For as marvelous as ebooks are and discounting the fact that I make a living writing them, there’s a big reason I hate them too. Here’s why…
I love ebooks. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to love.
There is something to be said for being able to carry 500+ books around in my backpack in the form of a Kindle that weighs less than a magazine. That’s beside the fact that I write books for a living and ebooks account for 99.5% of my sales. That alone would be reason enough to love them.
However, for all the many reasons there are to love ebooks, there’s still a part of me that hates them.
Allow me to demonstrate.
This is my paperback copy of Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey. I picked it up a used book sale when I was in high school…so it’s old. Really old. It’s ratty and torn, a lot of the edges are ripped. Its pages have been chewed on by bugs over the years. Even so, I’ve read it probably a hundred times.
I love the book and it shows. It looks like it has seen more than its fair share of battles, but every crease and tear, every borehole and dogeared page, is a mark of love. When you open it up, there’s a musk of old ink and paper that’s like a lover’s perfume. Heady and intoxicating.
That’s what I hate about ebooks. Not that they aren’t real, or that the people, like myself, who specialize in them aren’t proper authors…but that they don’t have the physical presence of a paper book. Unless something remarkable happens in the near future, they don’t have that smell that only comes from a lifetime spent in loving hands.
They don’t show the scars of how often they’ve been read and enjoyed. You’ll never see a battered old ebook and wonder who has held it, who has loved it, and what they were going through when they read it. Did they turn to its yellowed pages in times of pain for comfort and solace? Was it just a story to while away the time? Was it a familiar place with familiar friends that felt warm and welcoming regardless of the fact that it was just a work of fiction?
That makes me a bit sad…and no matter how much I love ebooks, there will always be a part of me that hates the reality all the same.
That’s why I make a paperback for each ebook I write. Sometimes, you just want to feel the texture of the paper on your fingertips as you get ready to cross over into a land of make believe.