The Death of Paper…Maybe
Is print dead?
Newspapers are folding, publishing houses are struggling, all the while the Internet is gaining more and more popularity.
But is print really dead?
This debate has been going on for a while now, and I realize this subject isn’t exactly new material. In fact, some people have even made a youtube video spoof about ebooks vs print books.
Personally, I read both print and ebooks. With print, I find there is something comforting about holding a book in my hands. I like to sprawl out on the couch and flip through the pages. It’s easier on my eyes. Perhaps it also gives me a little nostalgia.
Print books cost money to ship… or in gas to drive to a store and pick up. They take up room in your house. Anyone who is an voracious reader can tell you about the pile of books in their basement just waiting to be read. Many can also tell you about how their “keeper shelf” became an entire room in the blink of an eye.
Since joining this blog, I’ve met many new-to-me authors and have rushed out to buy one or more of their books. Now I have 90+ books sitting in my basement because, quite frankly, I have a day job, a writing career and small children at home. I don’t have time to read more than a small handful of stories a month. My husband is constantly grumbling about the steady stream of books flowing into our house that sit around and gather dust. Last week, when I went on vacation, I was determined to put a dent in my “to be read” pile. I brought eight print books with me and filled up half of my carry-on bag for the plane ride.
That’s right – half of my carry-on bag was filled with paperback novels. Definitely a problem.
Ebooks are nice because they take up a lot less room. With a few clicks, you can have hundreds of stories at your fingertips. Since they don’t need to conform to a certain size, they can be as few as 20 pages or as many as 400 (or more!). If you are looking for something new, different, or a concept that’s a little “outside the box,” you’re more apt to find it in ebook form than print.
There’s no denying that ebooks are becoming more and more popular. Even large, established print publishers like Harlequin and Avon are dipping their toes in the ebook arena. More authors are releasing an ebook prequel a couple of months prior to their print series release. I’ve also recently discovered a new way to read books, called textnovel or cell phone novel reading. This is where books are broken down into 5-10 pages and sold to readers in serials, like a soap opera. Since it’s conception in 2003, cell phone novel reading has become very popular in Japan and China. Dorchester has launched a contest for writers based on this phenomena.
I have this love/hate relationship with ebooks. I know, weird coming from an ebook author, huh? Right now, I read ebooks on my netbook and I think this is where the whole system falls apart for me. After spending 8-10 hours staring at a computer screen for my day job and another 4 hours for my writing, I don’t really want to sit down at a computer to read a book — especially for a few hours. I find that I read novellas and short stories as ebooks (anything that will take me under an hour to finish), but prefer to save longer novels (200 pages +) for paper. I think I would read more longer works as ebooks, however, if I didn’t have to sit down at a computer every time I wanted to read.
In other words, I just need the right reading device.
So I’ve been looking at purchasing an ereader. I’ve researched the different types out there, most of which have been summarized in a table at Dear Author here. I even went out and test drove a few models.
I never bought one, though. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
First, I don’t particularly care for how some ebook devices lock you into a certain format. Many ereaders force you to buy one particular book format and in many cases this limits where you can buy your ebooks. I’m a comparison shopper, so I like to have options and not be locked into one particular estore. True, this isn’t the case with all ereaders, but it is definitely true for some.
Second, the whole episode with Amazon removing books from people’s Kindles left a bad taste in my mouth. Despite Amazon’s apology, it drove home the message that at any time, the books I bought with my hard earned cash could disappear from my ereader. Maybe I’m being irrational here. I mean, there was such a huge outcry over this fiasco that I doubt Amazon will try it a second time. Then again…
Lastly, and this is the biggest drawback for me, I’m too cheap to spend the $300-500 to get a decent device. An e-reader is a luxury item in my household and we just don’t have that kind of disposable income. Period.
I heard about a new e-reader coming this fall from Sony (read about it here). This device will be under $200 and available at places like Walmart and Target, although it won’t be wireless like it’s pricier counterparts. I think Sony has the right idea. With less expensive devices, the technology will become available to more people and make the market grow. Heck, at $199, I might even get one. I wonder, however, if $199 is low enough for the average reader to switch from print to e-reading. It wasn’t until the ipod dipped under the $150 mark that the device really flew off the shelves…
At the end of the day, I don’t think print books will go the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. There will always be people out there who crave turning of pages or placing a hard cover in their laps. Although, as a new generation of more tech savvy readers emerge, and ereaders become more affordable, I wonder if print novels will become difficult to find. I guess only time will tell…
What do you think? Do you read ebooks, print books or both? What do you think about the future of ebooks and the “textnovel” idea? Did you enter the Dorchester contest? Do you plan to?
I want to hear about it!