I’m sorry (but not really)

Writing this post has made me feel like a bad writer-friend, even though there should be no reason for it to do so. Everyone’s opinion is their own, and part of what makes living in a so-called first-world country so great is that I’m allowed to have that opinion: no one is forcing an agenda or way of thinking upon me. Yet, when it comes to books, I feel ashamed to admit: I prefer paperbacks. I like hardcovers, too, though more for uniformity if it’s part of a series, or a version of the book that I really want to keep in good condition. E-books, though? I just can’t do it.

Part of my trouble with e-books is that, whenever I sit down in front of my computer, laptop, or tablet, I don’t want to read a book. If I’m in front of any kind of input-enabled device, I feel I should be writing. I’ve got enough stories I need to be working on, after all. Reading for pleasure is a hobby of relaxation and subconscious learning, for me. I like to curl up on the sofa with a blanket around me and a cup of hot drink steaming between the open pages of a book as my eyes and brain travel down the paragraphs, soaking up the story. I don’t get the same comfy, relaxed feeling reading from a screen that I do from a collection of bonded pages in my hands. Plus, a computer offers too many distractions, mostly in the form of the Internet. Yes, I know I can turn that part off, but it’s so ingrained in me to be online if I have the option to be online, and, pretty soon, I’m more involved with the technology of my reading device than I am in the book itself.

A friend swears by her Kindle. She is a quick, avid reader, and she enjoys being able to take a dozen books on a trip to the beach with her, all in a device less than the weight of a standard paperback. That is admittedly impressive. And, there is a lot to be said for the saving of paper by not printing a book.

Printing, for those of you who don’t realize it, is expensive by its very consumable nature. When I printed From Hell (A Love Story), each copy cost about $14 to make, full-color cover, 300-some-odd pages, the whole nine yards of processing and publishing. On the other hand, making the e-pub version – using Scrivener – took just a few keystrokes, some online storage space (which I already had), and the time it took to upload. In no uncertain terms: way less than $14. So, I can understand how e-publishing appeals from a business perspective, as well.

Many of my author friends (the real ones, with real books, of whom I do not consider myself a part, let’s be perfectly clear) have produced e-books or e-pub versions of their books. And, I buy them. Because these are my friends, and I want to support them. But, I have to be completely, brutally honest: it takes me at least a dozen times longer to read an e-book than it does a paperback. Some e-books, I haven’t even gotten to. They’ve been sitting in my queue for months, and I feel horrible about it. But when I open them up, and the words appear on the screen, I just. Can’t. Do it. I can’t bring myself to read a book on a screen, no matter how glowy the Kobo, how booky the Nook, or how fiery the Kindle.

I’m not sorry to you, Amazon, because you already get enough of my money. But I’m sorry to my writer friends. I’m sorry to the e-pub-embracing generation of writers and readers out there. And, I’m sorry, trees. But I love my paperbacks, so I’m not really that sorry.

Well, maybe for the trees.

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Me and some of my favorite books
Photo by Celeste Giuliano, http://celestegiuliano.com/

What are your feelings about e-books? Do you have a preference for hard copies or e-pubs? Do you think I’m a bad person?

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20 thoughts on “I’m sorry (but not really)

  1. Well I certainly don’t think you’re alone in this, and I’m fairly sure that the majority of people who read books would agree that a hard copy book is so much nicer in many ways. However the convenience of an e-book cannot be ignored, for me anyway. I would never (or I don’t think I would anyway), sit and read an e-book on my laptop, I read them using the Kindle app on my phone, and what I love is that I can grab any spare moment to read it in a much easier way than I ever could with a hard copy book. Standing in line somewhere, waiting in the car for someone, watching over a pot on the stove, whenever I have a spare few minutes, I always have my phone with me, so I can whip it out and read through a few pages.

    So whilst nothing can replace the feel and look of a hard copy book, having the Kindle reader on my phone means I can read more than I would otherwise, because I have such little time to specifically allocate to reading, but I have lots of spare, otherwise wasted, small bits of time that I can fit it in. This only works for me because I have a phone with a big screen though, I couldn’t do it on a small screen phone I don’t think!

    I don’t think you need to worry that people will think badly of you for saying this, on the contrary, I’m pretty sure many will agree!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Vanessa. πŸ™‚

      You must have incredible focus (and read really fast!) to read a book on your phone! Since it’s become more and more the norm for us to be connected 24/7, if my phone is in my hand, I feel like I should be checking my email…even if I’m reading something else! Social media posts are just short enough to read on my phone, so I do read on it, just not books. I admire people like you who can do it, though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not a fast reader at all, but I do prefer to read in short regular bursts, I find it hard to read for long stretches of time (unless it’s a real page-turner!). My ideal really is to read one chapter in each sitting, and I prefer short chapters!

