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Sunday, 20 November 2011

WolfSong Paperback and thoughts on ebooks vs paper

The paperback edition of WolfSong is now up on Amazon.com here for anyone who doesn't have an e-reader.

I never expected to feel so excited over holding a physical copy of the book, but that's exactly what happened when I opened the proof box and pulled the book out.

I do think I need to rework the cover totally, but that needs to go on hold until next year, when my life regains some semblance of sanity and I might actually have some free time.

The fun part was telling my folks the physical book was out. I think my mom was more excited than I was (I think she plans on casually taking a copy out at her next ladies club meeting and waving it at people). She has also now decided I am, indeed, a "real" writer, and that was  interesting to me.

It seems a lot of people don't consider an ebook to be real, whether they have an ebook reader or not. From the writer's perspective, this can be frustrating - the same amount of time and energy goes into it whether it's published as an electronic or paper copy, but I think we underestimate the desire to physically touch something.

I haven't bought a paper version of a book since my brother bought me my kindle (best Christmas present ever!), although I think I'll have to break down and go back to paper to catch up on the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, since the publisher STILL hasn't released e-book rights for half of them in the UK. It's not nice to deprive an addict of her favourite paranormal series, publishers. Ahem.

But although I haven't bought a physical book in a long, long time, I still have around 300+ tree books at home. I love the feel of a tree book, and every now and then I cheat on my kindle and pick up one of my much-read books and fall into one of my favourite worlds again.

Those books are mine. They feel real and tangible in a way that e-books don't, despite their convenience. When I moved to the UK and had to give away my books, it hurt.

Some of it may have to do with the item itself. An e-reader is a pretty anonymous piece of equipment, if you think about it. You can't be pretentious on the tube and flash the cover of the latest must-read at people, and you can indulge in whatever your guilty reading pleasure is without trying to hide the cover.

Ebook readers are light, convenient, and a great way to get cheaper books. But it doesn't feel like a book, or smell like a book. Until you flick the switch on it, it doesn't look like a book, and then it only resembles a book to the person engaged in the screen.

And keep in mind, my generation is the one that likes tech, uses tech, needs it to function - and doesn't trust it. It malfunctions. It eats your important stuff like documents and images, and corrupts them, won't tell you why. If you're me, every now and then it literally blows up or catches fire, and you're left with a funny scorch mark on the wall and a confused look on your face..

What will happen ten, twenty years down the line, as more and more people get comfortable with the ebook concept, remains to be seen. I doubt we'll see the end of physical books in my lifetime, although they may (probably will) become rarer.

Until someone designs an ebook cover that flashes the actual book you're reading across it, and changes when you change the book, I think that feeling will remain, at least for our generation. We need the sight, scent and feel of a paper book to feel like it's "real", to know that it's ours.