Friday, January 09, 2009

eBooks -- Thanks, but no thanks

I had never read an eBook until yesterday. I never had any reason to. Every book that I've ever wanted to read is available in print format. For me, reading is a sensory pleasure. I relax on a comfortable couch, proving the old adage -- curled up with a good book. I enjoy the feel of books and I like flipping around in the book, reading sentences here or there just to get an idea of where I'm going. None of this can be done with an eBook and I've never wanted to try -- until yesterday.

A couple of days ago I read Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn in one sitting -- over 750 pages. Luckily I had that comfortable couch. For fans of the Twilight saga, you already know the scandal attached to Midnight Sun, Twilight told from Edward's point-of-view. For those of you who don't, an early draft of the book was printed on the internet and the author was so upset she isn't sure she's ever going to finish it. Meyer posted the draft on her own site to forestall illegal downloads elsewhere. So there it is -- a 264 page book only available in electronic format that I had to read.

I did it. I read that book on my computer and it was the longest couple of hours of reading I can remember. I was miserable -- no comfy couch, no thumbing through the pages. It completely messed with my vision for awhile after finishing it -- that scared me the most. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, but it's not the kind of absorbed focus you use when reading a book. I do not EVER want to read another eBook.

I know that other eBook machines may allow me to move to that comfy couch, but the other physical discomforts remain. I've taken a close look at the Kindle and the Sony reader, but neither of them made me want to really read a book on them. I got an iPod Touch for Christmas, but the thought of trying to read a book on that is ludicrous! (FictionDB looks great on it though)

Besides my dislike of the physical unpleasantness associated with eBooks, there are several other reasons I won't read eBooks. I love nothing more than finding good books to read and giving them to my friends to try. eBooks are a one-person affair. You download it once and that's it. Now, you can lend someone your Kindle and they can read it there, but let's be real. If I paid that much for an e-reader, there is no way I'd ever lend it out. Telling someone "Go download this book. It's really great" is just not the same as handing it to them. The ability to handsell a book is completely gone with an eBook. I can't tell you how many books I handsell for the book stores I frequent -- they should really pay me! I also love to possess books. I will stand in front of my bookshelves and just savor the feeling of owning all those glorious books. Not quite the same with an eBook.

So what does this mean for my future reading? Everyone says that eBooks are the future. For non-fiction reference materials, I completely agree. The ability to search a book and find relevant information works perfectly with an electronic format. But what about fiction? That thing we all love so much? To tell you the truth, this scares me to death. Will I be able to find new books in the format I want? I do have over 3000 books I haven't read yet and that will certainly keep me going for a while. Maybe the demise of the traditional book won't happen until after I'm gone -- that's what I really hope.


Anonymous said...

You realy shouldn't read eBooks on your computer. The screen is all wrong. You need the paperwhite format of the Sony or Amazon devices. All we can tell you is eBook sales are growing 400% (per quarter!). There must be something these new format readers like about it. There is an easy way to share, it is called "refer to a friend" and it sends and email and they can go right to the book description and synopsis. You can also vote on eBooks, which helps steer people to content you like. You need a birthday present of a Sony eReader, then come to our site and browse the 160,000 titles, you will never go back to your bookshelf! Use that bookshelf do display some pictures of your mom. You'll feel better.

The team at

Anonymous said...

I read a lot of fiction books, two or three a week. I buy most of these as used books. The whole idea of e-books, Sony or Amazon, is eventually to do away with the our ability to buy a used book at a reduced price.

Make no mistake -- it's the $$ talking again. I'm not going to be buying a reader nor e-books any time soon. Anyone who values his or her wallet shouldn't either.

The technology could be developed to put an e-book on a chip to insert in a reader -- but that would defeat the PLAN -- wouldn't it??

Bonnie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who enjoys looking at the hundreds of book I own! I have to say I'm completely with you on eBooks. It's a great idea for reference books, but there is something very special about opening a new book for the first time. You just can't get that with an electronic version.

Caffey said...

I read books both in ebook and print. I would have otherwise missed some great reads in small publishers if I didn't read the ebooks! So both goes for me. I love my prints as well! I wouldn't miss holding a book in my hand!

My only disappointment on ebooks, is the price! Some can be high for the amount of pages they are. Some say novels and the same price as print but should be cheaper if no printing is needed (I do understand there are other costs related to ebooks, but should not cost the same as prints do or more! for how many pages some are). I'd pay lot less if books were put together in one print anthology. So I hope that the future there will be some reduction in the prices.

I understand too some wouldn't want to use a EBook reader. But you can take a bunch of books with you on one device instead of alot of prints for so it may be good for convenience.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you here for all the same reasons. There's nothing wrong with ebooks for other people - I don't judge anyone who loves 'em, but for me, just nothing beats the FEEL of reading a book. Curling up somewhere with one, having them nestled in my bags when I go places, being able to shelve them, the feel of the book when I'm reading it. It's all about the experience. Yes, kindle can be convenient, but it just doesn't do it for me. I need the total experience.

Laurie Sanders said...

Not long ago I might have agreed with the original post. I hadn't tried ebooks.

But then I found a review for a book that I wanted to read that was only available in ebook I bought it...downloaded it to my computer...and thankfully was able to print it off to read on the couch, in bed, in the car, and all the other places one reads.

I discovered I liked the content available in electronic formats. Now it is true that I can get the same content (Sarah McCarty Promises and Hell's Eight Series) in print. However, I have moved on. I bought an Ebookwise Ebook Reader, and read on that for awhile, and then upgraded to a Kindle.

Kindle is my preferrd format for reading. I keep my wish list on it in the form of samples downloaded free from the site. I am also easily able to adjust the text size from small paperbook size to large print size -- and I like that aspect a lot.

I no longer have to worry whether a paper book is going to arrive with print so small that it is going to be a struggle to read. When I buy a Kindle book I can set the text to any size I worry.

I also buy more books since buying the Kindle...but I enjoy the ones I buy more. I read the free samples first...and if the sample doesn't draw me in I am happy to delete it and mark the book off my want to read list. Simple. Easy.

I love the Kindle. My first question when someone is promoting a book is is it available in Kindle. If it isn't it's going to be a lot harder sale.

I don't really think that many of us in the industry (I'm the Founder, CEO, Editor at Black Velvet Seductions Publishing -- we publish both paper and ebook) are that concerned with doing away with used book sales. Most of us sell more books because of the second life books have when they are traded in at second hand bookstores.

I also know that at Black Velvet Seductions we give away a lot of ebooks...way more than we could give away in paper. We also have fairly frequent half price sales which make the books less than 1/2 the price of a new paperback.

I believe most publishers want to make books available in as many formats as possible. I know that we do at Black Velvet Seductions. We do not have any plans to diminish our print program just because our ebook sector is strong and growing.

I think there is room for both paper and ebook and for readers of ebooks to recommend books to readers of paper and vice versa.

I also think reading in one format doesn't mean you can never read in another format.

Segue said...

E-books are okay - I even have a few myself that I couldn't get in paper - but I agree that they are just not the same as real books!
The feel and the smell are major differences, but there are smaller ones, too.
I don't think I'll be converting anytime soon. As the original post said - Thanks, but no thanks! :)