I know I’m not normal. I know that. I am inordinately obsessed with the weather, I get giddy every time I see L’Oreal spokesman Collier Strong appear on a reality television show, and I watch this video every time I need a laugh.
And lately I’ve been doing something else that may be a tad out of the ordinary.
Booksellers, please cover your eyes…
I have gotten rather obsessed with reading on my iPad. I love reading e-books on my iPad. At night. On the train. At lunch. Upside down. In space. YOU DON’T KNOW.
I genuinely feel like reading on an iPad is a superior experience to reading on paper. There. I said it.
Reasons: No nightlights or bookmarks needed. I can instantly buy new books. I can highlight passages without breaking out a pen and look up words without grabbing a dictionary. I can set it down on the table while I’m eating lunch without the pages going crazy. It doesn’t take up much space. Yes, I can’t read as easily in the sun, but have you been to San Francisco? We do fog and rain, not sun.
I don’t know if I can go back to paper.
Okay, booksellers, you can open your eyes now.
I still buy print books because they are beautiful and permanent! I love bookstores and buy from them accordingly. I do.
But when I wanted to read Into the Wild… I paid for the e-book. A PAPER COPY IS SITTING ON MY SHELF. I bought the e-book anyway. I’m that attached to reading on my iPad.
Now, like I said, I’m not normal. As an author and former publishing employee I have no qualms about sending my hard-earned money back over to the publishing industry and to authors no matter what’s in my bank account. Jon Krakauer deserves every penny I’m sending his way and then some. I know this isn’t a situation for everyone.
But the movie industry reaped huge rewards when everyone replaced their movie collection with DVDs. The music industry had a boom when people switched over to CDs.
Could something similar happen to the book world? Could people grow attached enough to their devices that they might replace their book collections? Could planned obsolescence come to the publishing world?
But the movie industry reaped huge rewards when everyone replaced their movie collection with DVDs. The music industry had a boom when people switched over to CDs.
Actually, Nathan, not everyone HAD a movie collection. Those who had one had to replace their movies when the technology for using anything but DVDs became rare. Likewise, the cassette players that people used to listen to tapes were replaced by CDs.
People changed because the technology forced them to change.
THERE IS NO TECHNOLOGICAL NEED TO MAKE PRINT BOOKS OBSOLETE. E-BOOKS AND PRINT BOOKS CAN CO-EXIST.
If the publishing industry does shift completely to e-books, it will be shooting itself in the foot. Print books are available to buyers who are not rich enough to spend 200 to 400 bucks for an e-reader. Given the economy, the number of people who DON'T HAVE THE MONEY for that kind of luxury is sizable. The publishing industry cannot afford to lose customers right now.
I'm sure that the publishing industry will make money from e-books, and that's good. It should. But some of us who can afford to spend 7.99 for a paperback can't afford $200-400 for an e-reader AND the book AND the charger to keep the e-reader running. In your zeal for the new tech, don't forget that not all readers are so privileged.
"I have gotten rather obsessed with reading on my iPad. I love reading e-books on my iPad. At night. On the train. At lunch. Upside down. In space. YOU DON'T KNOW."
I won't leave the house without my Kobo. I do know. And when it's in the house, it follows me from room to room.
Why Kobo? Because it gives me the old fashioned reading experience without being near the Internet and e-mail. I want just books; no bells and whistles and disruptions. I spend most of my day online working and don't want to think about the web when I'm reading for pleasure.
Sommer Leigh says
As you read on my blog on Monday, I am in the same boat. It's a big boat. There is plenty of room for all my print books and my digital books. And friends too.
I have also (shhh, don't tell my husband) started buying digital copies of books in my TBR pile. I feel a little ashamed. Only a little though.
One interesting thing that's happening? I like to shop used book stores for old reference books, particularly history books but whatever I suddenly need to know everything about (I have a sailing book from the 1930s I just had to have. I live in NEBRASKA. We don't exactly go sailing on the Missouri river.) Some of them are turning up on Amazon for the Kindle. I've been buying them "new" where it is impossible to buy new print copies. Curious!
As someone whose moved several times in the last few years, hell yes. Books are heavy. I'm a role player and the amount of books I have, for someone who rents, is damn staggering. Walls full of 'em. But when you move… god help you.
