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IWSG: Getting With the Program

December 4, 2013

InsecureWritersSupportGroupWelcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! If you’re not yet familiar with this fantastic group, we’re a bunch of writers, three hundred and counting, who are brave enough to share our insecurities with the worldwide web. Want to join? Click on this linky, hop on board Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog, and put yourself on the list next to some of the nicest writers on the web.

As I considered whether or not I should ramble on about the dubious quality of the fifty thousand words I wrote for NaNoWriMo, I was struck by another much more dire insecurity.

You see, after having to park five blocks away and fight the holiday crowds that lay between me and my local bookstore, a cozy establishment by the name of Anderson’s Bookshop, I have a confession to make, especially difficult to divulge if I’m to consider myself an aspiring writer of fiction. It’s this:

I don’t own a Kindle.

Yep, no e-book readers of any kind in this household. No Nook, Sony Reader, or Kobo eReader. Not even an iPad.

Of course, just so you know I’m not a complete Luddite, I naturally took advantage of Amazon’s free Kindle app, and have happily read lots of great stories on my Mac. I love being able to highlight and annotate my favorite passages. I love that I never lose my spot. And I really love it when I can take advantage of a free download or two.

But when it comes down to it, I’m still a huge aficionado of my hard copy books. 51wiqzjtEmL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

Take my recent trip to Anderson’s. Where else can I browse the books organized by subjects like ‘Holiday Books’ or ‘Local Authors’ and stumble upon a cool calendar and maybe a blank journal or two? Where else can I be captivated by a beautiful cover like the lovely Truth and Beauty, take a peek inside to find the writing eloquent, and think to myself, “Yup, this one’s a keeper. Just try to pry it out of my grubby little fingers.” And, though I’m a huge fan of the Look Inside feature at Amazon, sometimes I like to dive a little deeper before I make my purchase and read a particularly poignant section of dialogue, or a brilliant passage of description before I decide this one’s for me. There is hardly a time when I go in to buy a book that I don’t end up coming out with a few of its buddies as well.

Image courtesy of sanja gjenero @ Stock.xchngMuch as I love Amazon’s convenience and fast shipping, there is something about holding the physical book in my hands and desiring it that electronic versions just can’t match. A book is a treasure I can tuck next to my bed and carry in my purse, and after I read it I can pass it on to my friends. Even better, once they’ve read it, we can talk about it, gush over the love scenes, and analyze an alternate ending or two. Electronic readers make this a tricky proposition, as I understand that not all e-book readers take the same versions of the book, necessitating another purchase of the book for the other device.

My biggest insecurity about this is, now that I’m hoping to someday have a publishable story on my Image courtesy of  Evan-Amos @ Wikimedia Commonshands, does the possible extinction of physical books mean my dream of giving away signed copies of my book will die? If my story only comes out as an e-book, will I be unable to read my own work if I hold out on the e-reader? Am I chasing down the equivalent of the dodo bird as I continue my pilgrimage to one of the few remaining bookstores?

Or should I just get with the program and hope Santa brings me an iPad for Christmas this year?

Book image courtesy of sanja gjenero @ Stock.xchng, iPad image courtesy of  Evan-Amos @ Wikimedia Commons

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35 Comments
  1. December 4, 2013 9:23 am

    I think print books will still be around, although there will be fewer books put out that way. Don’t lose hope though. Holding your own book is really awesome and you will get to enjoy that one day.

    • December 5, 2013 6:14 am

      Thanks, Alex
      I’m beginning to realize that having less of something serves to make it more appreciated! I’m glad I don’t have to give up the dream of holding my own book someday. 🙂

  2. December 4, 2013 2:03 pm

    I got my Kindle Fire for Christmas last year and have read a few on it, but I’m with you…I love the look and feel of a physical book. Plus, I don’t have it down like you…have no idea how to highlight or annotate! You’ll have to give me some pointers.

    • December 5, 2013 6:18 am

      Highlighting or marking a spot is super easy on the Kindle for Mac app. Just drag the cursor over the section you want to highlight and a menu comes up on the screen below the section where you can choose whether to highlight, make a note etc. One of my hesitations about the regular Kindle has been the lack of a real place to type–although I’ve seen some pretty fast typists on an iPad!
      The Kindle Fire sounds like a really cool tablet, I have to admit. 🙂

      • December 5, 2013 6:25 am

        I love my Kindle Fire, but if I had my druthers, I’druther have the Fire HD (or the new one). I skype to my worldly friends and the regular Fire doesn’t have a camera. But I do love it.

        And I love the notification system of WordPress—how it lets me know when another WP user answers a comment. I wish everyone used it.

        Thanks for the tip!

      • December 5, 2013 6:27 am

        Oh, and DON’T get a regular Kindle. I got one (they’re great for a regular, no-frills reader, but don’t even have a lighted screen). I got a regular one first, but am too spoiled and sent it back. I like to get online at times, and a regular Kindle doesn’t do that.

  3. December 4, 2013 5:54 pm

    I use my kindle but I’m totally enamored with the actual book! Kindle helps defray costs.

