Thursday, 13 September 2012

E Book versus Tree Book

E Book versus Tree Book - This was a catchy phrase I heard on the radio and I think it asks a good question.  Which do you prefer? Which do I prefer for that matter? After all it is my blog.

I have to say that I love books. I love the soft rustle of the page as it turns to reveal more of the book’s mystery. I love that unique smell of ink on paper and I love to study the front cover. I like to try to relate the cover picture to a particular scene within the book, not always possible I know, because some covers are abstract to the extreme and others seem to have no relation what-so-ever to the story.  Still…I like to look. That sounds creepy doesn’t it?  The point is…the paperback has a distinct physicality that just isn’t present with an e book.

Then you have to consider the process involved in purchasing a book.  I have spent many hours roaming the shelves in the bookstores, (now it seems to take me hours just to find a bookstore) I’d scan the colourful, exciting and sometimes misleading covers, until I found one in my ‘genre of the day’ that caught my eye. Phase two; pick it up and read the blurb on the back, if it sounded good I had one more test to run before it left the store with me.  Flicking through a few pages I’d check out the style of the author, that’s my thing…no matter how good the story sounds, I won’t buy it if I don’t like the way it was written.

Yes, buying and reading the good old paperback is undoubtedly good for the senses. Whether curling up on the sofa, soaking in the bath or killing time on public transport. Even licking your fingers to turn the page, and then wondering what that god-awful taste was, only adds to the experience of enjoying a good book. Except…since I bought an e reader (shock horror) none of those things seem important anymore.

What made me put aside all of the emotional and pleasurable experiences of purchasing and reading a Tree Book, for the more clinical practice of reading an E Book?  Well to be honest I only did it to help me get published.  Huh?  Most of you know that I have written a Young Adult (YA) novel.  Now, I probably shouldn’t make this public knowledge, but I did promise to keep you updated with my efforts towards getting my book published, so here I go.

When I started sending my manuscript out, a lot of publishers wanted to know what YA novels I had read recently, and who my favourite authors were.  It shames me to say that I hadn’t read any. (Sorry publishers)  To be totally honest I hadn’t read much of anything over the past 9 months as I had been totally focused on writing. So what’s a girl to do?  I immediately ordered and e reader then started to look at the YA e books available online, there are millions.  As soon as my e reader arrived, I got to buying.  I now have a small library of YA novels, and a few other things as well, so I don’t have to make things up next time I send my manuscript to a publisher. (Again I am sorry.)

I have to say that I didn’t like the e reader at first.  It just didn’t feel or smell the same, and there was no licking of the finger required, just a simple tap on the screen.  But it serves its purpose well. The stories are the same, the pages still turn and when you open it, it always takes you back to where you left off.  I’m sure we’ve all lost our bookmarks and spent the first couple of valuable reading minutes searching for our place, well…never again.

I’ll admit that I am a true convert and I make no apologies for it. I can take my books; notice the plurality, everywhere with me. I no longer have to fit a door stop of a book into my already crowded handbag; this is a big bonus for me because as well as the other bits and pieces in my bag I now have to carry reading glasses.  Does anyone know why they give us such big, bulky cases for our reading glasses?  Do they think we are too blind to find them otherwise? I digress. If I want a book I can download it in minutes, it can be read in the sunlight or shade, indoors or out and it is small, light and portable. I do miss browsing the book stores, although I know I could still browse, I would feel guilty when I went home to buy online.

There is one big drawback for me in using an e Book; you see I have a bad memory, a really bad memory.  I even bought a book years ago about how to improve my memory and I forgot where I put it…I kid you not. Okay, so when I pick up a paperback I would always look at the cover while I got settled. In doing this I read the book title and the name of the author.  Now over the days or weeks of reading the book those two bits of information tended to stick in my memory.  I can still list dozens of book titles and authors that I have read, even as far back as my school days (and that’s a very long time ago).  But when I pick up my e reader and switch it on, all I see is the pretty cover I bought for it, then it opens to the last page I read, so if you were to ask me to give the titles and authors of the books that I have read on my e reader, I’d have to say…none.  

For me it’s a bit of a conversation killer,

“Yeah, I just finished this great book. No sorry can’t for the life of me remember the title. Nope don’t know who wrote it either.” See what I mean?

For the authors it’s not so good either, they need to be remembered and to be talked about, especially in this techno age where word of mouth and social media rules, though I think I have found a solution to my problem. I will try printing a copy of the book cover and stick it onto the inside cover of my e reader.
Does that mean I’ll have the world’s first             e tree reader?

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