Sunday, January 27, 2013

Technology: To Succumb or to Conquer?

When digital books were invented, I was adamantly against them. I love books! I love the feel of books! I love having books! I resisted consistently even as my sister started using a Kindle and a friend started swearing by her Nook. But as I look forward to summer vacation, I finally realized something awful: during the teaching year, I don't read much because I'm busy working. But when I'm on vacation, I don't read much because I can't carry ten novels in my bag along with everything else.

The result is that I don't much read. While it's true that I try to put more time into writing than reading, for an author to not read is terrible! And in the meantime, my whole house is piled high with unread books.

And thus, I have finally decided I have to at least make a valiant attempt to become an e-reader. How I'll make the terrible choice between the iPad-mini, the Nook, the Kindle, or whatever other devices are available, I don't know. But I do know that as an author, I should be familiar with this "new" form of media and, especially, learn to embrace it. If I'm going to capture an audience, I need to use every means available.

Hence, when my OTP title Mariachi Murder becomes available, I'll be happy to present it digitally. But of course I'll be even happier when I'm holding my very own hard copy!

D.R. Ransdell


Shalanna said...

I hear you. I will never give up my print books--they'll have to pry them out of my hands, and they'll still have a fight on 'em. But I explored in a previous post the idea that possibly e-books serve one market or application, and print books continue to serve another market and application.

I find (to my alarm) that I can't remember e-books that I read on the Kindle NEARLY as well as I remember print books. This has started getting to me because I've read so many fellow OTP authors' books on the Kindle with a promise to do a review, but the trouble is that I have so much difficulty remembering what I have read, including author and title! I was about to check myself in for a psych eval when someone else chimed in to say that she has the same problem and she thinks it has to do with our visual processing preferences. When we don't hold the book, turn the pages, flip back and forth, and see different typestyles and so forth, it doesn't make as much of an impression. I'm taking that because I don't have another explanation.

I also found out that you can't highlight e-books as extensively as you can paper books--there is a limit on the Kindle of around 20%that you can "underline." That is not enough if you are in school/college and you need to highlight chapter after chapter. Also, art books and other coffee-table photography books are just more fun as print books.

I think print books will live on. I think e-books will settle into their place. The e-reader is great for travel! I think the Kindle is a fine choice. Many people use an iPad or other tablet. My only problem is that I do have some visual infirmities (bilateral visual field defects and other little niggles left over from surgery/radiation years ago), so I can't read for a very long time on any e-reader. I do better on the big computer screen with its wider wideness (if you know what I mean). But there's still nothing like a book with its smell of new ink and paper. . . .

William Doonan said...

I was initially skeptical about Kindles, but now that I have one (a birthday present - I didn't buy it) I love it. I'll still always prefer the feel of a real book, especially if it's my own, but it sure is convenient to carry a couple of hundred books around.

Jackie Taylor Zortman said...

My own experience with evolving into e,[oks happened when my husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas in 2011. Up to that point, I had kicked and fought to only read my paper books. I used to own a bookstore, so when I retired, I had my hubby build bookshelves in our loft office from floor to ceiling on one entire wall and they are filled with my beloved traditional books.

However, I find that using the Kindle, for me, is easier than holding a book. I like to lie down to read and with arthritis in my neck, this works much easier in my particular case. And I live remotely in the Colorado mountains and like the luxury of just clicking on a link in my computer and immediately having a book at my fingertips, rather than driving downtown or 40 miles in a snowstorm to buy one.

I have a book coming out in the spring by Oak Tree Press and have found that some of my friends want it only as an e-book, so I'm all for selling my book anyway they want to buy it. However, the number of e-books requested is very small in comparison to the requests for the trade paperback version, so it's still a minority.

My personal conclusion is that I believe there will be some middle ground between actual books and the e-book version. Moderation usually works in other areas, so why not in books?

Elaine Faber said...

I don't have a kindle or nook, as I also prefer to read a printed copy, but as the industry is certainly going that way, it's clear that as writers, our work should be published both in paperback as well as ebooks. Some publishers print new author's only in ebook - Perhaps they consider the investment until the new author has proven themselves one way or the other. I think both ebook and paperback will be aound for years to come.

G. B. Miller said...

I felt much the same way (and still do to a very small degree) about having a Nook or Kindle.

I ultimately chose a Nook because it's cheaper to spend $3.99 or less on a book to review than it is to spend $12 and up for a print version.

But...nothing beats having a print version so that you can do things like book signings and impromptu pimping.

D.R. Ransdell said...

Many thanks for the interesting comments. So it seems I'm not the only diehard who is ready to come around--at least for the ease of use when traveling of dodging snow storms!

I suppose one issue that's annoying is that sometimes the digital book is almost the same price as the original, or perhaps only a dollar cheaper. I realize we're paying for the technology, but that still doesn't seem right. So that's one more thing that's held me back even though ostensibly a digital copy could be used on different devices, shared more easily, etc.

As to Shalanna's alarming comment, I would suggest one more hypothesis. When I'm reading email, especially work email, not fun writing email, I tend to skim even more than when I'm using print. So I wonder if it's easier to take shortcuts when reading via an electronic device. A book feels more solid.. and perhaps gets more attention. An e-page... well, it's so easy to just keep turning the page.

That's not exactly scientific, but don't all of us have more trouble concentrating because of all the digital interruptions? So perhaps reading quality goes down in that case as well.

Diane Ransdell said...

PS By fooling around a little, I found out that you can download the Kindle app onto your computer. You can probably do the same for Nook. An iPad Mini has apps for both the Nook and the Kindle, so if you go the extra distance for that product, I suppose you have everything taken care of. What I don't know is whether I should choose the device that most feels like a book or whether that will make any difference at all!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I read books on my Kindle and my iPad, and paper books too. The experience is about the same. One plus for reading on an e-reader for some monstrous book like Stephen King writes, it saves your wrists if you read it on an e-reader.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I like books! There I said it. But, of course, I haven't invested in a Nook or other electronic device so maybe I'd like them too. One question, being an author of children's books, I wonder if it worth it to go the e publishing route. How many children have access to e readers at this point? Would parents download e books for their children to read or for them to read to their children? Any answers? Beryl