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  2. Don’t apologize for your preference! I’m the same as you when it comes to books–I need to have a tangible binding of pages in my hands and not just text on a screen. I love being able to see how much progress I’ve made from the front cover and how much longer until the back. And that smell! That musty, aged scent of old books! You can’t get that kind of quality from an electronic device (unless someone creates a smell sensor in the near future!).

    I get distracted while reading books just by having my phone nearby, where the Internet can just call to me when I get to a dull part. But, I do like that, while I write, I can have the Internet there whenever I get stuck on a thought, so I have a moment to let my mind wander until I can word a phrase correctly, or figure out what could happen next.

    But books are, for me, the preferred reading material. I would rather browse a bookstore and look at the books to try to find something to read. I like flipping the pages, finding random passages, and just disconnecting from electronics for a short while.

    Thank you for speaking up about this. A lot of English majors in my school feel the same, though some do have tablets they read off of, if only to keep costs of books down. You’re not alone with your preference! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree with the cost factor, spooney, especially for students! While electronic versions of course books tend not to be cheaper (which is really stupid, but that’s another chat for another time), they will spare a student’s spine!

      That Internet issue is a tricky one, isn’t it? It’s great to have it so close to hand for research or a quick distraction, but it can also break us out of a story. I do occasionally need that while I’m writing, but, when I’m reading, I really want to concentrate, without distractions. And, while we can use the scroll bar to see how much farther we’ve got to go in a chapter on a monitor, you are right that it’s not quite the same to look at the width of pages and see where we are. I suppose I’m just old-school that way. :/

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. We cannot be faulted for preferences like this, I prefer my Kindle Fire, because my phone is too small (or I’m too old) to read from and my laptop too big to carry around. I haven’t bought a paper book in a few years.
    There’s just SO much available on Kindle, and I never use the fire to go online, just to read and download books so I don’t associate it with regular online stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That convenience is so tempting, Neeks, and I rather wish I enjoyed reading on a Kindle for that reason. I borrowed one for a few months, downloaded some free books I’d been interested in reading…and never turned the thing on again. Meanwhile, I read about four paperbacks during the time I had it. One of them was even a paperback copy of the book I’d downloaded! It would be nice to go on a trip somewhere and need to pack only a slender Kindle or Nook, though. Maybe someday I’ll grow into the digital reading age and join you. πŸ˜‰

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  4. Babyyyy I feel you. I have a ton of friends who write fics and it takes me decades to read them because Im so easily distracted on the computer. I have a um…what is this thing….A kindle paperwhite. and its no good for internet or typing, like, at all. As far as I can tell, the only option with this thing are read a book or set it back down. So I guess thats a good candidate if you ever are looking for a device that forces you to stay focused on book.

    Kindles are also kind of annoying to hold because if you fidget or grab it wrong while you’re chasing a toddler or whatever, you end up flipping through pages or changing your settings

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    • That image of chasing after a toddler and flipping through pages really made me chuckle, JB! Thanks for that! πŸ˜€

      Fics are different for me, for some reason. I think because they’re free, and because I really only read fics written by my friends, the number is low. The connected joy I feel when I read something a friend has written is a big part of why I read those stories online. Plus, most of those fics are online-only, so it’s the only option I’ve got to read them. But for books I purchase, I want that hard copy. I do preview reading on Amazon before I purchase, and if the first page grabs me, I’ll stop, order a copy, and think – and this is the truth – I can’t wait to get that book in my hands so I can start reading it!

      I’m just weird, I guess.

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  5. I’ve owned a Kindle Fire before and have an iPad. And yet, I can’t see myself using either one as an e-book. There are too many distractions on those devices. I prefer real books over e-books.

    Now, between hardcover or paperback, I lean more towards hardcover. I think it’s because I don’t like the way paperbacks conform to the bending. I’m someone who likes things neat and stable. It’s not to say that I don’t read paperbacks. Most of my craft books are in paperback. But I prefer my fiction books in hardcover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is something impressive about a hardcover sitting on a shelf, isn’t there, George? πŸ™‚ I’d love to have more series in hardcover for the very reason you mention…but I just can’t justify the price for my collection. That’s one thing that bothers me about e-books, as well. While a lot of them go on periodic sales for $1.99 or $.99, many times, the e-version is just as expensive as the paperback. For that money, I’d rather have the physical copy that nobody can electronically take away, revise, or revoke my rights to read, even if it does take up extra room in a suitcase.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I agree, Mayumi. I much prefer a soft/hardcover book to an e-book. I do read e-books on a Kindle app on my iPad, but I only download books from my blogging friends who I want to support and many of them don’t offer soft/hardcover versions. But it’s important to me (I’ve made it a priority) to write a review for my blogging pals because I know how freakishly difficult it is to build an audience. That commitment has helped me overcome my distaste for the e-book.

