Bookish Topic Tuesday
I said I’d cover it eventually, and now seems like a good enough time. Ebooks are obviously a big ‘issue’ for books and publishing at the moment, it’s a very contentious thing, is it the saviour or curse of the publishing industry? Is it actually making more people read? These are all very big questions, and are very relevant. First I’d like to suggest that you check out the Great Ebook Debate, that was hosted by Isobelle Carmody, where various authors wrote posts about ebooks, and what they thought the future of books/publishing would be. It’s a very interesting discussion, with many views presented, and there are comments from readers (including myself) there. This happened last year, so the link takes you to the archives of the debate, on Isobelle’s blog, which I also recommend you take a look at, since she writes some very interesting things.
According to the latest statistics (from the article here), in the US ebooks provided 23% of revenue for publishers, which is certainly an amount that cannot be ignored. There are now millions of ebook devices out there (especially with the highly popular iPads), so it looks like ebooks are here to stay. And what isn’t there to love about cheaper, portable books available at the touch of a button, which can never go out of print (that’s actually a really compelling argument, but I would be upset if books weren’t republished/reprint simply because the publishers just wanted an ebook version!)? As well as free ‘classic’ books which have gone into the public domain? Plus the ability to highlight sections, immediately get a definition of a word (something I’ve always wanted to do, since authors slip in some fancy words, and I always wonder what they really mean, since you would never hear them in daily life) and take as many books as you like with you on holidays and not have to worry about the weight (okay, I repeated myself, but it’s a strong point)?
I guess, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I love that people can do all these things, and that there are ‘more’ people reading these days, and they are reading ‘more’ books (statistics which are hard to really gather, but that’s the general word). And that people can now self publish their ebooks and share them with the world, without having to worry about strict publishing criteria from the big (and small) publishers, and that you can get books so easily.
So what’s my issue with them? I just personally, don’t like the idea of ebooks. I know the argument I’m going to use is pretty weak, but I just like sitting down with a proper book, and turning the pages, and feeling it (even if they managed to make that happen for ebooks, still wouldn’t be a fan). Part of it is probably because I don’t like the idea of staring at a screen any more than I already do (which is, sadly, quite a bit), I like being able to think I’m getting away from screens and technology by just picking up my book and reading it. Yes, the books with e-ink, mean that it shouldn’t hurt my eyes, since there isn’t any backlighting, but I’d prefer proper ink.
Then there is the environmental side, which thinks, do I really need another gadget for reading books, when I can have them in paper form. You might argue that cutting down trees is worse, but at least trees are renewable, and the books will decompose. Plus, I never have to worry about running out of battery, or the possibility of corrupted files, since I have the story in my hands.
My biggest argument is probably that I like having bookshelves, so I love being able to display the books, and see their covers. Of course buying ebooks doesn’t limit your ability to buy real books, but if you buy an ebook you might be disinclined to buy the real thing. But I think that plenty of people see it in the way I see a library, it’s almost like a test read, do I like the author, do I like the series, would I want to buy it? After all, if I like something, I really want to support the author.
Which brings me on to my final point about all this, the money going to the authors. I’d be all for ebooks, if it mean that authors were getting more for their work. But I don’t think it is doing this (challenge me if you think I’m wrong). Maybe it has to do with just how many books there are on the market these days, and there is always going to be limited demand, so publishers don’t give that lucrative a deal anymore. You would think that authors would get more for an ebook, since the publishers don’t actually have to pay anything for each copy, but if it costs less, are they really going to take a cut in their profit margins, maybe not? And then there is the issue of copyright, and keeping people from pirating your ebooks, and distributing them online. Even will all the safeguards, there is always going to be people finding a way to get them online, even if they have to type out the books themselves. I guess that’s just the sort of world we live in.
The future of books is going to be interesting, one avenue I’ve always wanted is the interactive ebooks. Who wouldn’t want to be literally transported into the world you are reading? Going to Hogwarts, going on epic quests, and being immersed in the story in a whole new way? I think that would be awesome! Maybe that’s what is needed to win me over, but only if somehow they can make it happen that no time passes in the real world… I guess that’s too much to ask!
I don’t think I’ll be buying an ereader any time soon, maybe never. I’ll keep to my physical books, but I’d like to hear what you love most about your ebooks (if you use them) or physical books (if you that’s your preferred method)? What’s the future going to look like for books?
Just a note that this will be the last post until the 22nd when I’ll return with a review of Blackout by Mira Grant (which I’m reading now, and loving), before another Bookish Topic Tuesday, then we shall start The Great Gatsby!