I'm with Reena on this on. I get eBooks are great for "on the go", but thus far I still have little desire to own an eBook reader of any kind. My personal physical library has around 1,000 books, many of which I doubt would ever go to eBook, much like many VHS movies never went to DVD.
I also just can't get into the experience of reading with an eBook. It isn't as pleasurable in the basic sense. I like the feel of paper, the smell of books, etc. Working in the computer industry, I stare at LCD screens 40 hours a week. At home, I'm on the laptop enough that its probably another 40 hours a week. Books give my eyes a much needed digital rest!
I do have Kindle for the PC, but I have not bought even one eBook and probably never will. I have used it to read freebie erotica chapters and I downloaded some "classics" that I've never read. Similar to checking books out from the library. If I like it enough to want to reread, I'll get the physical copy.
Kari Marie says
I love my Kindle, but I love having shelves full of books. I purchase all my books on Kindle, and if I discover I love it, i'll buy the paper version. For older titles it will happen more slowly (because they aren't all available). When it's time to reread a book, I'm going to check for the ebook first before picking up my paper copy.
The electronic device is easier to read from and I love having access to all my books whenever I want.
I absolutely would replace some of my paper library with e-books. For one, I appreciate the additional shelf space (it would actually free up room for me to buy MORE paper books). And two, I love that I can carry my library with me everywhere, and search the text for a particular phrase/word instead of flipping through pages and pages to find it. I would be more likely to buy hardback paper books too, since my paper shelf space would be about a book collection and display and not just storage.
Rachel Searles says
E-books rock–bring on the revolution! It's already made me buy three copies of The Hunger Games: a paper one for me, an e-book for my husband who only reads on his iPad, and I just gifted an e-copy to my mother for her new Kindle. E-books are so cheap and easy and fast, and I feel good buying them and did I mention how freaking easy it is to buy them! Love!
Marilyn Peake says
HaHaHa. I love that you said, "I know I’m not normal. I know that." I’ve recently come to the same conclusion about myself. Lots of writers probably feel the same about themselves. I mean how many people torture themselves with writing? You’re not alone with enjoying the eReader experience, though. For my husband and I, it’s the Kindle. We were skeptical at first; but we absolutely LOVE reading on that device! My husband’s always been a big reader, but he’s reading a huge number of books now, and he takes the Kindle everywhere he goes. Last night, he formatted my novel-in-progress for his Kindle and is planning to read it that way to give me feedback. It was pretty cool for me to see my WIP on Kindle. My published books are already sold on Kindle, Nook, and iPad, but there was something really cool about seeing my WIP on Kindle. I haven’t repurchased more than one or two books I already own in paperback or hardcover, but I’ll probably do more of it because I find it so much easier to read on Kindle! One of my neighbors recently got a Nook for her birthday. She never really talked about books before, but now she talks a lot about books, the Nook and how much she loves reading books.
Kathryn Magendie says
I've come to the slow realization that Apple is trying to infiltrate my brain with messages telling me to "go aahhheeead; buy the ipad you've been drooling over for months – doooo iiiit" – they've put tracking signals to attract me to people who blog their iPad joy, and when I go to Best Buy, they slip it out in the outer aisle, and . . .stuff.
Ungh. I feel myself going over to the dark side! Ungh. Soon, Apple excecutives will claim to be my father. Ungh.
I love my Kindle and now strongly prefer to buy ebooks over print books (which is why I get so mad when they are priced higher than the print books, or even at the same price). But I don't have any interest in buying ebook copies of all my print books. I might do it once or twice for a book I really loved, but for the most part I'm not too interested in re-reading old books. I'd rather read something new.
What I have done is buy a print copy of an ebook I already owned. This happened when I realized I wanted to share the book with several friends. I kept the ebook for myself and bought a print copy that is strictly for sharing. But I wasn't too happy about having to buy the book twice. I should have bought it in print in the first place.
Ann M says
I love your honesty, Nathan!
I got a Kindle for my birthday this past year and, you know, I didn't hate it! Amazing, no?
I, too, love the ability to highlight, the ease of finding a specific passage, etc.
I'm still a little stuck on physical books when it comes to novels (especially those that are my favorites) but for anything non-fiction, I'm thinking I'll be getting the e-version hence forth.
