Manic Monday: eBooks are for WHAT?!

So I’ve been out of the loop for a bit – being without reliable internet access for a weekend kinda screws with a girl.  However, as much fun as it is to be rewired and working properly, I find myself pissed off already.

Facebook [a wonderfully obtuse invention seemingly hellbent on destroying civilization as a whole] brought to me this morning an article via a friend’s feed.  Her simple response to the article was something along the lines of “I think not.”  Mine, as you can tell, is far more verbose and far less friendly.  I stopped what I was doing – which by the way was far more productive – to stop in and give my opinion.

THIS ARTICLE is what spawned today’s rant.

First off… I don’t care if you’ve just started or you are an award winning author… DO NOT insult my craft.  It’s yours as well, so please respect it.  I truly am a mother hen when it comes to writing because I love it so much.  I’m not afraid to peck out anyone’s eyes.

Second, to The Times… if you intend to let someone run down the literary world, please run your headline through a spell-check first.  Otherwise you invalidate not only the article, but yourself as a legitimate publisher.  Thank you.

Now, to the author:  I understand that you feel the need to run down eBooks because you have your name in print, but can I just say that I know the names of far more eBook authors than I do those with books in wide paper circulation?  Until this morning, I didn’t know your name.  You are just like the rest of us – a working stiff who happens to make money doing something a lot more fun than most other occupations.  Please THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK and consider your words more carefully before you make yourself look like a fool for the whole world to see.  Thanks for the insults… ‘preciate it.

MOVING ON…

Now that the meanness is out of my system I think I can pick apart this argument in a much more civilized manner.  Maybe.

So, this “Award Winning” author [who, as I said, I’d never heard of until just now] has, in so many words, demeaned all technological advancements in the literary world.  According to the above-referenced article, Joan Brady thinks eBooks are beneath her.  My favorite statement from the article:

E-Books, when purchased are “more worthless than used toilet paper, which can at least end up as compost”.

I beg to differ.  A book is a book regardless of the form it takes.  While an eBook isn’t ever going to be a collector’s item (at least not in the form they take now), it offers the EXACT same literary fulfillment as a paper book.  The words are the same.  No, you aren’t going to smell paper if you buy the eBook, but the eBook, in most cases, will be cheaper.

Ms. Brady goes on to say that books are status symbols, that the only reason people want to buy them is to be seen with them.  She further comments [and I’m paraphrasing here] that eBooks will not have true literary merit in the future and will become a catch-all for things like “celebrity biographies, Mills & Boon and porn” [her words, not mine].

Uh…last time I checked, Mills & Boon [which is owned by Harlequin] is a multi-million dollar venture.  If they’re kicking ass and taking names in the eBook world, good on ’em.

AS A READER:

Again, I beg to differ.  I buy a book because I want to read it.  I don’t give a rat’s ass who wrote it so long as it’s a good story.  When I carry book with me, I carry books with the cover to my chest.  Why, you ask?  Because I’m left-handed and my finger is usually stuck between the pages to mark my spot.  I really couldn’t care less who sees what I’m reading.  And when the books go on my shelf?  That’s because I might read them again one day.

I’m sorry, but the Stephen Hawking argument is ludicrous.  No, I don’t own that book.  Nor do I care to…I won’t read it.  My husband and I do have Isaac Asimov books in our collection but guess what… WE READ THEM.  Almost every book in my house has been read at least once.  And if it hasn’t been read it’s because (a) I’ve misplaced it in the piles of other books or (b) I haven’t had time to read down that far in my stack yet.

Now let’s talk about that other comment for a minute… Yes, I write erotica.  Yes, I’m an eBook author [which is likely why I blew a gasket over this article in the first place].  Do I buy just erotica?  HELL NO.  I buy everything I can in eBook format.

Why?

Like I said before… the eBooks are cheaper.  They’re more easily accessible – At ConCarolinas two weeks ago I bought FOUR BOOKS while sitting in a panel [one where I was not a panelist but a reader and interested party in the audience].  All four of them are legitimate fiction.  One was from a panelist.  The other three were mentioned by others on the panel.  I didn’t have to wait and risk forgetting the titles.  I bought them right there while the idea was fresh and they were downloaded to my Nook in seconds.  I’ve already read two of them, too. And I enjoyed the hell out of them, thank you very much.

In my house, books are not a status symbol.  Books are a source of entertainment and education.  There is no point in owning them if you can’t be bothered to read them, and I have a very hard time believing that people buy books just for the sake of taking up shelf-space and collecting dust.

