Where do you stand on the great “print book or ebook” debate?
If you had asked me this about 5 years ago I would have told you without a shadow of a doubt that print books were the only option for me and that an ebook would never cross my path. I had tried the Kindle reading app on my laptop and it was a horrible reading experience and I couldn’t get much further than the first chapter or so of any book I loaded up.
But then I was given a Kindle Fire as a Mother’s Day gift and I have never looked back. The switch from page to screen was seamless for me and I enjoyed reading as much on the screen as I did from the page – more so in fact, because there was never that constant worry about holding it just right so the spine didn’t break or that uncomfortable shifting position every odd/even page when half lying down in bed reading before sleep.
I enjoyed the cheaper cost of buying them too – instead of the £18.99 for a hardback version of a book fresh off the press I had been paying way back in the past, or the £5.99 for a paperback on the second print run, I was now able to pay 99p, or £2.50 for a decent book from Amazon to fill up my digital library. The top 100 freebies that Amazon offered were also a great source of fun for me. I have found more than a couple of golden nuggets from new writers in the free pile and have enjoyed more books than I was able to enjoy before purely and simply because they were very inexpensive (cheap) or cost me nothing at all. I also found that I was reading a lot more than before (which is no mean feat, I can tell you!) and reading a wider range of stuff too, which has opened my eyes to a lot of stories I wouldn’t have thought of reading before.
Over time, there have been a few niggles creeping in that have turned into outright annoyances with ebooks, such as the fact that where I would read a paperback and give it to my Dad to read, who would then pass it on to his friend who would then pass it on to…you get the idea. Ebooks are all well and good, but they aren’t for sharing really, are they? Even with a family account with Amazon I can only share books with Kevin, but I can’t share them with my daughter Emma, even though we have more of a crossover interest in books than I do with him. My Dad doesn’t want a Kindle (or any other reading device come to that – he says that you never have to charge a paper book and it’s always ready to read) and so our days of sharing books seem a distant memory from the past.
Another thing is that where Kindle versions of popular books worked out at about a third of the cost of paperbacks, the price has been steadily creeping up and up, and about a year ago they got to be about the same price. I am talking about the ‘big’ sellers such as the Tess Gerritsens, the Mark Billinghams, the Mo Hayders etc rather than the copies of the classics which have been digitised from print plates and so on. What is the point in paying the same price for a digital copy of a book that only I can read rather than buying a paper copy, with all the printing, production and delivery costs involved which I can freely give to anybody else I like? But that’s not all – not only has the price of digital books increased to be on a par with paperbacks, they are now costing MORE than paperbacks and in some cases are almost as expensive as the hardback versions of books.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
And another, which is just as bad:
Why?? I don’t understand it.
There was an article in the Guardian newspaper a few months ago reporting the fact that sales of ebooks has dropped significantly and sales of printed books are rising again. You can read the full story here, but it basically talks about the pros and cons of reading from a screen vs reading from the page, pretty much as I did but it doesn’t address the issue of cost.
Perhaps the sales of ebooks have dropped because publishers and/or Amazon have got greedy? I have no problem in paying writers what they are worth when it comes to sales of books, but surely it is better to be able to sell a book digitally with next to no production costs (and being kinder to the environment too) and all the money going to the writer rather than them only getting a percentage of the proceeds from printed books? I personally can’t afford to buy books at the price they are now at the rate I was able to when they were cheap or free, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.
It’s back to the library for me, with their unwieldy jackets and broken spines of yesteryear, not to mention the uncomfortable night-time reading again with them propped up at weird angles trying to catch the light.
Where do you stand? Are you a “print books all the way!” type of person, or do you prefer digital books? Have you noticed a price difference in digital books recently and has it put you off buying a book because of it? Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you make of it. I’d love to hear from you.