A while back, when e-books were the newest electronic thing and authors like me were squirming because e-books don’t look like books or feel like books or a smell like books, we didn’t quite know what to make of them. And when people asked us how we felt about them, all we could do is shrug our shoulders and offer a creased brow of concern.
How are you supposed to feel about something you aren’t quite sure is good or bad for you career-wise? And if you decide it’s bad, what is the use of hanging onto that negative attitude when you can do nothing to stop that thing from happening?
Someone asked me this very question a couple days ago when I announced on Facebook that The Shape of Mercy in e-book format is a featured 99-cent download for the month of June. Truth be told, I have neither good vibes or bad vibes about e-books. I cannot make someone who loves e-books buy my bound book. People who love e-books want books in e-book form. If my books aren’t in that format, they will likely never read anything written by me and I will have lost an entire segment of readers.
The scary thing is, that segment of readers – readers of e-books – is growing all the time. I must embrace that notion or be content with reaching only certain kinds of readers, not every kind. That doesn’t seem like a great idea. When books began to show up on tape and then CD, did we not think this was an innovation that would gain for us new “readers?”
Someday I would like to own a Kindle. I truly would. I am in the middle of writing a novel with a Civil War thread and I have more than a dozen research books lying around. The thought of having all those books inside a device I can fit in my purse is invigorating, from a research standpoint. Will I still buy other books on paper? To my dying day.
Every new advance that replaces – to a large extent – something old creates devotees of the older thing who refuse to budge. Not budging makes them happy and they usually harm no one. There are probably a few people out there who refuse to write a novel on a computer, they use their typewriter. And then perhaps there are even fewer people out there who refuse to use a typewriter and instead write on a legal pad with a fountain pen. And maybe there are fewer still who write with a quill on parchment. And maybe there is one person out there who insists on writing his story on the wall of his cave. Who knows?
I am okay with the e-book revolution. I will always love the “real” thing better, not because a story is better told on paper but because books with pages are part of my lifetime experience on the planet. I like them. I love them. I like having them near me after I’ve read them, and I like that their lovely, colorful spines whisper hello to me each time I pass one of the many bookcases in my house.
But if you want my book in e-book fashion, well, you can have it. . .Please do.