The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Are Ebooks the way of the Future?: Guest Hijacker Clare Dugmore

           Since I'm busy in Orlando, Florida today, I'm going to let today's guest Clare Dugmore just jump in and take over!

       First of all, I'd like to say a huge thank you to Arlee for having me on his blog. I'm sure myself, and anyone else who has hijacked the blog, appreciates the opportunity to reach so many people on such a large platform. Thanks, Arlee!

       I thought long and hard about what I was going to post about today, as there are many topics I could have discussed. I seriously considered using today's post as self-promotion, and sharing an excerpt from my current work in progress Sibylline Nights. I ultimately decided against it, figuring if you want to know more about me, my writing and my novel, you can check out my blog.

       Instead, I wanted to discuss a topic that would generate some debate and get everyone talking. But what topic to pick? The pros and cons of self-publication versus traditional publication? My personal feeling about Fifty Shades of Grey, and its impact on literature and the publishing industry?

      In the end I settled on a subject that has been on my mind for the last few months, ever since a discussion with my brother-in-law, and something I've been wanting to talk about for a while now.

Are Ebooks the way of the Future?

       A few months ago, when I was in the market to buy an e-reader, I asked around my fellow readers and book lovers to get their opinions on digital reading.

      While a lot of people said it was good that you could store so many books on an e-reader, the overwhelming response was that nothing will ever beat the feel of paper books. Then I bought my e-reader.

       I don't think I'll ever buy a paper book again! The only thing I miss about paper books is being able to read in the bath.

       Maybe I'm just more digitally minded (I also don't keep 'hard' copies of photographs, all my memories are digitally stored on my external harddrive), but for me, e-readers tick every box, and have opened my eyes to new avenues of reading I've never considered before.

       The first time I experienced digital books triumphing over paper books was on May 24th of this year. I was eagerly waiting the final installment in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, The Enchantress. I was especially excited, because for the first time in the series' history, the UK release date was just two days after the US release date – as opposed to previous years, when the UK release date was around two months after the US date – meaning that I could read along at the same time as a friend in America, whom I'd shared the series with. We both enjoyed discussing aspects of the book, and it was always frustrating to have to wait two months before I could share her joys and woes over what had happened.

      On the morning of  May 24th I went to my local shopping centre – and let me tell you, it's no tiny town square with a handful of shops. It's home to over 250 shops, a cinema, a food hall including  various fast food restaurants, and has a parking capacity of 10,000 spaces – and straight to Waterstones (a UK book retailer that has 296 stores and employs around 4,500 staff in the UK and Europe).

      After looking in the Young Adult section, the children's section, the fantasy section and the general fiction section, I went up to the cash desk.

      "Do you have The Enchantress by Michael Scott, please?" I asked the member of staff.

      After looking up the details on the computer, she informed me that no, they didn't.

      I was disappointed, but not disheartened. Determined to get my book, I made my way to WH Smiths (one of UK's largest retailers of books, stationery, magazines, newspapers, and entertainment products, who invented the ISBN catalogue and has over 16, 000 employees in Europe). Once again I was politely told they didn't have it.

      My disappointment growing, I checked in both ASDA and Sainsbury's (UK supermarket chains, with 525 and 1000 stores respectively), but neither had the book.

      I was shocked.

     I knew The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series wasn't a global sensation like Harry Potter, but I thought since the series has been printed in 20 languages, is available in 37 countries, and featured in the Top Ten on the New York Times Children's Best Selling Series list, that a shopping centre the size of the one I was at, with two large book retail chains and two supermarket chains, would have somewhere for me to buy The Enchantress.

      Feeling let down, I made my way home, and that's when the alternative hit me. I could buy the book online – perhaps if I was really lucky, it would even be delivered before the weekend.

      While comparing prices on Amazon and Play, I noticed that Amazon offered a digital version of  The Enchantress, and it was cheaper than the paper version. The added bonus, it would be delivered to my tablet computer instantly. I was sold. Never again would I need to worry about different release dates, not being able to get to the shopping centre, books being out of stock, or dodgy delivery times.

      I could have any book I wanted, whenever I wanted, with just a few taps of my stylus.

      I downloaded The Enchantress to my tablet, enjoyed it immensely, and that's when I started to discover all the other fantastic benefits of digital books.

     While reading, I came across the word chitin – I'd never heard of it before, and curious I highlighted the word, intending to copy it into my web browser. As I copied it, something amazing happened. Up popped a little bubble entitled New Oxford American Dictionary, and gave me the following definition: chi·tin n. [BIOCHEMISTRY] a fibrous substance consisting of polysaccharides and forming the major constituent in the exoskeleton of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi. chi·tin·ous adj. mid 19th cent.: from French chitine, formed irregularly from Greek (see CHITON).

