Ok, so I am probably a little late to the party with this subject but Christmas has come and gone, and apparently the figure of downloaded books over the festive period is higher than it’s ever been. Now I realise we are moving ever faster into a technological age, and yes I also realise I am writing this online, but like many others I am worried about the future of the book, the tangible paperback or hardback book. E-readers, such as the Kindle have soared in sales the past year or so and more and more readers are opting to download a book rather than visit a bookshop and hand their cash over to an actual human being and not a humongous website. Books are not dead…yet. Nope, I won’t let them be overtaken by the e-publishing machine.
Now this is where I may start to sound like a walking-contradiction but believe me, I would choose a book over an e-book any day. However, for my birthday last year someone bought me a Kindle. Dun, dun, dunnnnn! And I realised, for the sake of convenience I was surprisingly appreciative for it. I have received worst presents, believe me. But we’ve all been there, going on holiday for example and you’re scared of finishing all the books you have packed so you cram one more in, just taking it over the luggage allowance, therefore you become determined to finish them all to prove it was worth paying that extra twenty five quid per kilo charge! Now I tend to take one paperback and my Kindle, just so I feel like I am sitting on the fence and not totally choosing a side. Saving space and weight by choosing to use a Kindle is simply convenience to me, and it’s not every day I go on holiday or travel, also I know I will never get over the joy of going into a bookshop and wandering around submerged in all the stories on offer.
Writing a book, editing, publishing, marketing, and purchasing… now that is the tradition to me. Publishers create a buzz that e-books don’t. Think of all the writers who rely on publishing deals for their livelihood, and yet some books are being sold on Amazon for 20p! I am not talking about self-publishing here because that’s a different topic all together. I’m talking about the worrying possibility that we will lose something special if e-books became the only way to publish and purchase. If you’re as passionate about reading and writing as I am you will understand what I mean when I say there is nothing like buying a new book; the feel, the smell, the beautiful covers, the imagination etc.
Over the festive period, I received plenty of book vouchers and I have already used them all up. I purchased five or six physical books and did not download one. I am not saying my Kindle is going to waste or collecting dust, it is there if and when I need it, but having an e-reader has made me realise how much we still need bookshops and my first choice will always be a trip to the bookshop, simply because I want them to stick around and stand their ground.
2 thoughts on “Convenience Vs. Tradition”
I’m totally with you on this issue Nicola. There’s something incredibly satisfying about bending the spine of a brand new book. I love the aesthetics of it, the texture the smell, the anticipation & actually being able to see how far through it you are! It is therefore with great sadness that this year I have also caved and graciously accepted an ‘e-reader’ from good old St. Nic. For me it’s both a storage and primarily, a cost issue. Whether we like it or not the mere fact that a download is so much cheaper than a paper copy (£7.99 versus £1.92 for my most recent download) fills me with fear for the future of the book store. I can’t help but think that the industry needs to find some way of reducing its overheads in order to compete on the cost issue although I’ve no idea how. So for now I am reduced to being told what percentage of the book I have read rather than physically seeing my progress through it. *sigh* It’s not ideal but it is what it is. Maybe I would be more endeared to the ebook if there were not so many glaringly obvious spelling and grammatical errors….sack the proof reader! (Is there such a thing in e-land??!) M x
I only really use my e-reader when I travel or commute. I think it’s best to think of it as a practical device rather than as a replacement for printed books.