This topic has been on my mind lately, as I have read lots of articles and blogs about e-books and changes in traditional publishing. Some of these writers have been all doom and gloom, predicting the end of authors’ livelihoods, printed books and possibly the world as we know it.
In my own very unscientific study of one person (me) I’ve noticed my reading habits changing. I was given an Android tablet as a birthday present two years ago by my spunky husband. As an avid reader, he thought I’d enjoy being able to download and read books on the device.
It actually took me a while to get going. Although I know a few bits and bobs about websites and had also been a fan of online shopping for a few years, I found I had a bit to learn. Where to buy e-books, how to download them, what viewers or software I needed and how to view them best using my tablet. But since then, I’ve become something of an e-book addict.
It might be fitting to describe my relationship or love affair with e-books in terms of a marriage contract. Stick with me, this is going somewhere (I promise).
So, without further ado, here’s my list of the ten ways e-books have changed my relationship with reading:
1. Love. I love reading and read more books than ever before.
I’ve always loved books and reading. This hasn’t changed. Instead of buying a new paperback novel roughly once a week, I now buy several e-books a week. I don’t always have time to read all the books I’d like to, but that’s another story. So I’d estimate the total number of books I read has doubled, from approximately 50 to 100 in a year.
2. Honour. I now interact with authors who I admire and browse more books.
In this brave new world of social media and interactive forums, I’ve made contact with many authors. I love to honour the work and imagination of authors who I admire and let them know how much I enjoy their work.
Being a mother of young children and also working, I have limited time to wander through physical bookshops. Instead, I’ve discovered the pleasure to be had wandering through virtual bookstores, reading reviews and creating an online to be read (TBR) list. I often find the books I’ve enjoyed reading and then look-up an author’s complete backlist. This is much easier to do online than in a traditional bookshop. Also, I can browse anytime of the day or night.
3. Obey. Rather, I will NOT obey old-fashioned book reviewers.
I regularly read online reviews and recommendations, often by fellow readers. But I will not blindly obey whatever a professional book reviewer recommends I read. Book reviews in the past were always a bit hit and miss for me. I always found reviewers in the big newspapers could be relied on to elicit a groan. Did every book I read really need to be viewed as a potential literary classic or change my life? Could I not just read something light-hearted and entertaining? I noticed that a lot of the books I enjoyed most would not even rate a lot of reviews. Romance, science fiction, comedy, apparently these were not worthy of reviewers’ time.
The rise of independent book bloggers and humble readers like myself, willing to express their own opinions via the internet has changed all that. Not everyone likes this, but I do. I think there is room for many different voices in book reviewing and different ways to appreciate books. Fan-girling included.
4. To have and to hold. Do I need a physical book to hold?
I love books. I mean, as objects. I have two large bookshelves full of them and would probably buy more if I could physically store them. I love looking at book covers and flipping through the pages. But especially for new books or authors, I find e-books a great way to read. They are also fantastic for holidays or commuting. I can load up five e-books on my tablet without adding extra weight to my handbag or suitcase. Books I love and want to keep forever? Sure, I’ll buy a hardcopy too.
5. For richer or poorer. What price e-book happiness?
I now sample more books from new authors or those I’ve never read. This is partly a price consideration. I was always reluctant to spend $20 to $30 on a new hardcover or paperback book from an author who I’d never read, let alone buy a series. But when the price is lower, say between 99 cents and $8, I’m much more willing to give something new a try.
6. In sickness. Even if I’m feeling too busy or exhausted to read a book, I’ll pick up an e-book.
I’m not sure why this is true. Maybe when I’m tired I feel too daunted to pick-up a ‘fat’ book and start reading. An e-book seems more accessible sometimes. Also, I now read shorter, more contained books or books in series. Sometimes I do feel a bit of eye strain from too much screen-time, so shorter e-books are becoming my preference.
7. In health. Is it a good book? Did it make me smile or cry?
A healthy book to me, is one that leaves me feeling. All the feels. Smiles, laughter, tears or just phew, that was smokin’ hot! I post reviews and ratings of the books I’ve read and enjoyed or simply share the links on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want to be indifferent to a book.
8. As long as we both shall live? Maybe until we separate.
These days, I am less likely to keep reading a book that hasn’t grabbed me from the beginning, or with characters I dislike.
I also make quicker decisions about books I might buy, maybe based on online recommendations. Then I often click-through to an e-book store to check the full details. There is an immediacy about e-book buying that makes it a bit of a spur of the moment decision.
9. I now pronounce you e-book and reader. Maybe a reader with multiple paramours.
I usually have a selection of e-books ready to go, then pick and choose which one to dive in to, depending on my mood. It may be a committed, long-term relationship, a brief affair, or I have been known to share the love around by dipping in and out of several e-books at a time.
10. You may now kiss your e-book. Or not.
I don’t get up close and personal with my books or read e-books in the bath! This probably applies to romance books more than others, but I’m not going there.
As I said, this is all very unscientific, top of mind stuff. Call me a rebel, but that’s just the way I roll. But I’d love to hear what other readers and writers think. Have e-books changed the way you read and was it for better or worse?