    The other thing I use my Kindle for is to read clients’ manuscripts (but not to edit — I save that for my laptop). I will read these while I’m waiting for my kids to get out of school, or during any kind of downtime. The Kindle or any electronic device is a huge bonus financially because it saves me from printing out 300+ pages and lugging them around.

    I won’t download e-books that I want to indulge in. I set aside a few minutes to read before bedtime and I want to escape in the world of that book. I’m reading The Help right now (I saw the movie and have been chomping at the bit to read the book). I could have downloaded it, but to me, reading is something to enjoy, sink into, and I can’t with an e-book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Editing is a very ingenious use of a Kindle, Kate! I can certainly see how much easier it is to have manuscripts there than in hardcopy. How many manuscripts do you usually review, at a time? (Just curious about that one, so don’t feel like you need to answer.)

      Bedtime reading is essential in our house. It’s one of the few times of the day that everyone is away from everyone else, so it allows each of us time to decompress with fact or fantasy we enjoy. I hope it is a tradition that keeps going in future generations, whether folks use a paperback, hardcover, or e-book.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Freelancing is one of those jobs that can go through dry spells then be a downpour for months. So I try to spread out jobs, stagger them as much as possible.

        The most I can juggle comfortably is three at one time, and that includes my after-school enrichment programs and my adult education classes, which are also part of the freelancing.

        I love hearing how other families incorporate bedtime reading into their schedules. It sounds so old-fashioned, which is probably why I love it so much!

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  7. My preference is still paper, but I have been using my Kindle more this last year or so. In part, it’s to support writer friends, too. It is less expensive to download the ebook version of their novels than to shell out quite a bit of money on paper. But those $9.99 and up ebooks? No way. I don’t care how “big” the author is, the press is making a killing on every copy it sells. For me, those books are almost certainly going to be read from library copies!

    I also enjoy the ebooks for some “mid-level” or “indie” authors whose stories I enjoy. The paper prices tend to be a bit high for those. But the ebooks are usually “just right.” And for indie authors, they may very well make more profit from the ebooks than the paper version.

    My bet is that no one here will be mad at you! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I’m living proof that Celeste can make anybody look glamorous! πŸ˜€

        What e-book publishers can get away with in some markets is really disheartening, JM. Some of them are all right, others charge as much money for their e-books as they do for their paperbacks…or more! Of course, there are people who just plain prefer an electronic product, for whom the cost doesn’t matter. (I am not one of those people, if only on principle.) It’s not only traditional fiction and non-fiction book publishers, either. It’s also comics, magazines, and periodicals. And to think that some of them don’t even pay their writers…! Argh.

        On a happier note, your library post from a few weeks ago prompted me to go down to our tiny village library and get myself a card! I haven’t found anything to check out, yet, mostly because I’m still reading books I’ve got at home, but I am looking forward to browsing those stacks again. I’d forgotten how relaxing that feeling is, seeing all of those titles lined up next to each other! I go into the bookstore fairly often, of course, but there are usually distractions there, since there are no quiet rules. It will be nice to return to my library roots. πŸ™‚

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  8. To be honest, I didn’t even appreciate the major disconnect from the physical book and the electronic one until you put it in this light. To me, as long as people are still reading actual books and still letting their imaginations play, then I didn’t really care what form it took for most.
    Though, personally speaking, I’m a paperback kind of person. I’ll sacrifice survivability for ease of transport, so I can take more books with me :). That and E-readers make my eyes hurt, which leads to migraines, which is not fun at all.

    And no, you are not a bad person. You have your preferred way to read and to support your fellow author, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You still support your friends in need, after all

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  9. My favorite way to read is a paperback. But I hate the tiny print in mass market paperbacks. I’d prefer an ebook in that situation so I can read without straining my eyes. Ebooks are awesome for long trips. I love having so many choices in one easy to tote iPad instead of 10 paperbacks filling up my suitcase. I don’t think loving paperbacks makes you a bad person at all. Most of my sales to date have been paperbacks. People love them for a reason. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks, Kourtney. It is interesting to see the shift from hardcopy to digital in so many other aspects of our lives, and I support most of them. (I can’t imagine printing emails anymore, though many places where I worked after I first left university did that!) I still do love my books, though. πŸ™‚

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