With the huge growth of the ebook market, it's a big controversy at the moment. People either love ebooks or hate them. Proponents of print books cite the feel and the smell as being reasons they would never buy an ereader. Some, perhaps remembering the difficulty of reading long texts on their computer screens, feel they would never get the same immersion in an ebook that they get in a print book.
I admit, at first I was skeptical. But I could download afree kindle app with my new iPad, so I figured I might as well give it a go.
And I could very well be convinced not to buy a print book (that is also available as an ebook) again.
The advantages to a big reader are almost immediately obvious. I remember as a commuter, being near the end of a book, and wonder if it was going to finish it half way through my trip. My choice was either risk a long boring journey without a book, or drag two heavy books around all day. Not an issue with an ebook. I can carry an almost limitless amount of books around for just the weight of my iPad (which I was going to be carrying anyway).
As a child, I remember being so into a story that I would bring my book to the breakfast table, where I would use knives and forks to prop open the pages, juggling them and trying not to get food on my book every time I had to turn the pages. My iPad though, stays open where I want it, and pages can be turned with a simple swipe of a finger.
And perhaps my biggest reason to love ebooks could be a result of living in Australia, where the book selection is severely limited – I can have any book, in any country, on my iPad within seconds. No ringing several bookstores to find out if they have it in stock, no waiting weeks for it to arrive in the mail. It's extremely intoxicating, and I may have been lured into reading far more than I have in several years.
Price is undoubtely a factor in this change as well, and one that has many people up in arms. A large selection of ebooks are available for $2.99, 99 cents, and in some cases, even FREE! There are a lot of comments that these lower prices ‘devalue' books, which funnily enough, is what was said about paperback books when they were first released.
I have never been the type of person who paid full price for a just released hardcover novel. (I never saw the appeal of hardcover anyway, much heavier to carry around than paperback!) I was always the type to wait until it was on sale, borrow it from the library, or buy it second hand. And I'm the same with ebooks. Most of the books I'm reading are either free, or in the $2.99 and under category. I find the price of ebooks far more suitable for my budget.
And when it comes down to it, I don't find reading a book on my iPad any different to reading a print book. I was a little surprised at that, I expected it to be different. But once I started the story, the physical ‘book' fades away, and it really makes no difference what medium I'm reading in.
I buy books for the STORY, and if the story is good, the physical state of the book is irrelevant. It all comes down to which is more convenient, and for me, ebooks are fast taking the lead.
Lest I seem completely biased towards ebooks, there is one issue I have with them. The difficulty with lending books gets annoying. My family are all big readers, and there are times when I'd really love to be able to lend my mum or sister a book I really like, rather than telling them about it and them having to buy it themselves (and no, lending someone my iPad for long enough to read a book isn't going to happen!). There is an option to lend books on Amazon, but in my experience, most authors/publishers don't enable it.
As an author, ebooks will be my main platform. If it proves easy enough, I will probably release a print book as well. Call me a hypocrite, but for some reason I do just want to see my books ‘in print', and hold one in my hands.