Alyssa Sooklal asks: Are you going to publish your books in hardcover and paperback, as well as ebook? Just hardcover or just paperback and ebook? Or just ebook?
We’ve gotten a few similar "truth" questions about e-books: our feelings about them, about e-readers, if they mean the death of independent bookstores or if they're wonderful because they save trees. It seems like e-books are on everyone’s minds. Today I’m tackling this issue with a confession. Yes, I admit it.
I own a Kindle.
|Battle of the Books: E-reader vs. Real book|
You see, my family has owned an independent bookstore since before I was even alive, so print books have always been more than just a hobby for us: they were our bread-and-butter. As an author, I now make my living writing books regardless of the final format they’re in: print, digital, audio…the bottom line is more or less the same for me.
Also, it gets worse! I actually own two Kindles.
It’s tough admitting this, because so many people I know are die-hard print book readers and in the “e-books will be the death of the independent bookstore” crowd. I still prefer reading print books. But there are a few times when I find my Kindle indispensible. First of all, for travel. YA books are usually quick reads, and I could go through 4-5 of them on a vacation easily. That’s a lot of suitcase room. Second, e-readers are great for digital ARCs. Publishers can send me ARCs directly, which saves on printing, shipping, and marketing costs, and means more people can get ARCs and spread buzz about books.
But the main reason I use my e-reader isn’t to read published books at all. I use it mostly to read my own drafts. When drafting a book in Word or Scrivener, it’s hard to read double-spaced 12-point font and visualize what it will look like as a final book. So I load all my drafts onto my Kindle, where I can read them as if they were already a real book, and it helps me see the places that are weak and still need work. This has made an enormous difference in my own writing.
All this said, I still prefer print books. Whenever possible, I buy a print book or get it from the library, instead of ordering a digital copy. E-books are often cheaper and instantly delivered, which is a perk, but I just don’t enjoy books as much when I read them on the Kindle. I recently felt as though I was going through a spell of lackluster books, only to realize the books themselves weren’t the problem…reading them on a screen was. When I went back and re-read the hard copy of some of those books, I enjoyed them so much better.
I also don’t think e-books mean the death of print books. My fellow writer Stephen Messer posted this quote from a recent Wall Street Journal article, which I love:
"Half a decade into the e-book revolution, though, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute."
So there you have it: the truth. I own two Kindles. And I love my Kindles—for certain situations. But there is no substitute for holding a real book in your hand, and having a bookshelf full of cherished books.
Megan Shepherd is a young adult writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her debut novel, The Madman's Daughter, comes out January 29, 2013 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, and is the first in a Gothic thriller trilogy. She’d love to hear from you at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or on Goodreads.