      I was in awe. Rather than having to open up my browser, or log onto a computer, with the inbuilt features of my Kindle application, my tablet could give me the definition of a word as I read the story.

      Later on, I was introduced to the character Xolotl. Interested in the mythology behind the name, I highlighted it. Sadly this time my dictionary had no definition. But, after clicking on the "more" option, I was able to open my browser – from within the Kindle app – and go straight to Wikipedia, where I discovered that in Aztec mythology, Xolotl was the god with associations to both lightning and death.

      Information about character mythology at the tip of my fingers. Never again would I have to be pulled out of a story to look up some details, or try and remember a name once I'd finished the book.

        Having a toddler, I found many other advantages of digital books. I could read without him ripping, chewing or turning the pages, and with an added screen protector, it's was safe from sticky fingers.

        I could also "close" my book with a moment's notice, and not have to worry about losing bookmarks, or them falling out and my page being lost. For you see, digital books have inbuilt bookmarks, and with a tap of my stylus, a page could be "bookmarked" so I could pick up where I left off. Even more impressively, you can have multiple bookmarks, so I could remember pages with passages or parts that interested me, and share them with my friend who was also reading the book.

       The back-lighting on my tablet also meant I could read in bed, in the dark, without the need for a lamp – something I'm sure whoever shares the bed with you would appreciate if they're trying to sleep while you read.

       I've found since having the Kindle app, I'm reading more books, because digital books feel more accessible to me. I certainly can't go to the book store in the middle of the night when I have insomnia, or walk around Waterstones in my pyjamas. I can, however, browse the Kindle marketplace both at 2 a.m in the nude if I choose.

      Not only that, if a book looks interesting but I haven't quite made up my mind about it, I can scroll down the page, and read reviews by others who have read the book. I can even download a sample of the book (how much of a sample varies from author to author) free of charge.

      The variety of digital books compared to paper books seems a lot more too, as many independent authors are self-publishing exclusively as e-books. Some are even free, or cost less than £1. While people may argue the quality of an e-book that costs nothing, I won't. I'm not going to gripe over a few typos if I didn't pay for it, and the story keeps me entertained for the weekend.

      There's physical storage advantages to digital books too. I live in an apartment, with very limited space and two children who have a lot of toys. My beloved books now take priority behind buggies, racetracks, play-sets, action figures and countless other things. My current bookshelf is very pressed for space, with books stacked on top of each other, and squeezed in where ever possible. Not to mention the countless tomes I have stored away in cardboard boxes and cupboard boxes. With digital books, your only limit is your memory card, and with external cards and harddrives, that amount can be increased at any time.  Plus you don't have to worry about damage from dust, damp or booklouse who look to burrow into you books, and eat it from the inside! With digital books, if you're unlucky enough to loose or damage your memory card, you can just download a book again. Once you've bought it from Amazon, it's yours for life.

     It makes travelling with books easier too. I currently have a Kindle app on my desktop computer, my laptop, and my tablet. If I wanted to, I could also install the Kindle app on a computer at a friend or relatives' house, and access my library there. I can take my whole book collection with me, where ever I go.

     People have said digital books "ruin" the experience of reading, but for me their invention has actually heightened it.

     Before I end this post, and open it up to others, I wanted to mention one digital book very close to my heart.

      On August 6th 2012 a very close friend of mine, Kyra Lennon, is releasing her début novel, a contemporary romance titled Game On. Without the invention of digital books, she might not be releasing her story now, as she'd be going through the process of querying, getting an agent and then submissions for publishers (I'm not going to argue the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing now. That's another post for another time). Suffice to say, Kyra weighed the options, and wanted complete creative control over her novel, something digital books offered her.



If you're interested, here is the synopsis for Game On:

After swapping her small town life to work for a top U.S soccer team, Leah Walker thought she could finally leave the ghosts of her past behind. However, when she meets serial womanizer, Radleigh McCoy, the memories of her old life come swarming back, and she is forced to ask herself whether she has really changed at all.

Details of the forthcoming blog tour can be found here.

       And that's me done. Thank you again to Arlee for having me, and thank you to everyone who has stuck with me for the whole post. I hope it generates some interesting debate, or at least makes you think a little harder about digital books, and what they mean for the future of publishing.

**

About Clare Dugmore:

I'm an almost thirty aspiring writing from the West Midlands of England. I live with my husband and two sons. My current work in progress, which is in the first round of edits, is a contemporary fantasy: Separated at birth, triplets Esmee, Maggie and Nola are reunited by their new magical abilities. Even with the Paraphysiology Intelligence Division hunting them, they choose to oppose magical terrorists intent on eradicating those without abilities.

For about me, my writing and my novel, you can check out my blog.




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33 comments:

  1. Since writing this piece, Kyra Lennon has released Game On ahead of the scheduled date, you can find details of where to by Game On here.

