(Forgive me Mr. Shakespeare, especially since I’m not asking the question.)
I want to share links to two articles by Julie Bosman that appeared in the New York Times (August 12, 2010). First, the writer Pete Hamill has announced that he’s bypassing paper for the publication of his next novel and taking his book straight to digital. You can read the article by going to:
In the Business section of the same paper, Ms. Bosman reports on the increase in E-book sales being reported by all the major book outlets. She states that some worry large bookstores may decline, as did record stores after music went digital. Read the article at:
My contract with Blank Slate Press includes the option of taking my novel to the electronic format. As a writer, I want my book to reach as many readers as possible. So if my readers want an E-book or an audio book, I’ll certainly oblige. And we haven’t even talked about my plans to reach the people who prefer their stories on film. (Are you reading this Jason Reitman?)
I don’t own an E-reader, nor do I have plans to buy one. Many of my friends use them, and I certainly understand their appeal. In the end it’s a question of personal choice. I choose the tactile experience of the book—the more beautiful the better. And a leather jacket on a plastic E-reader will ever come close.
I’m a reader, not a collector; but I’ve walked away from books that are badly done (read: acidic paper, muddy type, dreadful margins that squeeze the content of each page). I’ve also taken classes in bookbinding from the artist, Joanne Kluba at her Paperbirds Studio (www.paperbirds.com). If you’ve never made a book by hand, I recommend it. As with most art forms, it can be humbling to take something from imagination to the real world. Even so, after making books under the guidance of a real artist like Ms. Kluba, I’ve come away with an entirely new appreciation for the craft.
Hundreds of years ago, when all books were made by hand, the materials were considered so precious that books were literally scraped clean so that new texts could be written on the same pages. That practice makes me as anxious as the idea of loading up an E-reader with hundreds of titles, only to have the technology change, making my collection no longer accessible. Anyone who thinks this is ridiculous obviously never used early word processors, computer programs, floppy disks or zip disks.
E-books are here and their influence is growing. But, (as Mr. Hamill observed) how will an E-book allow for a book signing?