The Dead Tree, Dog-eared Experience
JW Manus has a great post about the “ebooks are not real books” mindset and I’d like to add to his thoughts on the subject. Check out his full post SOME PEOPLE DON’T THINK EBOOKS ARE REAL BOOKS and come back for my follow-up.
JW’s mention of the print book “experience” may sound like some sort of hippie gibberish, but there really is something to that. Up until about two years ago, I was one of those that bought into the “experience”. I just never saw an ereader taking the place of a paperback in my hands. Stephen King’s new book, Joyland, is a Hard Case Crime novel that will be coming out in paperback, but not in ebook until later on. He is trying to create the experience he had, as a kid, reading rolled up paperbacks, with dog-eared pages, and that paper smell for hours and hours. These are fond memories, and (I’m speculating here) he could probably go to his shelf, pick out a book, and have some sort of attachment to that physical book. Whether it be a memory of a special moment in his life or a book that taught him something about writing that changed his craft once and forever.
For everyone, attachment to print books may not be as profound as these examples, but these are the type of things people refer to when talking about the print book “experience”, and it makes sense that you can have these things (in the same way) in the electronic format.
To those people, I say this: Your print book is not going away. Not now. Not ever. The way you buy them may change. I see the brick and mortar bookstore changing to more of a boutique type of shop that sells by POD, in the future, rather than aisles and aisles of racks to pick from. Or you may have to order your print books from an online store, which is a different experience, but they will still be available. And if you don’t believe me, all you have to do is look no further than vinyl records. Go to a REAL music store and you’re sure to find a rack with freshly pressed vinyl of new music. If you go into an electronics store, it’s a fair bet that you will still find new turntables for sale. I know, I’ve seen them. They may be USB devices, but they are still out there.
Books have been around for A LOT longer than records, so I’m pretty sure they will be around for a long time to
As JW says, we, as self-publishers, will have to work to create a new reading experience for you to enjoy so that readers will buy our ebooks because they are good and they enjoy reading them, rather than the simply convenience of the electronic format.