by author Scott Nicholson
Reading paper books is an emotional experience for which many of us have developed nostalgia. We remember our Dr. Seuss books, our early school readers, our library adventures, then the teen years and really ranging into our individual tastes. Right now, most of us did that with paper books. Ten years from now? I’m not so sure.
I remember in the 1990s when a few Chicken Littlers were warning about the death of paper books. I laughed at them. I remember in the early 21st century when writers first started wondering about whether they should protect their electronic rights. The industry laughed at them. On Christmas Day, Amazon sold more eBooks than paper books. I’m not laughing anymore. I am selling eBooks. And I am writing books with the expectation that they will be eBooks.
Since I became interested in this issue, my research has shown that Kindle, Nook, and other eReader-device owners not only buy and read more books than they ever have before, they are trying genres and subject matter they never would have picked up otherwise. One man on the Kindle Boards hadn’t read a book in 30 years because of visual impairment. Because he can now blow up the text size, he has read four books since Christmas. Teachers are taking their Kindles into classrooms and making reading cool again. Kids already have their own personal devices and are used to them. That’s their nostalgia.
I fully appreciate those who defend the smell of pulp and ink, the tactile sensation of pages, the brilliance of a four-color paper cover and foil-stamped title logo. I love paper books, and I believe they will be around for the rest of my lifetime. There will still be bookstores, but they will be specialty shops and antiquaries instead of commerce centers. How much have you spent at your local indie bookstore lately? Can you even find an indie within a two-hour radius? Here in my small university town, we have one indie bookstore and one specialty store that sells vinyl records. We no longer have a store that sells CDs, and only one chain video store. Are vinyl records the only “real music”?
I still have plenty of paper books. Some I keep because of nostalgia. Other books I give away, but I still have the experience of the story. The “paper book” object is separate from the “book” experience of the story. Objects are ephemeral and paper crumbles to dust. The experience endures.
Scott Nicholson is the author of eight “real books” and six “fake books” (er, eBooks). Some of the real ones have the same stories as the fake ones. The difference is the “real books” have often been declared out of print by the publisher and removed from store shelves, so his dedicated readers must take extreme measures to find them, including plundering garage sales and stealing from the library. His eBooks are easily available and cheap. The Skull Ring and The Red Church are two such cheap books at under $2 each. But, as the commercials say, the experience is priceless. Visit Scott at http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com.
Paper or Plastic: Is A Book Still A Book?
by author Scott Nicholson