Carol Riggs says
Yeaaah, I dunno. Books you can read even if technology or your batteries fizzle. I don't like depending on something with batteries. 🙂 It's like always having a regular toothbrush around even though you have a Sonicare. Always needed.
karen wester newton says
As these comments prove, there is no wrong way to read. E-ink or LCD or print, go with what works for you.
As a devout Kindle owner and closet Georgette Heyer fan, I have noticed this effect of wanting to own the books I love to re-read in my preferred reading format. I own in paperback every novel Heyer ever wrote, and have bought 4 or 5 in Kindle versions, too, but only those that I considered reasonably priced (which for these books was $6 and under). Heyer has been dead since the 1970's, but rights to her books are owned by different publishers, and one of them had put out a new line of trade paper versions; ergo they had priced the ebook versions at $9 and $10. No way, Jose. I just checked and they are mostly down to $7.99 but I think I'll wait and see before I do any wholesale replacements; she wrote over 50 books, so $7.99 a pop is just too pricey for me. Seriously, people, she has been dead for over 30 years! The cash cow should not be expected to continue giving much more than skim milk at this point.
So I'm not weird!! There is someone else like me!
I have a schlew of books on my TBR shelf(ves) and I have to say that as much as I want to read them, I will probable rebuy them on ebook. (Although I'm reading mine on a Nook. Haven't bought an iPad yet. YET!) I just prefer the easiness of the eReader. I can't help it.
So thanks Nathan! I can breathe easier knowing I'm not the only one out there.
K. C. Blake says
I have always been slow when it comes to keeping up with technology. I refused to switch from records to CDs until I had no other choice. I love holding books so much I figured I would hate reading on a Kindle, but I love it. I wouldn't part with my Kindle now for nothing. Like you said, Nathan, I love to be able to buy a book when the urge hits me without going to a bookstore or waiting for delivery. Sometimes technology is awesome.
Mo Fuzz says
I don't blame you one bit, Nathan. If I had an iPad or other eReading capable device I'd be using it exclusively.
Books are permanent, yes, unless you live in Hawaii or Mexico where the mold and book worms slowly turn them into masses of powdery mildew. I'm seriously considering having a special bookshelf, a la humidor, made to house the books I am particularly attached to. Would such a device be called a secador? Do they already exist? Alternatively, I could turn my office into a mini climate-controlled vault…maybe I've found the fountain of youth as well!
B.J. Keeton says
I feel the same way. I'm piloting an iPad program right now for the resource center I am going to direct next year. I've been using it to see how e-textbooks work for both students and teachers (I teach college English while I'm working on my Ph.D., so I get both sides in one semester).
I have to say that even though I have been a huge Kindle fan for almost 2 years now, I am just as big a fan of the iPad. It's a superior experience as a teacher because I don't have to wag along an inordinate amount of books every day. I can just bring one device that has everything on it, from the novels to the actual anthologies. It's really nice to have in my hand in class, too, as I don't lose my page, and I can have my notes typed up with it.
As a student, it's equally useful because, like you said, I'm never without a way to highlight or annotate the text. It's been wonderful to be able to sync between devices, so even if I forget something at home, I always have a copy of it on my iPhone.
But for personal reading? I still prefer the regular Kindle. I love my desktop apps, my iPhone, and my iPad, but when it comes to reading for pleasure, the e-ink Kindle is a better experience. Sure, I can't get online like I can with the iPad, but when I'm settling in for some personal reading time, I'm not worried about my RSS feeds, Twitter, or email. It's more comfortable when I'm lying around, and while it's not as easy to annotate, I can read for much longer periods because it's so much easier on my eyes then the backlit screens are.
I love books, and I always will. I still buy my favorite authors in hardcopy for collections and decoration. But just for passing the time or for work/school? Ebooks from this point on.
Yes, yes, a million times yes. I am a Kindle loyalist, but last night, I finished a whole book on the iPad without disturbing my sound-sensitive partner in bed. I started with my Kindle, but my clicking the Kindle's "Next Page" button kept him up.
I'm actually thinking of selling/donating most of my print books (I have moved whole libraries across three continents – NO MORE.), but I'm not quitting print entirely. Just going to be very, very select about what goes on the shelves. E-books have changed my reading habits in two fundamental ways – one, I read far more non-fiction as the fiction selection is still somewhat abysmal even on Amazon; two, I buy more print books from indie and niche publishers/imprints – great design, back-in-print "forgotten" novels.
