Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | July 5, 2011

Writers: What if they don’t have an ereader?

So, you’ve written a super book. Good reviews are rolling in and you want/need to extend your readership.
You may, as have I, run into several problems er, challenges. Let’s list a couple of responses:
• “I just love the feel of a book in my hand. A real book.” Okay this comes from one of my friends who should know better. He isn’t a true Luddite. He spends quite a bit of time on Facebook. Maybe he also misses the “feel” of the old circular dial on his telephone and the sound of the clicking as the number is entered into the system. Bogus reason. I recently went to a local library and joined in a book fair. I was, at the time, the only author who hadn’t published a book on paper. I set up a PowerPoint presentation on the ways that readers can connect to the modern world of reading without dead trees. I expected, and got the “…feel of a book…” response from a retired librarian. I was ready. I had hollowed out a leather-bound copy of Madame Bovary bought in an estate sale for $3.00. I handed it to her and when she opened it, my Kindle was inside. She was horrified that I’d destroyed the revered pages of the book and hurried off as if she’d witnessed sacrilege. So much for the “Feel of a book” nonsense.
• Another, quite closely related to the first: “I love the smell of a new book.” Absurd. Go to a brick-and-mortar bookstore (there are fewer now than before) and watch. Are there many sitting in the overstuffed chairs lustfully snuffling books? If so, stand aside, either the cops or the folks in white jackets may come in soon and run over you to get to the booksniffer (that’s a new word, I had to teach it to my computer). This is even sillier than the first.
• So now, let’s get to it. What advice do you give those who are neither bookmassagers or booksniffers (notice the other new word?). The first advice is to buy an ereader. There are a number of choices and my purpose is not to explore differences. Probably the best-known are; the iPad, Kindle and Nook. If one cannot work the purchase in their budget, what then?
• Alternatives:
o Go to Amazon and download the free kindle reader app for your laptop, or any of several other devices including the desktop computer. It works across platforms. http://amzn.to/91eo2U
o Another excellent choice is the Calibre E-Book Management program. It is free to download and frequently updated. One of the terrific features is the ease with one can read a .PDF file using the system. There’s a video on the site, but the app is quite intuitive in use. http://calibre-ebook.com/
o A quick click through a search engine yields “Top Ten” or “Most Popular Eight” free (or very cheap) ebook reading program for almost any electronic communications device. Look ‘em over.

No, paper books will never go away, nor will legacy publishers. There are still those who ride horses and drive horse-drawn buggies. There are still companies who make and sell buggy whips. A quick internet search produced a number of companies. I found several companies making hand-driven printing presses.

But, let’s be serious. The ebook is not only here to stay, the phenomenal growth rate is more rapid than anyone expected. Prices will inevitably come down and most people will soon wonder why some resisted the change. I’m sure that, in 1440, when a guy named Gutenberg invented his movable type press, there were those in scriptoriums who said that their customers would prefer the feel of a nice papyrus scroll or the smell of fresh ink and wonderful gilt illuminations.

Happy ebook reading and publishing!

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Responses

  1. I love all of those things about books. That being said, I won’t actually read one anymore. I use my ipad, with the Kindle and Nook readers. Oh, I sitll buy the books, because I like them, but really…it is easier to read on an ereader.

    So I get the best of both worlds, the ease and enjoyment of the ebook and the narcissistic vanity of the print version sitting on my shelf.

    Great post.

  2. I, too, still keep some favorites. Many of the books I love, by the authors I admire, are not yet available as ebooks.,

    In any case, I use both my iPad and Kindle to read.


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