How I Use Ebooks Differently

I found this quote while flipping through an older book, in a section on electronic publishing:

“…Will [electronic publishing] ever be more than an intriguing fringe for a literary avant garde and those who just can’t make it in traditional publishing?”

Well, ouch. Electronic publishing only for techie elitists and inferior writers? The author went on to explain that ebooks (“even the term book begins to become an anachronism here”) were absolutely not released in conjunction with paperbacks or hardbacks.

“E-publishing does not offer an electronic version of a book that is simultaneously being produced in print (e.g, by making an edition available for a handheld e-reader).”

Third generation Amazon Kindle, showing text f...
Third generation Amazon Kindle, showing text from the novel Moby-Dick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, how time has proven such predictions wrong. Ebooks are now a major market, and not only are they considered a valid release just as a paperback might accompany a hardcover, they are respected and counted properly as real sales.

There’s a lot of grumpiness out there about ebooks and physical books, like there’s some sort of competition or hierarchy among them. This is silly; who argues whether “real” readers prefer paperbacks or hardbacks? But ebooks are a bit different, and I use them differently.

I prefer print books — “p-books,” I’ve heard them called now — for some cases and ebooks for others. Research? I was brought up not to deface books, so if I want to highlight or annotate, I want an ebook. All the notes, none of the damage. But paper books can be easier to read in some conditions (I don’t have a Kindle, only a free Kindle app on my phone and tablet and laptop).

When I’m reading bound manga, which has been reduced from its original size for printing and sales in the US, my pathetic eyes can get tired pretty quickly. Paper manga may have less glare, but digital manga zooms in at the pinch of a finger to get that background dialogue or sound effect I can’t quite squint out in the paperback.

And I won’t lie — many titles (certainly not all) generate greater royalties from ebook sales than print sales. If you want to buy an ebook instead of a print book, that’s okay by me, and I can still even Authorgraph it for you.

I see chatter about building an ebook differently, too, but while I included clickable hyperlinks to outside resources in Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out, I haven’t thought of many other ways to take advantage of the digital abilities of an ebook. I’d love to hear your ideas!

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  1. LOL and I was raised writing all kinds of notes in books when I’m researching, so I prefer ebooks for fiction and print books for research!

    Also did you realize that book at the end of the post was written by one of Lew’s descendants? :)

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