Alyson Greene says
I don't have an e-reader, but I often read on the kindle app on my iphone. There are a few books I've purchased on a whim on my phone, and then fallen inlove with them and purchased a print version.
I'm a HS teacher and I like to keep my classroom library stocked, so if I read something on my phone that I want to share with my students, then I'll buy a print version for my classroom.
I think there's a lot of potential for the double-buying of books. My husband reads exclusively on his iphone and he's accidentally purchased e-versions of books we have on our living room shelf.
You know, I have gone back and forth on this whole e-book/ kindle thing and I think that I am starting to buy into it. Granted, I love having the physical copies of my books but perhaps I should consider building up an e-book collection. Besides, I have often wonder what I would ever do with all my books once me and husband decide to relocate to Africa in the next 5-10 years. Carrying my whole library probably is not the most realistic thing in the world. But an ipad or a kindle. Now that's genius!
Toby Neal says
This is more than possible. Though my brain is still not quite absorbing the words in e-format as it does in print, with time it will be as meaningful. The convenience is just too damn good.
Kristin Laughtin says
I might do this for a few books, the ones I read over and over and would have to replace eventually. I simply do not have the funds to replace my entire library, though, despite my love for my Kindle.
Other Lisa says
Ahhhh….I'm still on the fence on the eReader, and it's not because I don't love gadgets. I LOVE my Mac Air! LOVE my iPhone! And I really do want a portable device to read on for when I travel. But I am concerned about reading on screens. For example, my Mac Air, which I'm on all day, has an awesome bright screen — so much so that I notice when I go to my older Mac Book, that screen seems dim by comparison. The iPhone, love it too, but if I read for a long time on it, my eyes have a hard time adjusting to, you know, real life.
I know this isn't exactly on topic, apologies for that! Just wondering if anyone has had the same experiences and what device they recommend.
(and I still feel like, from my limited eReader experiences, I focus better on a paper book. This in spite of the fact that I am perfectly happy to write and edit on a screen).
Several readers, including me, have proposed that publishers consider bundling paper and e-versions of books — I think this makes good sense.
Personally, I don't think I'd replace that many of my paper books. I'd probably go the other way — buy a paper book of an ebook that I particularly liked.
you're really into the "Into the Wild" book. what is it about again?
seriously, the iPad love is probably deserved, and I'm a late adaptor (or, mentally handicapped, an idiot savant who can only … read) but – or, however comma – I'm still loving books, and do foresee staring at a screen as bliss.
currently, I'm reading a Tin House book w/ those uneven pages. it's part of a their debut series, pub'ed in 2006. the story's hard-core, the cover's sublime and I will say, my experience of reading the story in the form of the physical book is intertwined, magnified in a way that screentime just wouldn't. Contempt prior to investigation? Possibly, but the material is so challenging, my visceral response is bound to the book, inexplicably so.
Another book – a mass trade paper, semi-literary – would probably be equally served by an iPad platform.
Maybe I'm deluded, or this is all imaginary until I get an iPad or equivilant, but I do believe there's a connection between form and content. When I read, for example, Kathryn Harrison's "Exposure," I squirmed, & was made incredibly uncomfortable (psychically) by the material in a way I cannot imagine pixels on a screen.
^^^ I made the previous comment, and meant to write, "and do NOT foresee staring at a screen as bliss."
What always surprises me is that there's even a debate. A book is a book, digital or print. You get the same experience because of the content, not the way the content is produced.
Katherine Hyde says
My house is overflowing with books. There is no room for more shelves, and all the shelves have books stacked on top of and in front of the books that are properly shelved. For that reason, if for no other, I would love to be able to replace a lot of my beloved, often-read paperbacks with ebooks. BUT.
A lot of these books are not available as ebooks. They fall in that no-man's-land between the must-read classics and the hot new hits. A lot of them are probably out of print in paper editions, and the publishers have not made the effort to digitize them. In addition to that, my book budget is too small, and therefore I am not rushing out to replace my paper books with ebooks. Only the free ones.
It's interesting that you bring this up, since I was just talking with my husband about this last night.
