As a writer, I've watched the growth of eBooks and eReaders with great interest. I've even wondered if the publishing market will change so much by the time I get a book ready to publish that I'll never actually hold my book in my hands. However, a few things recently have made me think print books are going to stay around.
The first is my own experience with eReaders. Our library lends out eReaders, so my husband and I both put ourselves on the waitlist—160th or so in line. The first eReader arrived a few months ago, when I was in the middle of classes. I read a quarter of The Help before deciding I didn't have time to read right then. The second eReader arrived just a few weeks ago, when I was finished classes, so I was able to read Emma Donoghue's novel Room in a couple of days. While I loved the book, I hated the eReader.
My biggest complaint is the delays with the eReader. It took two minutes to turn on (I timed it). It took a few seconds to flip the page each time. Sometimes the page didn't flip and I'd have to push the button again. Sometimes I thought the page wasn't flipping so I pushed the button again, and then it flipped two pages.
One evening, my husband was finishing something on the computer before we watched a movie together. Usually, I would have grabbed my book to read while waiting—but when I thought about waiting for the thing to turn on, I just sat twiddling my thumbs until he was done, because by the time I got the eReader turned on, I would have been turning it off again.
On April 18th, best-selling Christian suspense author Ted Dekker put a poll on his Facebook page. He asked, "I'm planning new tales that I want to tell you in the near future. Tell me, how do you prefer to read my stories? The power is in your hands." The votes? eReader (like a Kindle, Nook, or iPad) took 610; print book took 1783. About a quarter of the poll respondents wanted eBooks; the other three-quarters still prefer print books.
On the book review websites I frequent, I see the same trends. Booksneeze offers both eBooks and print books to its reviewers, but for the last two books that I've reviewed, I waited up to request the book as soon as it was released to ensure I received a print copy. There are always lots of eBooks available on the site, and only a few print books, even though Booksneeze says they release the same number of eBooks and print books. I saw the same preference for print books over eBooks on another book review site, and book reviewers read a LOT of books.
I have friends who rave about their eReaders and honestly, I like the idea. My husband and I have always had more books than bookshelves (much to the chagrin of our friends and family who have helped us move those books). When we go away on trips, we take a large book bag with us. An eReader would make that so much simpler. But it just seems too technical. I can read a book faster than I can read an eBook—and I don't have to figure out how to turn on a book.
My conclusion? I think eBooks and print books will happily co-exist, just as paperbacks and hardcovers do. There will be people who prefer one or the other, and people who read both, but I don't think the print book is going to disappear.
What do you think? Do you prefer eBooks or print books? Have you tried eReaders?