Friday, March 8, 2013

Printed Books or E-Books?--That is the Question

The subject of printed books versus e-books has been a hot topic lately among the publishing industry, blogs, my writing critique groups, and even newspaper articles. So which is better? Do we have to choose? Can we have a healthy balance of both?

No one can deny that with the overwhelming progress in technology the publishing industry is changing. These changes, obviously, affect the authors. Whether we like it or not, I believe we'll eventually have to adapt. If our readers want to curl up in bed in a dark room with a glowing screen, or carry a good story along with Internet access, their email, movies and games in one handheld device, then I feel we need to accommodate. But is there a right or wrong answer?

My love affair with books started with my collection as a child, handed down from my older siblings. In fact, I loved them so much I used to play "librarian" and stamp (literally) the inside of the books before handing them over to my pretend patrons. (Yes, I had a vivid imagination and played with other things besides books. Lol.) There were a few of those books I couldn't part with as I grew up, and now my boys have them. I came across one yesterday when I was choosing a book to read to my youngest son as we worked on potty training (which is proving to be even harder than writing a novel!), and the inside cover is completely littered with ink.

When I was old enough to go to school, my love of books increased as I discovered the library. I was usually the last one to the check-out because there were too many books to chose from, and I wanted to read them all.

As an adult, I LOVE bookstores.

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I love the cozy feeling I get when I walk inside, the smell of the pages, the colorful spines, all of the adventures waiting inside the covers . . . .

I look ahead twenty years and wonder--if all stories come to be published in e-book format only, what will happen to local bookstores? Libraries? I can't imagine a world without them.

Yes, I own a Nook. And, yes, I love it. I've read a few books on it, and it is perfect for reading in bed or on the go. And who doesn't love those great Amazon deals, or sites that offer free e-books? But a part of me can't help but feel that something is missing. I like a printed book in my hand, the feel of the pages, running my fingers over the book cover. My dream has always been to hold one of my own books in my hand and be able to do those things. When my short story "The Value of a Penny" was published in the I Choose You romance anthology by OakTara, there was nothing like holding that book in my hand, opening the cover to my story, seeing the words I'd written face to face. (And I'm working hard to get to feel that experience again!)

I'm also writing a novella for a publisher that, if published, will be available in e-book format only. Does this bother me? No. God has given me stories to tell, and it doesn't matter to me how they reach the public. (But don't get me wrong. I still want to hold my own book in my hand!)

What I'm trying to say is: in this great debate of printed books vs. e-books, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. I think it all comes down to personal preference. My personal preference is a good old-fashioned book.

Which do you prefer--printed books or e-books? Do you get more out of one than the other? Do you find yourself reading more with an e-reader?

I'd love to hear from you!

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