Even my five-month-old daughter understands that books are for reading.  She loves Where the Wild Things Are, by the way.  She giggles at Max.

AS AN AUTHOR:

I find it appalling that an author of any sort would make such harsh statements against his/her own trade.  Technology is definitely the way of the future – everything is going digital and books should be no exception.  There are HUNDREDS of arguments both for and against digital literature so I won’t list them all here. Personally, I find more positives than negatives.

I will say this, though:

Without the invention of eBooks, so very many deserving manuscripts would go unpublished.  Hundreds [possibly thousands] of decent, hard-working, and creative authors would go unrecognized because of the prejudices, the crackpot “markets”, and the money-hungry lack of concern from the major houses.  Small press publishers and eBooks have opened up the literary world in so many ways and given so many people the chance to shine.

And shine they have.

Everyone has heard the horror stories of the Great Unpublished Manuscripts getting picked up and selling millions of copies.  Most people also enjoy shorter fiction – novels are wonderful but we’re not always in the mood to read an eight-hundred page opus.  eBooks give authors the chance to showcase talent in shorter, cheaper ways.

THIS IS WHY EBOOKS ARE HERE.

I’m terribly sorry, Ms. Brady, but your argument is completely invalid. If you don’t believe me, check out the article with the misspelling in the headline.  Then read the comments from those who read your article.

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9 responses to “Manic Monday: eBooks are for WHAT?!

  1. I whole-heartedly agree, my friend. See my comment on the article on facebook. Again, I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank while my pornography is downloaded 100 times today as opposed to her silly print books that may sell 4 copies. I love print books and eBooks alike and the thought that I would only use books as a status symbol is insulting to my intelligence. I hope that her readers feel the same and show her with a drop in her sales.

  2. I like what you have stated above. I prefer physical book in hand, but I certainly understand ebooks and have a kindle myself. At present I have more to be read on kindle than in phyusical form. Good points!
    Beth

    • Oh, I love my real books. I love the smell of paper and the weight of them. Books are my toys and I love them all. It just frustrates me to see someone insult the literary world in such a harsh manner.

  3. I was guilty of preferring print books for quite some time. About a month after I bought my Kindle Fire, my opinion changed (mind…I did still dislike the original kindle I had purchased and it is collecting dust).

    I have a very extensive print library. But it’s because I simply enjoy my book shelves now lol. I don’t give a monkey’s arse about status. I have work ranging from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Jane Austen to Monica McCarty to Ben Kane and Stephen King (you get the idea). I’ve read them all.

    Many I’ve purchased for my selves…AND for my kindle.

    • It’s not the favoritism that bothers me… it’s the poorly-chosen manner in which she states it. I don’t agree with insulting your audience as a whole, and it upsets me to see that there are authors out there who are willing to do that and then still expect people to buy their books.

  4. You make good points. I too still prefer reading and owning print books, but not so I can show them off. I love my bookshelves because they’re a place I can go to meet old friends, to be reminded of things I’ve almost forgotten. My fear is that ebooks will change my personal experience of reading literature, which I’m quite fond of. But there’s no denying that it’s an amazing technology and it’s opening a lot of doors for both writers and readers. Any writer or publisher who denies the benefits is just stubborn and blinkered.

  5. First off… I’m very sorry if the interview came across to you as an insult. As I’m sure you know, the interviewee is often not responsible for an interviewer’s take on what she says.

    Second, it sounds as though the Times printed the article. If so, you might amused to know that they lifted the thing wholesale from the Telegraph, typographical error and all.

    Now to me. I had no more intention of running down ebooks than of insulting you. I own a kindle, use it, enjoy it. The electronic book is here to stay, and I’m glad of it. What I’m trying to do is reassure physical book lovers that the physical book is here to stay as well if not entirely for the most elegant of reasons. Maybe it’s a flaw with us humans, but how others see us is important: our cars, our clothes, our houses, our music, our books. I maintain this is one of the reasons physical books will survive.

    As to your favourite quote though: I wasn’t talking of the content being worthless. I’m talking about ownership. When you’re finished with a physical book, you can sell it or loan it or leave it to your children. Or compost it. You can’t do that with an ebook.

    And I most certainly agree with you that without ebooks a good many books that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day, do see it. I might add that commercial publishers publish an awful lot of stuff that never should get out.

    Again, my apologies for any comments that upset you.

    Joan Brady

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