I bought my daughter a Kindle for Christmas. Tammy was less than enthusiastic when I told her. Like me, she has a house full of books. Neither of us have room left to add new shelves and new books. So I thought a Kindle would be a great gift.
I own a couple of Kindles myself. Plus a Nook. I love being able to carry an entire library with me wherever I go. I love being able to buy a title online from home (often for much less than a paperback or hardback) and have instant access to the book. I love my Kindle. I love my Nook.
But I love the feel of holding a real book in my hands. I love the smell of pulp and ink and glue. I love physical books as much as I love the words printed on their pages.
So does my daughter love to own physical books. She loves to move them around on shelves. She loves to leaf through the pages to pick up bits and pieces of new knowledge. And, when Tammy reads a novel, she loves to become totally immersed in the tactile kinesthetic experience as well as the intellectual experience. She needs to touch the paper to give the experience full meaning. She needs to have real books at her fingertips, not plasticized digital images.
You may have heard that physical books are making a comeback. New independent bookstores are springing up all over the country, and even Amazon has opened its first brick and mortar store filed with real books. Publishers Weekly reports increases in hardbound and paperback sales, and decreases in e-book sales.
And the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) published a study this week proving that library patrons prefer physical books and audio books on CD to digital versions. Library circulation data confirm the BISG findings.
That’s both good news and bad news for writers. The good news is physical books in bookstores and libraries reach real readers who want to buy and read everything a writer writes. The bad news is writers get paid a smaller percentage of hardcover and paperback retail prices than the percentage they’re paid for e-books. Of course, the retail prices of hardbounds and trade paperbacks are usually much higher than e-books. I guess it all comes out in the wash.
Lately, I’ve found myself buying the hardbound or paperback versions over the Kindle or Nook versions, though sometimes I buy both. When Light and Winds and Spilled Milk came out in trade paperback, buyers of the paperback could also purchase a Kindle version for only 99 cents.
A good book is valuable in any form or format. Some folks find it easier to read digital versions. Some find it easier to read print copies. Gretta loved to listen to audio books on tape or CD.
I’m glad to see books are still viable, and I’m happy to see so many people reading or listening to stories in whichever form is most comfortable for them. I also read graphic novels and watch movies based on novels or short stories. I love a good story. Don’t you?