We all know by now, eBooks did not kill physical books the way all the doomsayers predicted. I’ll be honest, it looked like they came a little closer to victory than I had expected, but recent reports state that eBook sales are slowly declining while physical book sales surge once again. This, I think, is due in large part to Bookstagram and Booktube. There are plenty of Youtubers and Instagrammers out there with accounts based solely around books - prettily filtered photos of the latest titles or rare covers, videos with reviews or recommendations. The bookshelf is always a key feature - there are many booktubers out there who’ve recorded tours of their own shelves, showing off their favourites, arranging their books in specific ways (ever seen someone arrange their novels by colour? Sheer madness). My daughter has a bookshelf that could rival any of them - it is her pride, her joy, her anxiety if you dare to mess with it. I think she loves books more than I do.
No kidding, this is just a tiny wee part of the collection.
I’ve always been a bookist. Reading has forever been a pleasure (unless it’s a novel by Shaun Hutson – trash from the bottom of the bin). Books trigger pleasure centres like no other objects can - I have no interest in precious metals or shiny things or things that go faster than other things. A library, a bookstore, these are places put together with magic. I always doubted, therefore, the very notion that reading an eBook could be a pleasure. I’ve always loved stories, but they are meant to live on paper, gathered together for us to flick through while snug on comfy sofas.
We have seen that a well-stocked bookshelf is a wonderful thing to behold. Mind you, a good eBook reader can make your virtual bookshelf look pretty great too. Here’s what eReader Prestigo looks like:
It turns out that eBooks are ridiculously handy. This is their greatest strength. I always have a bunch ready on my phone. There’re loads in my kindle account that I’ve hoarded. It takes me quite a while to get to work (the full everyday job, not the fun writery one, that one can happen anywhere), and being able to select a book to read on my phone at the same time as listening to music (magic!) Is just so easy. I’m not always in the mood to carry a lot of stuff around with me. eBook apps are a full library in your pocket, and with a few presses of the touchscreen you will always find something to suit your mood. An example: fancy some classic horror? Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? You can download them, legally, for free. Why on earth would you not?
I’m a bit more experimental with eBooks too. I’ve read novels I probably wouldn’t have bought in paperback. An example: The Diviners series. I didn’t think it would suit me at all, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
Also, we all have that one author (or two, or three) that we follow religiously, whose releases we must buy immediately and in the best possible format. Oftentimes that means hardback. It’s not so comfortable to lug that around on the train every time you want a read. You might not want to take it out anywhere. You might not want to touch it at all. Which means buying the paperback version as well. This is money, people. It all adds up.
Mind you, there’s a pricing issue with eBooks as well, on occasion. New releases simply don’t represent good value as an eBook. It can be a lot of money to pay for something that is basically ones and zeroes, and I don’t see this perception ever fully leaving. It’s the physicality of a hardback or paperback that wins. It’s been said so many times that it’s become a cliché, but if you’re paying money then nothing beats actually holding the object you’ve paid for. This is where the self-publishers/low-mid range publishers can win. If a novel you’re unsure of is only three or four dollars, or it’s on sale for a quid/buck/euro or even free, then you might be a lot more likely to give it a try.
(I am perfectly aware that you can buy epic amounts of physical books on the cheap too - but by and large cheap means tatty or at least seriously used - and an eBook will never get tatty (but it might be cheap in many, many ways, depending on the author)).
eBooks have made self-publishing easier than ever. If you can write a book, you can get it out there for people to read if they so choose. Before I go any further here, let me say this: writing a novel from start to finish, editing it, publishing it, that’s a huge achievement, and anyone who has managed it should be proud. Writing requires vision and determination. It’s a long lonely job and you’ve got to be determined if you hope to reach the end. eBooks mean more authors than ever have a chance (however slight) of being seen, of being read, and that is the whole point of writing. Traditional publishing is so hard to break into. How many treasures have been lost over the years simply because the right agent or editor wasn’t looking at the right time? The reader within me shudders… If this is the electronic publishing industry’s one victory, then it is a tremendous one.
Now, there’s one thing an eBook can’t do. It can never look like this:
I would never have bought this. It was a gift. A beautiful gift that only I am allowed to touch.
And only this once.
Physical books can be gorgeous things indeed. But eBooks still have those beautiful front covers to look at, and with adjustable fonts and sizes it makes reading a pleasant experience for anyone. Just remember to take care of those lovely eyes, people.
I’m not on this one yet. It’s taken me half a life to read the first volume.
In the end, there’s room for both in my life as a reader. For all their flaws, eBooks have broadened my reading horizons, and that can only ever be a positive. eBooks are here to stay, and I for one am glad about that.
And, in a very neat tie-in, here’s a bunch of great titles from Lodestone Books and Our Street Books that are all less than £1.20 until 31st March 2019. If you’re new to eBooks, then there’s no excuse not to try out some of these excellent reads at a time-limited bargain price. And if you’re already an eBook fan… well, you know what to do.
YA Reads for Under £1.20:
MG Reads for Under £1.20:
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