Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Signings--and the future of signed paper



I am super-excited to announce my upcoming joint book signing event here in the Dallas/Ft Worth area with Jenny Milchman, author of COVER OF SNOW (out in hardcover from Ballantine), on Sunday, April 28th from 1-4 PM at Lucky Dog Books in Dallas (the Lochwood location)! If you're in the area, please come. We'll have cookies!

Are you surprised that book signings are still happening? I know people have been wondering about that, what with the proliferation of e-books and the seeming dominance of e-readers. Still, there's something about an in-person Meet and Greet and Get A Paper Book Signed event that appeals to the fangirl/fanguy in everyone. It's really cool to go to one--and even cooler to be behind the table talking about and signing your own books! I can't wait to have people looking at copies of NICE WORK.



But do autographed copies even make sense in this digitized world? People don't keep large print libraries any more (except me, but I know I'm an exception), and I can't see them hanging on to the copies they've had an author inscribe to them when they can sell the books on eBay. (LOL!) Maybe it's fast becoming a curiosity. Or perhaps there'll be a resurgence of interest in printed books, much like the rebound of vinyl LPs and turntables. The media isn't the message, after all--it's not the vehicle that counts, but what it delivers.

However, I still find it more difficult to read on my e-reader than on paper or even on this large flat screen connected to the desktop PC. I can't recall an e-book for very long after I close the file, unlike the way I can remember details from a print book I've read. We can't assume that others are like us in this sense, so I did a bit of Googling, and there have been studies that have confirmed I'm not alone.

Researchers have found that different parts of the brain process the visual input, in fact. Here's an article about the Reading Brain and how it might work, for those of you who are like me and don't do as well with e-text:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=reading-paper-screens

Even more daunting is the idea that as people become accustomed to skimming webpages and reading on e-readers, "deep reading" (deep engagement with the text, the flowstate as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) will fade away. This topic is explored in The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (a great book that I commend to you, BTW) and in Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. The latter author has posted an intriguing article:
http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102396/Our-Deep-Reading-Brain-Its-Digital-Evolution--Poses-Questions.aspx

There's a lively debate between other researchers here:
http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/

How about you? Do you notice any differences in your processing of e-books as opposed to print books? How old are you (this makes a difference, I'll bet)? Do you still collect author autographs? Or do you settle for an e-autograph?

11 comments:

Beryl Reichenberg said...

Interesting article; I will follow the links you mentioned, especially the one concerning the different parts of the brain. I don't have an e-reader. But my grandchildren already use these devices. I wonder how this will all play out with the next generation. Beryl

Beryl Reichenberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shalanna said...

Beryl,
I think your grands are just where they need to be, on the cutting edge. I envision the next generation, the one being brought up using all the e-readers, smartphones, laptops, and other devices practically from birth, will have different brain wiring (because as they learn to read, it'll be on the devices) and they'll be unable to tolerate print books (unless someone insists that they look at them part of the time.) My problem is most likely that I imprinted on print (ha, wordplay) so early, and another problem is that I have bilateral visual field defects as a result of past problems/surgery.

I hate to see coffee table art books and other books that are visually and tactilely stimulating disappear, of course. Eventually that will all be on the "perfect screens." But for now, I think we need to face the music and admit that some of us (me) do not retain what we read on the e-reader, for whatever reason. I know I'm weird!

Walter Luce said...

I'm finding more and more of my friends and associates are turning to e-readers. My 90 year old mother-in-law whom I thought would never even own one, loves it, takes it everywhere she goes. Good job, Beryl.

Walter Luce said...

I'm finding more and more of my friends and associates are turning to e-readers. My 90 year old mother-in-law whom I thought would never even own one, loves it, takes it everywhere she goes. Good job, Beryl.

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

I'm glad I live in an age when I can have both. After my stroke I couldn't hold a book or a pencil. I would have gone crazy if I couldn't read. I just propped the Kindle against my dead side, and pushed the turn-the-page button with the hand that worked. I will defend forever having that choice. I read both paper and e-books, btw, pretty equally. Interesting to read the research. Thanks for the interesting post.

Chester Campbell said...

I have just started using a Kindle and find it very handy. I actually read a little faster with it, and I don't find any difference in recall of the story. I'm 87 so I grew up with paper, but I like ebooks and that's where I sell most of my mysteries and thrillers. I've quit store signings but still do festivals and book fairs.

Lesley Diehl said...

I too love my kindle, but I refer a a print book. I always hated it in high school when we got our books at the beginning of the year and were told not to mark in them. I love to make books my own by underlining, or making a brief comment or flipping back a few pages to reread something. It's just not the same for my old brain to hit that little tab to go back, and, they'e not even called pages!

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

Jenny went and may still be on a monumental book tour all over the country. I think it was great for her. I have not done anything like that ever. I do still do booksignings, but enjoy doing them at places that aren't bookstores.I like books on paper and on my e-reader which at the moment is my iPad.

James R. (Jim) Callan said...

Still prefer a paper book, but then, I'm in the older generation. Not that I don't use a Kindle. If I travel, I can put lots of books on it and my total weight is 6 ounces. I do believe that the younger generation will continue to power the move to e-books. The percentage of books that are digital only will increase.

However, I still like to have an autographed book. It means I have more of a connection with the author of the story I'm reading. And I know that many people who buy a book from me ask to have it autographed. So, some people DO want/keep autographed books. We are clearly in a period of transition. As writers, we must recognize that - and adapt.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

Looks like I'll have to join the e-reader generation. If Chester can do it, I guess I can figure it out. But I still may need a teenager to teach me how it works. Beryl