Last year for my birthday he bought me a Nook, hoping that I would start buying more ebooks than physical books, since I prefer the pricier hardbacks and quite frankly we're running out of space for all my books. It was a beautiful and thoughtful gift, but unfortunately it backfired on him.
You see, I do buy ebooks – lots of them. But if I end up LOVING the book, I will go out and buy a hardback copy – especially if I'm in love with the cover. (Like Andrea Cremer's Nightshade – GORGEOUS! The cover and the ragged pages make for a beautiful book.) Or, on the other hand, I have physical books that I love so much that I want the ebook as well so that I have it wherever I go. (I have the Nook app on my iphone as well.) So, while it has helped save precious space on my bookshelves, I end up spending more by buying a fair amount of books twice.
I think print books and ebooks can live harmoniously together – there's really no reason to choose. For people like me, we like the best of both worlds. And until I'm forced to choose – by the publishing world or my slightly annoyed husband – I'll continue to do so.
Even people who go hard over to eBooks will probably not replace any significant number of books they now own in paper form. CDs and DVDs are used differently than books. I would never consider buying a CD or DVD that I intended listening to, or watching, only once. Yet, as much as I love to read, I have to admit that most of my books have been read only once and that condition will persist.
e-Readers don't fit in with my lifestyle. I look at the specific places that I read. Hanging out in or by the pool. While sailing or boating, or in a kayak or canoe. Lounging around on a "floatie" in Barton Springs. Oh, and in the bathtub. Most of my paperbacks have serious watermarks, and several have been dropped in the pool and air-dried. And one thing I learned, having had several cell phones and two laptops stolen during the course of travel, is to never take these on any kind of public transportation. I can easily replace a paperback (and a piece of luggage). I can't afford to buy a new Kindle every couple of weeks.
Eli Collins-Brown says
Nathan, me too!
But in reality, I love reading on my Kindle, iPad and iPhone and being able to seamlessly switch between devices. I posted this under Monday's post (which was more about self-publishing but sort of kind of talked about e-publishing, so I got excited and posted about my use of e-reading devices…here). The only time I buy a hard copy now is for books that I know I'm going to need to give to someone else to read.
I have a kindle which is not backlit but I'm right there with you.
I like reading on my kindle. I like it better than a normal book. I like how I can hold it with one hand, turn the pages with the click and its so lightweight. I like the fact I don't have to search and work to buy the book.
I'm just glad to hear that I'm not alone. Because even other people with e-readers will talk about how nothing replaces the book experience. My kindle I feel like improves the experience.
Another pro: Some books have horribly trashy covers. Now I can buy them and feel no shame. And these are even trashy books–but I can't carry around a picture of a half-naked women on an urban fantasy cover. But I can carry a kindle.
Karen A. Chase says
Really? That's the funny video? This is the one I watch when I'm not reading a book, or on my kindle, or online, and I really need a laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po1BDk2lxhA
Sheila Cull says
Because of your Post/s, I'm lucid in regards to the state of paper books versus e-books, now, and, what will likely happen in the future.
Prior to reading you, I did not understand, too confused. After reading you, I breathe, offer you a million thanks and finally understand.
Yes! I feel exactly the same way.
I LOVE reading on my Kindle app. and I will never, ever go back. It is just too convienent, and it feel sort of weird now to read on a book – alittle awkward somehow.
And of the last five books I've purchased, only one of them was new. The rest are old favorites that I wanted in the e-reader format.
So, I completely agree. Books that have been around for awhile may start earning money again because people are replacing their collection.
Check this out:-)
Juliana L. Brandt says
The reason of pages going crazy in a book when you put it down is the single best argument for me getting some sort of e-reader. I hate that.
Personally, I have never read (bought / finished) an ebook in my life, do not own an iPad/iPhone/iPod etc., find paper much easier on my eyes (I stare at a screen too much anyway), can never find ebooks that I like, and find ebook stores, unlike book stores and libraries, a pain to browse through.
You have good points though Nathan, and I haven't had much experience with ebooks anyway. But for now I'm going to stick with physical, paper books.
I think it's very possible, and the fact that publishers aren't all over this shows how fear of change is freezing an industry that should be looking for ways to capitalize on new opportunities. For example, what about introducing new "e-only" imprints to introduce new writers? The successful ones could be reissued in hard copy, with an emphasis on an appealing physical look. In short, I'd like to see them think outside the box the way that you are. Bottom line is that people are still reading. As long as that's true, there's hope.
