Ebooks versus Paper
My five prompts were:
Such great suggestions! I started a story about the girls in short skirts and tank tops (my 7-year-old’s choice, because she’d just read about the temperature dropping 58 degrees in 27 minutes in Spearfish, SD in 1943), but my love of books won out, so I went with ebooks vs. paper. Thank you for inviting me to contribute to your great blog!
Ebooks versus Paper
There’s something very cool about being able to carry an entire library in your pocket. I can get behind that. There are so many books that I love and enjoy surrounding myself with because of the beautiful phrases within that inspire me, and so many books I have yet to read but want to, that having an e-reader chock full of them, all at my fingertips all the time, is an amazing notion. Ebooks mean less paper, fewer trees sacrificed, no gas used to travel to a bookstore or resources wasted to have a book mailed to your home. It’s better for the environment on various fronts. All good things.
But for me, nothing compares to the experience of reading a paper book. It’s more than the smell and feel of the book, the image on the cover, the author photo that I can quickly glance at as I get to know his or her mind. Reading a paper book feels like a vacation to me, because it means I’m not on any electronic device for the moment. Like so many of us, I spend a lot of time on a computer, phone, or tablet. Putting away the devices and reading a paper book takes me out of the present-day glut of digital information, back to my teen years of reading Stephen King novels under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep.
Good books are meant to be shared, which is a lot easier to do with a paper book than an ebook. As soon as I finish a great book, I find myself thinking of which friend I should loan it to first. For me, reading isn’t a private thing, it’s a conversation that expands the more people we draw into it. One of my favorite ways to discover new books is seeing what others are reading, what has them clearly engaged, and I miss that when people read on an e-reader. I’ve never interrupted someone staring at an e-reader to ask what they were reading, but seeing someone reading a wonderful book I just finished, wanting to know what they think so far, can be a great conversation starter. When I’m at a park with my daughters, sitting on a bench reading while they play, the book in my hand frequently leads to a discussion with other parents, or with kids who want to know what the book’s about.
I have a collection of books that are autographed by the author, reminders of when I met them face-to-face for the first time, of when I heard their words in their own voices at book signings. One of my favorite authors, who I’d never met, sent me a signed hardback of her new book, simply because a friend of mine asked her to. Ebooks, while a great way to carry and work through a library of selections, don’t foster those kind of experiences. I look forward to meeting readers of my own someday, at author signings that wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for paper books.
My first novel, The Art of Adapting, will be published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster in a couple of months. I’ve got the galleys for the book on my desk. The full, printed version of my novel, sitting beside my right elbow every time I sit down to work, as a reminder that all of this hard work is for something real and concrete. I love the paper version of my book. I love holding it and flipping through it, seeing the title page, the dedication to my daughters, opening to a random page and seeing my words there. It will be available as a hardcopy and an ebook, both full of the same words, my words, but the tangible weight of the paper book makes my lifelong dream feel more substantial somehow. Undeniable. Like decades after we’ve retired our various e-readers and moved onto the newest make and model of the next-generation device, my book will still be here, sitting on a shelf, permanently, for my children and their children to see and hold.