To some people this question might seem like a no-brainer. Of course I want my book on an eReader like Kindle and Nook. It's the future of books and it would get me the greatest exposure.
I must admit that I never really thought about the effects of distributing books digitally until I met Sherman Alexie. An author who refuses to put his books on any eReader. I got a chance to listen to his reasoning and essentially there were two parts to it. The first was a fear of pirating. When music first went digital there was a ridiculous amount of file sharing to the point that it impacted record sales. They've gotten this more under control in recent years, but there would still be pirating on a new product that wasn't provided digitally before.
His second concern was a sort of disconnect with the physical book. He pointed out that often times people will write their own notes in the margins of their books; things that make that object unique to you. I must admit, as a writer, it would be far more gratifying to hold my book in hardcover, rather than a kindle with my book inside of its memory. I can hold a flash drive with my book on it right now, but that doesn't really mean anything. Its the issue of losing that bit of culture that is associated with books. Imagine walking into a library where it's just a series of tables with Kindles attached. No shelves and no books. For anyone who likes to read, it's kind of a disturbing thought. Already our libraries are being taken over by computer labs. It would be a shame to lose the books altogether.
So I'm curious to know how every day writers, ones who haven't yet been published, feel about this eReader movement. Would you let a publisher put you on the Kindle or the Nook, or would you follow Sherman Alexie's example and stand up for the hardcover and the paperback?
This is an excellent topic for a thread discussion. First of all, I just want to say that I love Sherman Alexie's writing. He is one of my all time favorite authors. Second, I want to admit that I am not a fan of the Kindle and other eReader systems. Right now I have about 5 bookshelves in my apartment that are filled with nothing but books and I love it. I love being able to look at the shelves and know that I have read all those books. I love when people come over and see how many books I own and they mention that it's like I have my own mini library. I think that is a really satisfying comment.
I must admit, the library you mention in the thread... the one that will have only eReaders on tables for people to use instead of shelves of books, scares me. Not only would that just look unbelievably strange, but it would put so many people out of jobs! Libraries will become like ATM machines where you walk up, swipe your card, type in your password and download your book. That's absurd! I hope it doesn't come to that.
I think it depends on the type of book I was publishing.
If it was a paper-back type Si-Fi, then I would be happy to have it on an eReader. Those books get passed around the way it is. I would guess the 2/3rds of the people who read them never buy them. They are kind of like romance novels, in that they are one time reads, and then they are passed on.
A how-to book, on the other hand, ought to be in print, and durable. They are the type of books where the way they are bound will help to make or break their popularity, and I cannot imagine one on an eReader.
There are many other types of books, that I am unsure how I would want them handled. Personally, I would rather buy a text book that I could mark up, than have it in a digital format.
I would make the argument that the popular genres, like fantasy and sci-fi, are at a greater risk where eReaders are concerned. As you pointed out, people often exchange these books, but it's limited to that person's circle of friends and family. Imagine sharing your copy with the world. Suddenly a bestseller doesn't even make a blip on the radar and a hard working author gets screwed over.
I'm also going to have to stand up for genre fiction as a whole. Where would the publishing industry be without books like the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter? Not only do these genres constantly match the quality of literary fiction, they have the ability to reach larger markets. They're bestsellers for a reason. And while there will always be books that you read once then pass on, there will also be those that stick with you your entire life.
I would prefer the reverse of Ivorwen. I would rather have a book I am reading in hardcover or paperback, and a How To book on ereader for the ease of printing a page I want to use for a reference or an example.
Personally, however, I would not like to see any books on ereader. How could it be called a book? lol Plus, having only ebooks would limit the number or readers, I think. I would hate to have to start up my computer just to read a book!
If I ever managed to write a book, which I doubt I ever will, I would want it issued on paper. I would turn down any arrangement that forced me to make it into an e-book. In my view, to have something published purely in digital form is sending a huge message that it is probably not worth reading.
I will never, ever stoop so low as to buy a digital book reader. YUK!!!! It would take all the pleasure out of reading. The smell of a new book, the feel of the pages as I turn them, being able to pick up the book and read it anytime and anywhere despite lack of batteries or power.
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