    • December 5, 2013 6:20 am

      Hi Cathrina
      Welcome to A Scenic Route!
      You make a good point. Not only are the eBooks cheaper to buy, but it is also super easy to ‘borrow’ them from the library–saves me the gas it would take to drive there!

  4. December 4, 2013 6:26 pm

    I don’t own any of the devices you listed, either, and I have no desire to. To me, an e-book just isn’t quite a “real” book. I want to publish REAL books. But I know the market doesn’t agree with me and that it would be folly to fight the e-book trend, so when the time comes, I’ll paste on a smile and jump on board. That said, though, I jolly well plan to put physical books out there, too. We might be a dying breed, but there’s still some kick in us. 🙂

    • December 5, 2013 6:25 am

      Thank you, Melinda! It seems I’m good company with my preference for paper. 🙂
      There is something about the silky rustle of the pages between my fingers, not to mention freedom from batteries and chargers, that appeals to me on a very deep level. Maybe I’m letting the Muse in on this too much, but when I write, it is ultimately the physical book I’m looking to create.
      But like you, if the market demands it, I will of course offer my words in any format it prefers.

  5. December 4, 2013 8:38 pm

    At first, I was against the Kindle when my hubby bought it for me a couple years ago. Now, I love it so much, I also have a Kindle Fire and passed on my Kindle to my teen. I love that I can be reading a HUGE book and not have to carry it in my purse . . . I still buy the books of my favorite authors in paperback though 🙂

    • December 5, 2013 6:27 am

      Hi Jamie,
      I’m glad to see that there is room for both formats in our world, and I hadn’t thought about the size factor. I can see that I have some books in my collection though that are just so darn big that I haven’t started reading them because it is so hard to carry them around!

  6. December 4, 2013 11:41 pm

    There is nothing like the smell of a new book or holding it in your lap while you sit up in bed. With that said I have a Kindle Fire, a Tablet, and a laptop — with Kindle available on all three. When I take a trip or just waiting at the doctors, it is so easy to have my Kindle at hand. Thanks for reminding me of my love for good old paper :0)

    • December 5, 2013 6:30 am

      Hi Peter,
      I like the idea of having a book handy wherever I go, and you’re giving me an idea–perhaps if I carried one device that did it all: phone, music, Internet … and books. I will put it on my wish list. 🙂
      I don’t think I’ll ever be able to resist buying physical books though!

  7. December 5, 2013 10:45 am

    That dream of yours is absolutely not dead! All you need is your own book and a pen and you can make it happen. I follow many authors’ facebook pages and they’re all still at signings regularly. It’s up to you!
    My wife finally got into reading ebooks. But she still prefers physical copies, too. I like them. I like being able to reference the cool map in the front or the appendix in the back… But I can’t deny the awesomeness of having an entire library in my cell phone!!

    • December 7, 2013 10:49 am

      Hi David,
      Welcome to A Scenic Route. 🙂
      I’m hoping that when the dust settles there is room for both paper and electronic books. Both seem to have benefits and drawbacks!

  8. December 5, 2013 3:53 pm

    Hey, again we’re on the same wavelength! I love my Kindle Fire HD, but I use it for email, facebook, and Netflix. Downloading the particular authors I read is very expensive. I order used books from Amazon. Plus, you don’t get the wonderful feel of paper and the reassuring heft of a book if you go with ebooks. And, you can’t lend. Like you, I want to publish a traditional book. I don’t worry about actual paper copies going away just yet:)

    • December 7, 2013 10:54 am

      Hi Nancy,
      Yeah, I was surprised by how much some popular books cost in the electronic version–although I know this is partly because publishers price them high to keep their paper versions selling. I’m with you though, and not above buying used books, which are usually in great condition.
      I’m so glad I posted about this, because consensus seems to be that paper is still a part of the publishing paradigm.

  9. December 5, 2013 9:49 pm

    I’m a paperback reader too, and always will be. I don’t have a Kindle or any other type of e-reader and probably never will, although I can see their convenience for traveling. I adore the smell of books, the feel of the printed page, the look of the covers, and browsing in a bookstore is like a search for buried treasure. I love it! Come clean–have you secretly always wanted to run your own bookstore? I know I have!

    Here’s my little secret–the number one place I read is in the bath. So unless they make a waterproof e-reader, my loyalty to the printed form is assured.

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog this week. They meant a lot to me.

    • December 7, 2013 11:02 am

      Hi Storyteller 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by A Scenic Route!
      A bookstore would certainly be fun–and though I haven’t worked in one, my first job in high school was at the children’s library. 🙂 What a great place to work, surrounded by all those books and all those happy kids.
      I can actually see a market for waterproof e-readers, because I think about all those people who like to read on the beach, or on a boat! But I’m glad to see that there are far more printed page aficionados than I thought, and that I’m not alone in my love for paper books.

  10. December 6, 2013 9:32 am

    I resisted e-book technology for quite a while, but after giving in and getting a Kindle (mostly due to storage space issues), I’m totally won over. I do like having paper copies for classics and other special books, but to feed my voracious reading habit, I love my e-reader.