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  2. What a fantastic post! I wholeheartedly agree with you about digital books. It's not that I don't like print books anymore, it's just that ebooks are so easy to get hold of. I love when I see one of my blogger friends saying they've released a book and I can just click onto Amazon to get it without having to wait.

    Thank you so much for the mention!! Game On sure wouldn't be out yet if I had to go through the querying process! <3

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  3. Nice post. You pretty much nailed all the advantages of ebooks and dedicated e-readers. I have a Kindle 3 and a library of 200+ books just waiting to be read. :D

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  4. I don't own a Kindle and wouldn't rush to buy one - not to say I'd reject it if someone treated me, though!

    I can see they have their uses, especially when travelling, but I'm a dyed-in-the-wool book lover - I prefer to feel the pages in my hand.

    One of my previous negatives about Kindles/e-readers was the thought that loss or damage would see your whole 'library' lost - interesting to hear that this would not necessarily be the case.

    Still not fully convinced, though.
    (unless Santa want's to change my mind!)

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  5. Great post Clare, honestly I love paper and always try to avoid audio books at all costs but that's just my preference because I guess I don't want to go away from the traditional book. My mother's the opposite though and prefers audio books now and it does cause some arguing in my house but it's not a big deal haha, everybody has their own preferences after all, thought provoking take on a very relevant topic as well.

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  6. Thanks for standing in for Arlee, a great post Clare.
    Personally I am not into ebooks my friends have them but I haven't yet beeen tempted.

    Yvonne.

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  7. Ever since I purchased my first iPad, I've been sold on eBooks. I've only purchased one print book in the past two years.

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  8. Kyra – Those reasons are exactly why I love ebooks. The ease and accessibility has totally won me over. And of course, many indy authors are publishing exclusively as ebooks. You're most welcome for the mention, a post about ebooks wouldn't be right without talking about Game On. <3

    Michael - Thank you for your comment, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. 200+ ebooks, that's quite the collection; I'm impressed. :)

    Sue H - Thanks for taking the time to comment on the post. That's how I originally felt, until I found an affordable tablet computer. If you ever get the opportunity to try ebooks, I would. Lets hope Santa treats you. ;)

    YeamieWaffles – Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you found the post a thought provoking take on a very relevant topic as well. A lot of people prefer the feel of paper books, and I have nothing against that, but for me the advantages of digital win out. Each to their own, and all that. :)

    welcome to my world of poetry – Thank you for taking time to comment on the post. Fair enough, each to their own, I hope you continue to enjoy your paper books. :)

    Alex – Thanks for commenting. I haven't been into digital books quite as long (not even six months), but I know that's they way I'm headed. Digital books are just so convenient.

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  9. My answer is almost identical to Sue H. I can see going to an e-reader one day, but I haven't been interested in investing in one yet. If one fell into my hands then that would be another story. I do love having lots of books on shelves throughout the house, but I can see the advantage of supplementing that with certain books on an e-reader.

    Clare, thanks for taking over for me today. I'm actually staying in a place for the next few days that has internet access, which I didn't think I would be. So I should be online now and then throughout the duration of my stay here.

    Thanks to all of you have and will be leaving comments for Clare to follow up on.

    Lee

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  10. Love my Kindle, love, love, love.... to me it's not HOW the book is delivered as much as how great the story is inside.

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  11. I love my kindle too! I've got all my books organized into genres, so I can easily switch books depending on my moo. I've always read voraciously, but I read even more now with the ereader!

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  12. I am a die hard "real" book kind of girl. I even wrote a blog post titled "E-books are Spineless"- however, my kids have a Kindle and lately I've found myself asking to borrow it more and more, (so I can dpwnload and read my fellow bloggers books like Kyra's "Game On" )

    My feeling now, is that a Kindle purchase for myself is not as far-fetched as I once I thought it would be!

    Great post Clare!

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  13. It doesn't actually matter what one's opinion is on which is better, paper books are on the way out. At some point (in the not too distant future), they will become strictly a status symbol, having become too expensive for a "normal" person to be able to afford.

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  14. Great post, Clare! In the past six months, I've moved from paper to digital. There's certainly something to be said for instant gratification! :)

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  15. Lee – I can understand that. And if I hadn't found a tablet for so cheap, I wouldn't have made the switch yet.

    No problemo, and thank you for having me. Enjoy your travels.

    Cathy – I'm glad to hear you're enjoying your Kindle, and I agree, the story inside is what counts.

    Jemi – That's what I'm finding too. I find myself much more organized in my 'digital life' than I do in real life. Glad you're enjoying your e-reader.

    Jay – Thanks for dropping by can commenting. E-readers do have a certain advantage when an author only releases a digital book.

    Andrew – I do wonder if that's the way the publication scene is heading. It's funny to think out grandchildren might see books as outdated, like we do with cassette tapes.

