A couple of things all happened at once:
- I read this article about how much publishers charge libraries for e-books. Let’s just say it’s upsetting.
- I read a paperback for the first time in weeks after all ARCs on my phone, all the time. (It was a Theresa Romain novel and it was DELIGHTFUL.)
- I also read, more slowly, How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell. Because I do, occasionally, read things that are not smut, thank you very much.
- I wanted to revisit a book that I had already read, that I swore that I had purchased an e-copy of, only to discover that it had vanished without a trace from my kindle.
Look, e-books are extremely convenient. I love being able to choose from a selection of books when I find myself waiting at the doctor’s office or when I’m getting an oil change. (As long as I’ve remembered to actually download them…which is not always a given.) Packing my kindle when I’m going on a trip is much easier than packing 8 paperbacks and 2 hardbacks and then reading none of them. When I have midnight insomnia, it’s nice to be able to read without turning on a light. And it’s way easier to annotate e-books—or rather, it’s way easier to actually go back and *find* my annotations if I’m writing a book up. And the bonus feature of easily being able to search how many times the author uses the word “turgid” is always fun.
But there is something about reading a book on paper that really works for me.
I love the physicality of books. I like the way they feel in my hands. I like turning pages and finding a bookmark when I want to set the book down.
I love the focus I can bring to physical books. It’s so much easier to click away and get sucked into something else when I’m reading on a device. With a physical book, I can tune out distractions and immerse myself more fully in the story.
I love being able to share books. This is the biggest thing for me. When I read a book I love, the first thing I do is encourage someone else to read it. And the easiest way for me to do that? Give them my copy of the book. When I read a book that was pretty good but that I didn’t love? I give it away, so someone else can enjoy it. And when I read a book that really wasn’t for me? Well, someone else might like it. Truly, the Little Free Library is a gift that keeps on giving.
And you can’t share ebooks. (I mean, I’m sure there are ways to pirate ebooks, but I don’t encourage them.) As evidenced by the case of the mysterious disappearing books, I don’t even fully have ownership over the ebooks I do have. I can’t lend them or give them away when I’m finished.
Do I read mostly on my kindle these days? Admittedly yes. But paperbacks will always have a place in my heart. And if you want something to read, let me know—I probably have something I can send you.
5 thoughts on “Give me paperbacks or give me death”
I was a Kindle enthusiast for years, but I now only read paper b/c my focus is better and I love them. I think the book as object is an important cultural symbol and I don’t want to ever lose it, so buy books, or borrow them from a library, but read paper! I’m a paper-zealot. (I only have ARCs on the Kindle, which I don’t review anymore anyway, so when the Kindle dies, I won’t be buying a new one.)
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I completely agree about the book as cultural symbol! Paper zealots unite! I do find that I especially have to read on paper if it’s a denser book. I recently started working through Laura Kinsale’s books, and there’s no way I could read them on a screen. Ditto murder mysteries, but that’s because I like to read the last page when I’m about a quarter of the way into the book (I don’t know why! I’m secretly a chaos demon!), and that is very inconvenient to do with an ebook.
But I do find the kindle really convenient for travel and middle-of-the-night reading. Since I’ve started being on Twitter, I do find that I acquire a lot of books on my kindle, because it’s so easy to see the flash sales. Not sure if that’s a good thing…
As for the sales, I’ve learned to ignore them: too many romances in the TBR I will ever read, which is why my Kindle will forever be laden with unread romance. I’ve moved to ordering romance in paper b/c then I’m really committed and interested in reading this particular title. Rather than accumulating titles for the sale’s sake! It really has curtailed my romance spending.
I think the demise of mass-market is killing the genre, in all honesty, categories are so hard to find in paper as well. And this diminishes the genre, makes it more disposable and results in authors producing more content and yet producing less quality. You won’t see the likes of Kinsale, for example, or a truly great romance writer like Cecilia Grant, being published and that is disservice to the genre. It’s leaving it to be completely market-driven rather than a nice hybrid of pop and literature, which is where I hoped it would go. (Sadly, also why I’ve pretty much stopped reading it.)
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The dopamine hit is hard to resist, but I probably should start ignoring the sales as well, though to be fair, I have just as many unread paperbacks as I do ebooks (I am blessed to live in a neighborhood with a lot of Little Free Libraries, which means I am always finding some new romance to read and why not take it because it’s free!)
I am perhaps less pessimistic about the state of the genre than you are—publishing has always been about capitalism, and I am still finding pockets of great romance, though sometimes the abundance of choice makes it harder.
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