Kris. Vockler says
I couldn't agree with you more. I loved paper but I've been won over by pixels. 🙂 your blog rocks, thanks for it.
I prefer the books, such as e-books. I have e-books is unusual, there are hands. The book is good to the touch and smell. It may be useful for the Kindle and IPAD, but in everyday life, what breaks when you use this? Anyway, this is just a fashion wave. At first it was the iPod. Decreased subsequently in a few months. Today we hardly hear about it. In addition, many books can be downloaded as PDF or DjVu format. One of them is completely free and legal. Why pay when a free download from somewhere? Rárakomthe the PDA or on my mobile and I can just read . Those who are interested in classic books on the Hungarian-www.konyv konyvek.hu page you will find a lot. Free and genuine.
K.L. Brady says
I'm there with you, Nate. I have a Kindle and I've replaced so many books that I initially bought in print that it's not even funny. I will usually do that if the book is less than $10 bucks without even thinking twice. Or if it's something I really really want to read. Otherwise, I'll just read the print copy. But my Kindle books get read first.
Ah, now I want an iPad more than ever! The reason I haven't bought one is fear of eyestrain. I spend most of my work day on a computer, and I don't know if several hours of reading another screen would bother my eyes. Have you had any problems with that? (I've noticed commuters reading iPads on the train, but I imagine they only read for 20 or 40 minutes at a time.)
I hope not!! I will never get an e-reader. First off think of all the e-books you have to buy to compensate for the up-front cost of the e-reader, plus the yearly cost for batteries.
I never saw an issue with normal ole books…not sure why we had to change it…DVD's are different, they are better quantity for both picture and sound and you can watch them more times with the quality staying the same. Additionally DVD's are not "eaten" by the DVD player 😉
I'm not replacing my beloved books, more augmenting. Soon I shall own two copies of all of my face works.
1 for my bookself, so I can touch it, feel it, see it, smell it. And 1 for my iPad so I can have it with me wherever I go.
"I genuinely feel like reading on an iPad is a superior experience to reading on paper."
And this is why I'm glad you're out of agenting.
About one thousand left to go.
And, yes, I'm posting this anonymously, Mr. Social Media Expert, as is my right to do so. Clearly, that's what internet forums (and indeed comments sections) are all about. That I can post whatever the hell I feel like, anonymously, without any consequence of reprisal, is a beautiful thing.
Also where's the post regarding piracy?
Piracy took down the music industry, and at present it's having a dramatic impact on the gaming industry – isn't piracy going to be the death of the novelist? You bet it is. When a person can torrent an entire novel in literally a half a second, why would they pay for the novel? Only the most naive person would believe that the honor system will function. It won't. This is the end.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, it was a beautiful thing, for the very reason that a book is itself a physical artifact, and therefore its own form of DRM. How in the name of Socrates is the royalty system going to function now that books can be passed so freely and so easily? Answer me this, Mr. Social Media Expert.
My god, I can see why you jumped ship.
Turn out the lights. The party's over.
First, for full disclosure, I do not own any e-readers. The piracy comment above is a great concern. Musicians have shows to make up the loss from music piracy, is there anything comparable to a serious tour for smaller name authors? I personally prefer paper books, because I like to highlight, underline, dogear, and write in margins. Plus there is an added benefit if I need to go back for a specific passage to quote in my own writing. Do you think that collector editions of larger or popular series/books could keep a decent amount of paper book buyers? And would a book like House of Leaves or Hopscotch really work on an e-reader? As one who likes a 'visual' aspect in some writings(footnotes, italics, bold type, etc.), but not all books(actually working on a book that is inspired by various 'artistic tricks'), I ask the board, if e-readers take over, would books using 'interesting visual' dynamics be discouraged, disappear, or be forced to take an e-reader type-setting into consideration? Thank you.
Clara Rose says
I love the digital reading too Nathan… but I'm afraid I won't ever give up the printed version. I love the smell of the pages and the feel of the binding.
Don't you run your finger along the titles at the bookstore, stopping now and then to check out the cover, if one catches your eye?
Could you give up a quiet afternoon at the book store, latte in one hand and a stack of adventure under the other arm?
I might read most things digitally these days but my home library will continue to grow!