    Carrie – Thanks! I agree, the instant gratification is a huge draw for me.

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  16. I'm not even sure my kids know what cassettes are!

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  17. Actually, I see physical books becoming more like vinyl. It will be "cool" and retro and a reason for people to think they are better than people that use digital.

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  18. Great post! Ebooks are definitely the wave of the future. I have a Nook, but I rarely get a chance to use it. My experience with my toddler is different. Any time I pull out the Nook or any gadget, he's right there grabbing it and I can't read. Yet he doesn't do that if I'm reading a print book and he's very respectful to them. Perhaps when he's another year older, it'll be easier for me to use the Nook with more regularity.

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  19. Andrew - No, I don't think my son would either. He still remembers VHS though.

    I can certainly see the vinyl comparison, especially with collectables and classics.

    Christine - Oh, my toddler does that too with my tablet. He's obsessed with Angry Birds, but he seems to know the difference between reading time and play time.

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  20. It really does look like e-books will be the future. The advantages of e-book readers really out weigh the advantages of physical books. I own a Kindle and only really miss the idea of having a book on my shelf apart from that I am able to carry masses of books around with me and have the ability to up date my library much quicker. E-book readers are a great idea.

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  21. Samuel - it sounds like you've had very similar experiences to me with e-readers, and I'm glad your Kindle is working out for you. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

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  22. It's like you read my mind for all the reasons I love ebooks.

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  23. Great post! I've had my kindle for a year and a half and I would much rather read on it than a paper book.
    Lee, what are you doing in Orlando? I am very close. I'd love to meet you

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  24. You can still read in the bath. There are e-book condoms. :) I have one for my kindle. No joke.

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  25. I love ebooks. They're cheaper, easier to obtain, and I read them faster than print books. With print books I forget where I left off. I do use bookmarks, but I end up rereading a few paragraphs until I find my spot, but with ebooks I put the font so large that I'm not wasting my time to find my spot. And talk about easy packing and traveling with ebooks.

    I still buy print books. Sometimes I want to feel a book. Also, as a teacher I get to put them in my classroom library when I'm done with them.

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  26. I still read the old fashioned way. I guess until I use an e-reader I will be the nostalgic type. I enjoy the feeling of turning the page.

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  27. Ebooks make it easier to reach our audience, and they're good for traveling.

    That said, I prefer to read the printed copy, it offers a better experience. Choice is a good thing.

    People love to predict trends. Whatever gets readers to read is okay with me, but don't take away my choice.

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  28. I honestly think ebook are great for ADULTS... They are now targeted to younger readers and this I feel is wrong.

    A child needs to see the words on paper. Feel the pages. Look at the art through curious eyes. Have something to hold prior bedtime. To me, an e reader could never replace reading a BOOK to a child before bedtime.

    I, myself, still prefer books. I LOVE everything digital, but for reading I still prefer the old fashioned way.

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  29. Susan Gourley/Kelley - Thanks for commenting. Glad the e-reader is working out for you.

    Heather Murphy - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Good to hear you're enjoying the e-reader.

    Ciara - Thanks for the tip, that's something I'll have to look into. :)

    Medeia Sharif - Thanks for commenting. Those are my feelings exactly. I like feeling I have everything at my fingertips.

    Powdered Toast Man - I think some people do still like that paper feel. :)

    D.G. Hudson - I agree, the choice is very important. That's one thing that's frustrated me with print books recently. Thanks for the comment.

    Michael Di Gesu - I agree, there is something special in having paper books for children, and also taking children to libraries. E books don't offer that. Thanks for commenting.

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  30. Clare, it was great having you as a guest on my blog with this stimulating topic of discussion. And a big thanks to all who contributed to the conversation.

    I'm spending tonight in Mobile, Alabama on my way back to Houston, Texas for a few days. A lot of driving, but it's great seeing the country.

    Lee

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  31. To read in the bathtub put your e-reader in a good ziploc bag. The kind that change colors to let you know it has sealed works best. :)

    Michelle,
    author of Concilium, available in digital format July 27th.

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  32. I adore my Kindle, but I find that I read twice as slow on an eReader than I do with a book, it's kind of odd.

    I definitely think that digital books are the way to go, but I'll be sad to lose my bookcase...

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  33. Arlee – thanks for giving me this opportunity, and opening your blog up to me. I hope you (and everyone else who read the post) enjoyed the discussion it generated.

    Michelle – that's an excellent tip, and one I hadn't considered. I'm gonna keep it in mind. :)

    Jamie – I'm glad you're enjoying your e-reader. That's funny that you read twice as slow on it though.

    Thank you to everyone who left comments on my post, and joined in the discussion. It's been really interesting to hear everyone's thoughts on the future of r-readers, and to hear about your experiences with them.

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Lee