Hi, my name is Kirk and I like books.
(I will wait for the chorus of hellos.)
Hard copy books.
At least that is what I imagine the response would be if you watch the trends of book sales and listen in on a lot of author/reader conversations.
Before you think I am somebody who just doesn’t want to change, I am usually one of the first people in my group to try new technology so I do not consider myself a technophobe in any way. I read a lot of digital media, whether that be e-zines, newspapers, or research. I also understand the tremendous leap forward in convenience e-books have provided for both readers and people within the industry. I spoke with an agent in New York City a few years ago and she pointed out how big a change good e-readers made to her business. A long-time agent, she said the week after she purchased her e-reader she carried a purse to work on Friday.
What? Why is that a big deal?
She went on to say that like most agents, she did a lot of power reading of manuscripts, partials, and queries over the weekend. For years she had carried a large canvas bag into work on Fridays, filled it with paper printouts, and toted the whole load home. However, with the e-reader, she loaded everything she wanted to read digitally, slipped it into a normal purse, and traveled home without worrying about dislocating a shoulder.
That ease of use is just as important to regular readers. I understand how important it is for someone to just pack a Kindle when they hop onto the airplane or go to the beach on vacation. I understand how nice it is to have a great deal of their personal library with them wherever they carry their e-reader. I also understand the importance of privacy. During the initial rise of the sales of e-books, I read a publishing industry analyst who said without e-readers, the “Fifty Shades” books would never have been as huge a hit as they [roved to be. His reasoning was that while some women may not care if people noticed them reading the series, he opined that many women would have been hesitant to read books that others may find… slutty (His term, not mine.). Of course, once the “Fifty Shades” sales reached a certain point, a tipping point, they became more acceptable to a larger group and the stigma dissipated.
And I have not even started on the price difference. A voracious reader can fill their yearly habit for a fraction of the cost if they choose to purchase e-books over physical copies.
So, with all those benefits for e-books, why do I still choose to read exclusively hard copy?
Because I like the feel of a book in my hand when I am lying in bed reading. I like the texture of the pages and crackle of the spine the first time you read a book. I like being able to walk into my office without having any idea what I am interested in reading that day and scanning over row after row, title after title. I like being able to loan a good book to a friend – preferably a copy that is dog-eared and well-worn. I like knowing the books I have on the shelves will be there tomorrow and the next day for me, as well as down the road for my children and grandchildren. (If you think you can do that with e-books, you had better read your agreements again. Amazon reminded Kindle owners just last week that when you “purchase” a book, you are really only leasing it and they can take it away from you at any time under certain circumstances.)
So, even though a vast majority of my friends, readers and authors alike, like e-books as their first choice, I am going to stick to hard copies. In the end, I see reading as an entertainment experience. So just like the audiophile who insists on listening to music on vinyl or the movie watcher who insists on the 72-inch hi-definition television, I prefer to enjoy my recreation a certain way. In this case that means a three-pound, 500-page book on my chest as I lean back in the recliner and read.
Hi, my name is Kirk and I read hard copy books.