Friday, January 18, 2013

Megan Shepherd Takes the Truth

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, TwitterFacebook, or on Goodreads.


  1. Great post,Megan! :D And I agree.Even though I absolutely love print books,they take up a lot of luggage space so I usually carry my Ereader while traveling abroad.

  2. Like you, I adore reading books on my iPad while traveling. It just saves so much space! I also cruise through mss on my iPad because it's so much more comfortable to curl up an "read" the story than scroll through it on my laptop. What I miss most of all with ereaders, though, is the page design--graphic elements, unique font selections, chapter headings. And there's nothing quite like feeling the stack of pages under your right thumb grow less and less as you continue. :)

    Great post, Megan!

    1. I miss the graphic design elements too. I think the reading experience of a paper book can't be duplicated, and it really does impact how you feel about the book. Hard to "fall in love" with an ebook in quite the same way.

  3. High-five from a fellow daughter of an indie bookstore owner!
    We were put out of business by B&N when I was in college and my father became a sales rep for a publisher.

    I love my ipad, both for reading and for editing/proofing drafts of my WIP. I can use a stylus to actually mark up a draft, and since I still strongly prefer a pencil and paper over "track changes" in Word, I find this saves me oodles of paper and ink.

    I don't think ereaders "save trees" though. The components are toxic and they are planned to become obsolete and need replacing, thus filling the world with dangerous solid waste.

    1. I actually agree with you about the "save tree" argument. I worked for an environmental nonprofit and there's the whole toxic component but also the natural resources used for them are in most cases far worse than "cutting down trees."

      And good to hear from another bookstore family daughter! Sorry to hear about what happened to your family's store; it's such a struggle.

  4. I recently discovered the perk of reading my manuscripts on my Kindle, too. I so agree with everything you just said, and YOUR BOOK COMES OUT IN ELEVEN DAYS. WOOT!

  5. Totally agree, Megan. I have an ipad and a kindle and I use them both a ton. Love reading on them while traveling. Definitely more convenient! :)

  6. Thanks for answering my question, Megan! I own a Kindle, and a plethora of print books, and I vastly prefer print. I really only use my Kindle for books that I want that are e-book only.


  7. I don't know whether it's just me or if everybody else encountering problems with your site.
    It seems like some of the written text on your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them as well? This may be a issue with my web browser because I've had this happen before. Cheers
    My site: click the following webpage

  8. Megan - my family owns 4 nooks. 4!!! I adore my Nook HD and reading magazines on them are now my favorite thing to do. My 3 daughters all have nooks which they watch netflix and play apps on - they don't read on them. They prefer real books. weird huh?

  9. I was suggested this web site by means of my cousin.
    I am now not sure whether this put up is written via him as no one else realize
    such distinct about my difficulty. You're incredible! Thanks!

    my page - "seignior"

  10. Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I'm planning to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like
    Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm completely overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Kudos!

    Also visit my site ... louisville

  11. Hi, yeah this post is really fastidious and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.

    Also visit my site: Oxygen Anti-Wrinkle Treatmeny

  12. Appreciation to my father who stated to me about this
    web site, this web site is really remarkable.

    Here is my webpage - топъл печат ()