To \’e\’ or not to \’e\’; why is that the question?

My novel “The Excalibur Parchment”was published in print last November. In late January it became available as an Ebook on Kindle, Kobo, Nook and other digital platforms.
It has been interesting to see the reaction. Some have told me that they held back buying the book until it was available digitally.
Others swear that they will never go the ebook route. Print books, they say, will never die on you from low batteries or from coffee dropped on them. And you can store them on shelves ready to read any time you want. Plus there’s something special about the ability to handle (fondle?) hard copies of books, underline in them and treasure them. Lastly, you actually own and can resell your book if you want whereas ebooks are really only technical licenses to read. You don’t own that copy you bought on Kindle, you only lease it for (usually) a five year period.
Conversely, the ebook argument says that you can store your books just as easily and a whole lot more conveniently. You don’t need miles and miles of shelving (which I confess, I do) to store your books. You can carry a whole library of books on a plane to take on vacation with you and it only takes a miniscule amount of your precious luggage space. And there’s a privacy about what you are reading (you can read that trashy romance novel in your lunchtime and nobody is the wiser).
There are lots of arguments pro and con.  And believers in both argue strenuously that their way is the only way to do it; that their particular choice of reading format is the one that is paramount and thus applies to everyone.
I wonder why? If someone prefers ebooks, why must I march in lockstep with that mentality? Must I now divest myself of all my books for a digital future? And if I do, will that format be superseded in five or ten years by a new as yet unknown technology.
Conversely, if a keep to print only, am I a Luddite dropping farther and farther back into irrelevance and out of touch with the march of progress and technology?
The choice—to E or not to E—seems to be there for my decision.
Certainly the digital format has advantages. An ebook reader, as I noted previously, is a lot easier to tote around than ten or twenty books. They are also (generally) cheaper than their print counterpart.  
A friend once boasted to me that digital books are actually an ecological salvation. Think of the hundred of trees you are saving by not needing paper, he argued. Really? And what about the rare (and sometimes toxic) materials and petroleum needed to manufacture the ebook reader? And the energy needed to constantly recharge the batteries, not to mention the toxicity and danger of the batteries themselves. I have read unsubstantiated stories of people who fell asleep with their mobile devices turned on only to discover that the heat from the device had melted and burned the sheets and pillows overnight.
If I fall asleep reading my paperback, it is still there in the morning alive and well and ready for reading.
But digital devices are convenient, I give you that.
The trouble is, I don’t understand the ‘either one or the other’ arguments coming from both parties. Why is it essential that I embrace the digital format entirely and forsake print from this point forward? Or, why must I be in fact, a luddite huddled in my library, surrounded by acres and acres of books eschewing technology and deriding those who disagree.
It seems to be a common element in today’s society not matter what the area of disagreement. It is all or nothing. You either agree with one side or the other; no middle ground. It applies to politics,
I have run into and debated with young pastors who have embraced the digital world to the exclusion of all else. In fact they sneer at anyone who still uses such mundane tools as pens, paper, books and library research. It’s online or nothing for them. I have also run into older curmudgeons who refuse to go online, sneer at the internet and brag that they never bother with email. I shake my head in frustration at both attitudes.
I confess that I am a died-in-the-wool centrist. I see, understand and accept all arguments on both sides of the ebook disagreement. I have a digital device. I read books on that device and appreciate all its fine points. I have thousands of print books (literally) in my library and I love them. I research for my books online and I also turn to libraries, bookstores and Amazon.
I was really chuffed, to use that hardy British expression, when my book first arrived at my house in print format. I picked it up, flipped through its pages, felt its heft, smoothed my fingers over the cover and generally loved it. (I may even have hugged it). But at the same time, I ensured that it also became available in as many digital formats as possible.  
Let’s face it, my protagonist from the 14th Century may have preferred print. But my 21stCentury characters used the power of modern technology for both good and evil.
So I am happy in both worlds, digital and paper.
I just don’t understand why the question to \’e\’ or not to e\’ even exists.
In response, I’m going to post this blog online and promote it via Facebook and Twitter et al. I will also print out a hard copy for my files.
So there!

1 Comment

  1. Doug says:

    OUTSTANDING! Refreshingly rational! What a novel concept!


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