Monday, June 17, 2013
NINJA STUFF: E-books Vs. Print Books
I wanted to sound off today with my take on e-books: I love them. I've had an Amazon Kindle for two years now and when I'm forced to read an actual physical printed book, I sort of resent it. I've lugged around the wrist bending Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before, and I far prefer the Kindle version.
I realize that in the eyes of some of you Esteemed Readers, I am now worse than Hitler for having admitted that:) I know this because I listen to all the panel discussions of editors and publishers I can get my hands on and many of them are focused on this very topic. And almost always the panel concludes that e-books are nice, but printed books are better. I completely disagree.
I get the argument for the printed book, I do. But as someone who just moved and who has acquired 8 full book cases over a life well-lived; as someone who just had to lug those books over no small number of stairs, when my Kindle could've easily held most of them and been carried in a bag with a bunch of other stuff, I'm wondering why more people aren't openly embracing e-books.
My prediction: print will never die completely, but most reading in the future will be of electronic text. Thank goodness! If people didn't read electronic text, this blog would cease to exist. It's going to be a while before all people have access to e-readers, which is what keeps me from seriously considering self-publishing (more on that in a moment). As with everything in the world influenced by Gordon Gecko and Ayn Rand, there is a great disparity between the few people privileged to have e-readers, and the many who have to rely on physical books to learn how to perform self surgeries and other sad things our current economic model of screw-everybody-but-those-at-the-top has brought about.
When the ninja was a wee child, many Supermans ago, my family was the only one I knew with a personal computer my father got (the phone in my pocket is far more powerful) because he was a man named Kent who worked for a newspaper. These many years later, almost no one works for newspapers (the new Lois Lane works at The Daily Planet, but publishes on a blog), and almost everyone has access to a computer, whatever their economic status. I'm friends with a struggling family who have a laptop, but can't afford internet service, which is why I don't worry about them reading this post:)
Mrs. Ninja is fond of proclaiming that physical media is dead, and despite the shelf of VHS tapes in my closet, she's probably right. I've mentioned before I no longer have a television or a video game system. I played Bioshock Infinite by downloading a PC version to my laptop and I'll be watching the final season of Breaking Bad by purchasing commercial-free episodes through Amazon, which I'll watch when it's convenient to me, not at 10:00 on a Sunday night when I have to be up early to write before work.
The nearest book store is a 30-minute drive from me and I live in Indianapolis, not exactly a ghost town. A few years from now, the nearest book store may be an hour away. Most readers have the option of either the one book shelf at Wal-mart, or the library. With an e-reader, you never have to leave your house for a new book, and you never have to be limited by the supply of your local library or increasingly less-local retailer.
E-books are here to stay and the proliferation of e-readers increases, they're only going to become more prominent. As publishers buy up publishers, creating an eventual super publisher with the power to solely determine what will and won't be published, I say the advent of e-readers is the best possible news for writers. We'll talk more about self publishing another post as its something I've started paying a lot more attention to, but for now I just want to say how happy I am that's it an option.
Writers being able to deliver their stories direct to their readers without a publisher's permission will undoubtedly result in some bad books published before they or their author is ready, but traditional publishing has often resulted in the same. I'm glad I got to read Lynne Reid Bank's The Wrongly-Coulored Dragon and Joni Sensel's 3rd in The Farwalker Trilogy, and if traditional publishing were the only game in town, those books might still be on their author's shelves.
Given that the Ninja routinely interviews literary agents and editors (the path to traditional publishing), and that my review policy specifically forbids self-published books for Book of the Week consideration, all of this is revolutionary thinking for me. An old critique partner of mine, Susan Kaye Quinn, started her blog at the same I started this one. She went the self-publishing route and has far more readers than I do and wonderful books you can and should read right now, right this moment. The Ninja has a collection of manuscripts you may one day get to read.
In conclusion, Man of Steel was seriously mind-blowing:) If you've always wanted to see Superman punch a dude from one side of Metropolis to the other (who wouldn't want to see that?), you need to get to the theater and help get the grosses up so I can one day bask in the joy of a sequel.
And if you have your own thoughts about e-books and/or modern self publishing, please sound off in the comments below.