Dramaquill's All Things Writing

May 10, 2011

E-books vs. Print – the debate continues

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The world of modern technology moves faster and faster with each passing day.  We already know that whatever new gadget or program we purchase, it’ll probably be obsolete by the time we get it home as developers work on the next generation.  There’s always something faster and better just around the corner.

As writers, we are faced with new technology when seeking publication of our manuscripts.  There’s the traditional print book, the POD (print on demand), books on CD Rom and e-books. 

Many see the surge of popularity toward the e-book as the downfall of the printed hard copy, but as an author whose first novel has come out in e-book format, to be followed by print, I can attest that a large majority of followers still prefer having an actual book in their hand, something they can display on their bookshelves.

E-books have been around a lot longer than one might think.  According to Wikipedia, the earliest e-book, developed for just a select few, was in 1971.  The nineties saw the addition of books on floppy disk and CD Rom.  By the mid ninetees, ebooks appeared online and at the turn of the century, large publishers, like Random House, began selling this digital version as well.

So are e-books going to replace the paper version anytime soon?  This author doesn’t think so.

What are the advantages of buying e-books?

  • often cheaper
  • an e-book reader can hold an entire library
  • one can carry their library with them, all inside a device smaller than many print books
  • books can be downloaded and read instantly (no waiting to order)
  • e-books can be downloaded and read on your computer (no need to buy a device)

The e-book reader and this digital technology hasn’t been embraced by everyone.  It’s not likely that schools will be able to afford to order e-book readers for all kids enrolled, so the paper version of books will likely line library shelves for quite some time.

Many individuals do not want to have yet another gadget, or are not willing to learn new technology and feel that print books are a simpler way to get their reading done.  Many say that holding a book in their hand is still a feeling they enjoy.

But for authors trying to break into the publishing world, there are many e-publishers offering traditional contracts who might just be a little more willing to take a chance on a new author because creating an e-book doesn’t cost as much as a print run.

Does this mean your writing doesn’t have to live up to its highest standards?

Absolutely not!

Are e-books all self published?

NO – this is a myth that many less informed individuals subscribe to, thus impeding their switch to the digital format.

If you do decide to purchase an e-reading device, there are several out there to choose from including Amazon’s Kindle, the Kobo, the Sony e-reader and my favorite, the iPad, which is a tablet computer, not just an e-reader.

http://www.amazon.com/Kindle

http://www.kobobooks.com

http://ebookstore.sony.com/reader/

http://www.apple.com/iPad

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7 Comments »

  1. Just this week my book ‘A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing’ has become available to purchase on Amazon etc. This book was written not through experience, but research. Hard slog research. This link will give you a brief guide as to how it ended up happening http://elenaransley.net/2011/02/02/e-publishing-where-i-am-at/

    The thing is, I was completely anti e-books, and felt I had to get involved in the whole industry to remain up to date. I still believe that paper books are required, and I would love nothing more than to get a traditional publishing deal, but e-books, they are great, truly.

    Since I have completed further research, considering Ted Nelsons proposal of the Xanandu project in the 1940’s. E-books were an inevitable process for the publishing industry. I undertook market reserach and have concluded that the majority of the negativity towards e-books comes from a lack of understanding.

    I can’t wait to see how the market develops in the coming months and years.

    Comment by Ellie — May 10, 2011 @ 3:29 PM | Reply

    • I think as with everything new, some people warm up to things faster than others. My parents and friends of their generation who still don’t even have computers find the e-book idea uncomfortable…that is, until they learn the technology. After showing one senior my iPad and all it can do, she’s set to get one, rather than a big desktop, because it offers her everything she’s looking for in a small, portable tablet. E-books continue to grow in popularity – I think that in time, they will become the way of the future.

      Comment by dramaquill — May 11, 2011 @ 10:39 AM | Reply

  2. I have fought eBooks for a long time. Now my mind, too, has changed (after research).

    Your comment about schools not being about to afford eReaders made me remember the day when there were no computers in classrooms. Then, there were 2 or 3 which were different makes. To now, when uniformed computers are within each classroom along with a computer lab with enough machines for a full classroom as well a tech-lab teacher.

    I have no doubt that eReaders will come to a classroom near you soon.

    Comment by sandy Carlson — May 11, 2011 @ 8:15 AM | Reply

  3. You’re absolutely right, Sandy. With time, all the newest technology becomes more readily available, doesn’t it!

    Comment by dramaquill — May 11, 2011 @ 10:40 AM | Reply

  4. Read: Bookstores must reinvent themselves to survive price war. Christopher Bantick. Inquirer Weekend Australian Dec 31 2011-Jan 1 2012, and my response to Bantick

    In his essay on competition between bookstores and online purveyors for the hearts, minds and not least money of the book-reader or book-gifter, Christopher Bantick pays no attention to the elephant in the room. Bantick ignores the torrent of commentary on the threat posed by e-books and e-readers to print books. The convenience, portability and screen lighting of the e-reader could lethally diminish the demand for printed books, rendering the argument about where readers prefer to buy their paper page-turners irrelevant. Furthermore print book production, distribution and storage is not eco-friendly, and e-books eliminate the middlemen between the author and reader.

    On the other hand, regardless of how pervasive technology becomes in our literary lives, readers will continue to long to feel the seductively tangible turn of each page, flip rapidly through a book, take notes in the margins, have covers autographed, pass them on to the next generation and display their literary inclinations for all to see on bookshelves. Even before considering the added luster of book clubs, café-book store and plush seats in reading areas, bookstores already offer personal attention, the ease of browsing other nearby books and the civic opportunity to support local businesses. Online booksellers could be seen to offer a complementary (though impersonal) service for books that are not available locally. I am convinced that the argument needs to extend beyond the future of paper books to the future of reading itself, in our fast-paced distractible world enthralled to the allure of the moving image and social networking possibilities offered by ubiquitous handheld screens.

    Joseph Ting

    Comment by Joseph Ting — January 3, 2012 @ 5:05 AM | Reply

    • Thanks for your take on the ebook versus print book debate and for stopping by.

      Comment by dramaquill — January 3, 2012 @ 12:13 PM | Reply


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