs, my CDs to MP3s, and now import my MP3s into Spotify and listen to music over the cloud. Yet, if I want to read my favorite books on my Nexus 7, I have to pay for a separate e-book version, assuming one even exists.” That’s a really good way to put it.
I think my issue is that I love old, inconvenient things that aren’t as efficient. With other technologies and digital media, the industry forced me to make the change. VHS tapes? Can’t buy those. Want to play that original Spice Girls cassette tape? No more tape player in your car. And now, you want DVD’s? Well fine, we’ll sell you a DVD, but we’ll also sell you a Blu-ray. And a digital copy. It kills me. I wouldn’t even have a smart phone right now if the store had offered me a flip phone that didn’t look like something my grandmother would use.
To me, e-readers are a whole different piece of the story that I don’t understand. Amazon and Barnes & Noble make the software on these readers available for your Mac, PC, or tablet, so why buy the reader? Just put whichever program you prefer (or both! Get crazy!) on your tablet and call it a day. Right?
The point is, print books are still readily accessible to me, often for a similar price to the e-book (if I’m buying in paperback), so why should I switch? Sure, I like the idea of having a slim little tablet to read Game of Thrones on so I don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of carrying around a thousand-page book in my purse. But I could just buy a bigger purse; that way, when I get on an airplane I can keep reading when you have to turn off your Nook for takeoff and landing.
Who’s inconvenienced now?