Monday, July 05, 2010

Have you hugged a print book today?

I write ebooks. I read ebooks. I love ebooks. Ebooks are eco-friendly in some aspects, though the devices you read them on aren't. Ebooks are great if you're on the go, or if you're visually impaired.

But I'm a sucker for print. Call me old-fashioned, but print, to me, has many wonderful aspects.

A print book can go anywhere with you, without the need to buy some pricey bit of electronic gadgetry to make it possible. Kindles and other readers sound like great toys, but I'm a bit of a Luddite and more than a bit cheap, so I'm still reading ebooks on my computer. Nice big screen, and my desk chair is one of the most comfortable seats in the house, but it's hard to read a few pages during my lunch break or while I'm waiting for the dentist.

A print book is sensory. It has a shape, a texture, a scent. There's a new-book smell, and there are a million variants of used-book smells. Some, granted, are more pleasant than others--I just read a library book that had been living with a smoker and I found my nose and eyes itching. But twenty years after her death, my grandmother's books still hold a faint aura of peppermint and lavender. You don't get that with ebooks.

A print book can be shared legally. As a writer, I love it when people buy my books. But I'm also a reader. I know the best way to fall in love with a new author is to have a friend hand you a book and say, "Read this! It's great." Sure, people do this with ebooks, but it's against the law--and totally defeats the author's hope that, when your friend tries to take back her book, one of you will end up having to buy another copy.

You can read print books faster, so you can get through your TBR pile faster. According to one article I stumbled across recently, it's slower to read on a Kindle or iPad than to read print. You have to wait for the next page to display, you see, and sometimes that just takes too long, if the page break falls in the middle of a sex scene or a big battle or something else where you just can't bear to wait.

It's easier to skip ahead to the ending in a print book.
Which, according to my husband, is a bad thing, but sometimes I can't stand the suspense and have to see that both hero and heroine will survive to the end. (I read a lot of urban fantasy. Survival of the love interest, at least in a non-zombified form, is not always obvious.)

My mom will read print books. Which, given what I write, isn't necessarily a good thing, but I like to know she can read my books if she chooses to. And your mom and everyone else's mom will read print books. So your mom can buy my books and my mom can read buy books and each can pretend her darling daughter isn't writing sexy paranormals.

Most of all, print books are comfortable and comforting. There are pictures of me as a tiny child hugging my books the way another kid might hug a stuffed animal. (What can I say? I come from a long line of geeky academic types.) Many years later, I still regard my print books like teddy bears or security blankets.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying "Lions' Pride releases in print tomorrow and I'm so excited I'm ready to dance around like an idiot."

Where do you fall on the print versus ebook scale? Or do you care about format as long as you can read it?


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Dayle A. Dermatis said...

I have no interest in reading books at my computer, even on my laptop curled up on the sofa or in bed. I spend far too much time in front of computers already. I want to carry my books from room to room, to be able to set it down and turn off the light, not haul the laptop somewhere and plug it in and go back to bed.

We've trained ourselves to scan when we're at a computer. We don't read every word of every website--we can't, or we'd get nothing done. So I can't give an ebook the attention it deserves. I feel bad reading short stories online, because I know I didn't read them in the same way.

I'm pondering e-readers right now, even though I far, far, vastly far prefer print books. I travel enough to want an e-reader. I occasionally want to grab a new book (e.g., for the workshop I'm about to take, we had a reading list) quickly, rather than walk to the library or order it online and wait for it. And some books are only available as e-books, and I want to read them, dang it!

I like print books because I like being surrounded by books. I like the feel and weight and heft of them. I like being able to flip back and reread something to remind myself of a detail. I do the latter by "knowing" how far back it was. Can't do that with an e-book. I also like being able to visually see how far I've come and how far I have to go. I like being able to flip a few pages ahead to see how far the next scene or chapter break is. Can't do that with an e-book, either. (However, I'm in the camp that thinks reading the ending is an abomination and why bother reading the book, then?)

Still, I've got my eye on a Kindle now that the price has dropped, although if I could justify an iPad right now, it would be in my hot little hands in a freaking heartbeat!


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