Annie On Writing

October 31, 2012

RealBooks V eReaders – The battle continues

Filed under: Observations — Annie Evett @ 11:50 pm

RealBooks” or eBooks – have your chosen a side yet?

The discussion surrounding which format is the ‘best’ still rages on the social media, at writers festivals and on the blogosphere. Champions for both sides have strong arguments, leaving little room for the public to sit on the fence.

One of the strongest argument focuses on the validity of ebooks and eReaders, in so much as the view is that ebooks aren’t ‘real books.’ Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t this not only reek “elitist mentality”, but drive a real barrier between writers?

The previous argument then leads into the fear that ebooks will ‘take away’ from the printed book market. After listening to a publishers forum in a recent writers festival, it would appear that this is not a fear held by large firms. People will continue to buy printed books alongside digital versions for differing reasons. One publisher enthused that the sales of ebooks have opened new markets and that more books on the whole are being bought, rather than less.

Anther fear held is that ebooks will decrease writers ability to sell work. The publishers and agents on one of the panels I attended agreed that there was no reason to believe that the increase of ebooks would affect a writers ability to write or sell work, in fact, all indications were that it would extend and expand opportunities for a range of genres.

Whilse I personally love the feel of a book and turning the pages of a printed version,for the ease of weight and space while travelling, an eReader will win hands down.

The touch screen and ease of increasing the font size breaks the barriers down for many reluctant readers. With many applications, the ability to have a book read aloud , make personal footnotes or look up certain words as you read, makes it a valuable educational tool. Although I have certain texts I have underlined or written small notes in the margins, on the whole, I would not normally ‘mark’ a book; whereas a text held on an eReader can be highlighted, marked and shared amongst a readers group or between friends simply.

The eco card is often waved in support of eReaders. I am not sure that its clear if the rainforests are out of danger because of the drop in printed sales; though the skeptic in me believes there would be other factors, rather than publishing firms, which have to answer for the destruction of native forests.

There is an argument that you cannot read your ebook in the bath. As romantic or luxurious  as it may sound, I’ve found that reading in the bath is not particularly comfortable, or good for the book in question. Who hasn’t dropped a favourite novel into the soapy suds of your bath, or at least plastered soggy finger prints on the page as you turn them? I would suggest leaving reading out of the watery zone all together.

Reading in bed is another argument which holds some sway. Its agreed that books get heavier as you get tireder and your bedside light never in the right angle for optimal viewing. The great thing about an eReader is not only spiffy bed holders will position it in the perfect spot, leaving your arms to flop beside you, but that most have a back lit screen, making reading in low light better for your eyes.

At the end of the day.. words make a book, not the medium. It would appear that there is an elitist attitude with regards to what a real book is which in turn questions ‘real writers’.  Whilst the smell and feel of a page will bring comforting memories back to you, its the story, the characters and the trip into another world which  you are in love with, not flakey paper. Embrace stories, rather than the format. Support writers, regardless of how they choose to publish.

Cartoon – Sylvia Lu Land is an artist, blogger and writer.

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