    I started out with a Kindle Keyboard, then upgraded last Christmas to a Kindle Fire. Love it! I do miss being able to move the books into folders once I’m done, but I love the ability to highlight passages with the swipe of a finger and type in notes. It makes writing reviews and proofing manuscripts a snap. When I get ready to write the review or summarize my findings, I just go to the book and pull up all my notes in one screen. (Yes, I still use Word’s TrackChanges for edits and critiques.)

    In any case, relax. I don’t think paper books are going away any time soon. 😉

    • December 7, 2013 11:13 am

      Hi Melissa,
      Wow, you are a Kindle power user! I’m pretty sure I’d be happy reading on an iPad, because the other functionality makes it more than just a reader–maybe it’s because when I have a screen in front of me I can’t help but want to type on it.
      I’m starting to think that what draws me to paper books is that freedom from having to interact with the words–meaning I can allow myself to be entertained without the potential to type in comments. I’m wondering if words on a screen beg me to change them, and words printed on paper are the final immutable story.
      Thanks for you comment! You’ve made me think about this in a new way. 🙂

  11. December 6, 2013 9:42 pm

    I’ve had a kindle now for two years, and here’s what I find. Despite the fact we go to the library once a week so the kids can pick out books, I read more and more electronically. I love that I can tote around 50 books at once and flip one out in the fifteen minutes I have waiting for someone. It’s come to the point where, after only two years, this VERY physical reader has almost completely transitioned to the other extreme. Do I still read physical books? Occasionally. Only at home, and only when my eyes need a break from the norm.

    That said, a recent survey I read about determined that even among the tech geek generation, 60% of people still prefer paper.

    • December 7, 2013 11:17 am

      Hi Crystal,
      Since I don’t own an e-reader, I do wonder whether having one handy wouldn’t make a convert out of me. The convenience seems hard to beat, and I think I would probably get more reading done if I were able to have my books with me at odd moments of my day.

      How cool that more than half of tech savvy people still prefer paper. I’m smiling at that. 🙂

  12. December 7, 2013 12:24 pm

    Aw, I know exactly how you feel. With the availability of ebooks and amazon direct publishing, our publishing dreams are more easily attainable and more readers can access them. Yet paper dreams still abound for we writers, because nothing is going to replace that feel of a paperback or hardcover resting in our hands. 🙂 or the way they look when they are sitting on a book shelf.

    It feels like a catch 22, but I truly think that hardcopy stories will always be around. So, not to worry dear. Keep on dreaming of the day when you can give away signed copies to your readers.

    • December 8, 2013 11:09 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Sara. 🙂
      I love that eBooks have made publishing more accessible to smaller niches. But I’m also glad I’m not alone in my dream of holding the physical manifestation of my hard work. As long as there is the desire, I hope there will be ways to fulfill that.

  13. December 9, 2013 8:42 am

    Ask for an iPad and have hard cover books 🙂 Signed copies will always be valuable. I can’t imagine living without my kindle – okay exaggeration there – but I do like it. I still read paper books, but my kindle is always by my side.

    • December 9, 2013 6:55 pm

      I think we’re very lucky to live in a time when we have access to both formats. I just worry that physical books might become extinct someday! Judging from the passionate responses I’ve gotten, I can see that my worries are unfounded. 🙂
      I’m putting that iPad on my wish list!

  14. December 31, 2013 3:26 pm

    I’m more of a hardcover book kind of girl. The Kindle never had much appeal to me because I’ve always liked a physical book in my hands to read.

    • January 2, 2014 8:45 pm

      Oh yes, give me a hardcover over the paperback anytime! Having one’s book available in hardcover must be the pinnacle of writerly nirvana. 🙂

  15. January 1, 2014 7:52 am

    I’ve always preferred physical books, and I think I always will, so I doubt there’s much chance of the book going extinct!

    I’ve downloaded a few classics and a few books from SmashWords for the e-reader apps on my phone, but I just love the feel of physical books.

    • January 2, 2014 8:52 pm

      Hi David,
      Welcome to A Scenic Route. 🙂
      I read both physical and eBooks, though I find myself reaching for my physical books more often than the electronic ones. However that could be because I read on my computer, which is not the most soothing screen experience.
      One thing I’m noticing with my eBooks is the overwhelming compulsion to mark up the typos and punctuation errors! I don’t know if it’s because there tend to be more of them in the eBooks I read, or if it’s because my eye sees them more readily since I write on my computer. 🙂

  16. January 7, 2014 8:07 am

    Hi Kirsten, I do hope you are staying warm. I don’t own a Kindle or e-reader either (except the free app, of course). I love the feel of a real book and keep a book at work at all times, along with my home-reads. Part of why I don’t have an e-reader is just to keep books alive.

    • January 7, 2014 4:31 pm

      🙂 I’m so happy to see that there are others like me out there!
      Maybe someday I’ll own an iPad that will change my mind, but right now, reading on my laptop isn’t quite the same as curling up with a book in my hands.

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