I was trading e-mails with the lovely SophieMyst earlier today, and we were discussing many things. Books, characterization in fiction, the unfortunate reality of having handsome and unavailable co-workers … all sorts of things.
But it was the subject of electronic books and independent writing that inspired me to blog today. (I also have a feeling that Sophie might appreciate not being on the receiving end another epic email.) You see, the darling S, like so many other bibliophiles in the past few years, recently purchased a Kindle. She was also party, as others have been, to the inevitable discussion that follows the purchase of an e-reader.
Is this the death of the book? *cue dramatic music*
As someone who loves books, and as someone who is planning on publishing independently in the electronic book market, you can imagine I have some opinions about this topic. I shared some of them with Sophie, but I thought I’d share them with you, as well.
I do think we are seeing the first step in the decline of the mass market paperback, to be frank. The appeal of paperbacks has always been their affordability and portability, both of which are better served by e-readers. Paperbacks have been rising in price for many reasons, and it’s no longer a throw away expense to go buy a paperback when its cover price is over five dollars, and often over seven.
Added to that, more and more people see the appeal of keeping their books in a more portable electronic library, instead of buying bookshelves on a massive scale.
Typical exchange at the Hunter house:
Me: We could move the couch over there, and that would leave room for another bookcase!
Husband: We need another bookcase?
Me: *sheepish smile*
(Incidentally, my husband bought me my first Kindle. His back thanks him every day.)
So indie writer/blogger/soon-to-be publisher, do you still buy books on paper?
And the reasons are many. Sometimes, I find an older edition I want on my shelves for sentimental value. Sometimes I have the first few books in a series on paper and am compelled to buy the rest to “match.” I just ordered another copy of Eudora Welty’s short stories so I could go through with a pencil and mark it up. (I do that with writers I like so I can examine their dialogue, or point of view, or punctuation or whatever I think makes them absolutely brilliant.)
So do I think books are going to die? Nope, but I do see paper books becoming more of a niche market. The good news? I think this creates a lot of opportunities for independent book stores to take advantage of and expand that niche market in ways that corporate book chains cannot. (Go indie stores!)
It’s a changing world for book lovers, but an exciting one! And I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Do you prefer electronic books, or paper ones? What might make you choose to buy a paper book over an electronic one if you do have an e-reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,