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The eBook Dilemma

Untitled-3The Husband suggested that for Christmas I might like an eBook reader, he having crossed to the dark side some time back, but I have absolutely no desire to read on a digital device. (Mind you I got some truly excellent gifts this year like real BOOKS!) Many of my colleagues have eReaders, but apparently I am not alone in holding out, much to the annoyance of eBook evangelists like Mike Shatzkin in the US. He writes:

One distracting fact for analysts considering this question has been the apparent slowdown in the growth of eBook sales, suggesting that there are persistent print readers who just won’t make the switch.

Statistically, eBook sales have not grown as much as the experts have been predicting. I, for one, am not at all surprised by that. Like every new technology there are great benefits but there are also many drawbacks. My own personal debate regarding eBooks and reading is often fraught as I can see the benefits of having so many books at the ready but I have to say that on a purely spiritual level I just don’t relate to a machine — words and passion and adventure and suspense conveyed on paper gives me highs that a screen simply can’t compete with.

Now I know that sounds slightly weird, given I am permanently attached to my iPhone, iPad or laptop — and often all at once — but perhaps that’s the crux of it for me! Reading on a device for me has perhaps become intimately linked with the feeling of working rather than with the feeling of recreation, leisure and escapism that a tangible physical book inspires in me. Evidently I am not alone in that feeling.

Some five years ago when we at Exisle started converting our books to eBooks, we did it because I feared that we would otherwise be left behind. ‘Experts’ were predicting the total demise of publishing as we knew it; everyone would be reading eBooks. So we took a big breath, looked at it logically and worked out exactly what we, Exisle, wanted. And what we wanted was to still publish books, and eBooks would just be another part of the business — an essential part, but not the whole part.

We were not alone in this thinking as most publishers came to grips with eBooks, incorporated them into their business model and worked out how best to sell books profitably and still acknowledge the importance of eBooks. There are some publishers that only do eBooks, and good on them, but one of the joys for me is when that parcel arrives with a new book fresh from the printers — what a high that can be!

It will be interesting to see where we are in five years’ time. My bet is that the situation probably won’t be much different unless of course someone, and I dare say they will, creates an eReader that enables you to ‘turn the page’. Think hologram, 3D technology — well, anything is possible! I still have to say though that smelling a book, feeling the paper, perhaps writing a little note somewhere, is a precious gift that I hold very dear. I rather like the fact that I am one of those ‘persistent print readers who just won’t make the switch’.

Happy New Year to you all!


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One Response to "The eBook Dilemma"

  1. Great post! I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing can replace the experience of holding a book in your hands. Call me old-fashioned but nothing beats the sound that a book makes when you open it, or smell the pages of a feshly printed book. The printed word is meant for your hand to touch.

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