14 July 2011

YOUR OPINION: digital publishing.

The argument and discussions about digital publishing has been going on for a fair few years, with many people originally being very against it, but what are and were their reasonings? 

This 'topic' is one that I have wanted to talk about for a while and this particular post has been in several draft modes since early May. 

I know many people who hate the idea of reading a novel on digital media, be that an ipad, kindle, e-reader etc, but what are their reasoning? Most of my friends who dislike e-readers have never used one to read a book and get their ideas formed from other peoples opinions. I am not saying I didn't have opinions like theres, in fact when I worked at Waterstones I hated the idea of people reading books on what seemed like a TV screen.

Waterstones started trying to sell Song E-Readers in store in an attempt to kick start the digital reading age, and as an employee I was told to try and sell them to the customers. However the problem was that I had never seen one working before, heard anything about it or understood why we were selling them in the first place. It didn't help that the rest of the team were against them purely because they weren't an actual book, and in case you failed to notice, waterstones is in fact a BOOK STORE. Why in the world would we want to sell something that could inevitably put us out of a job? 

I hated the song e-reader, it was clumpy, ugly and overpriced. Two years later and I am an owner of an Amazon Kindle.

I purchased a kindle due to my travelling needs, the price and the fact the amazon store is easy to navigate and books are cheeper. For example at the moment Caitlin Morans novel 'How to be a women' is retailing in shops for £11.99 I can get it for my kindle for £4.19. This summer I have 7 books on my kindle which cost me £10.02 that works out at an average price of £1.43 per book, now normally when I go on holiday I pop into my local Waterstones and buy 3 books on the 3 for 2 offer and spend £15.95. I think from that little example you can see why I am embracing the digital world of e-readers.

However I purchased my kindle last October (2010) and didn't start using it till December, so for 2 months it sat in a draw picking up dust. The e-reader is different and therefore you have to be fully confident to pull it out and accept that a few strange looks are going to be thrown your way, especially if you are at University, because lets face it how many students do you know who read lots of books in their fist year at university? Personally I didn't meet that many, it was more about drinking and partying that reading and studying! The Kindle became my best friend in December because I came home for Christmas, there was a lot of free time to read and relax. I was planning on bringing back most of my stuff from uni but the weather meant my parents couldn't drive up to collect me and I had to go home by train which meant I had to repack 5 big bags into 1 small suitcase. So there were no books to be coming back just as many clothes as I could stuff into the case, therefore this small and slim kindle became a hero as I had something for the train home and on the tube, not forgetting in the house and when we visited family & friends. It was over the christmas period that I finally got what all the fuss was about. 

The point of e-readers is to make peoples lives easier, just like microwaves and universal remotes, they are not a replacement just a helpful extra to add on the side. The worry my friends have is that people who read on e-readers will forgo buying actual books, however I don't think that is true. We are a civilisation that like to show off, reality shows are popular because people like to be nosy, fast cars are purchased by people who want other people to know they have money and bookshelves were invented so people could show off to their friends how many (& what type of) books they have read. 

Every summer for the last 3 years I have purchased Linwood Barclays new novel and this year was no exception, I went into Waterstones and picked up his new book 'Never Look Away.' I wouldn't even consider buying it on Kindle instead of the paperback because I like seeing them on my shelf as a collection. What the e-reader has allowed me to do is read books by authors I would otherwise miss, like Beth Revis who wrote 'Across the Universe', it has meant that I could read books on my commute to London when I was standing up, as the Kindle can be held with one hand. 

Digital publishing is something that should be celebrated, not feared. It gives authors who self publish there novels a chance to actually be read and to sold, it starts to stop the stupid idea of books written by women are only to be read by women as the traditional front cover is less important, it means travellers can take with them a lot more books and take us a lot less space in luggage. And lastly it might even get more young people reading again, because honestly who doesn't want to be seen with the latest technology?

LET ME KNOW WHAT YOUR OPINION IS ON DIGITAL PUBLISHING, either by leaving a comment or sending me a tweet @blogbykobrak 

Here are a list of articles and blog posts about e-readers that I have found particularly interesting. 
Don't Fear e-readers by Sheri 
e-books outsell physical books three to one by Computerworld 
College Students opinions on Good Reads
Amazon & Waterstones by Guardian
Kindle now a library by Guardian
Can e-readers save Newspapers by Economist 
Why I Hate e-readers by Gizmodo
10 things I hate about e-readers by I call it research
I hate e-readers by Judgemental BookSeller 
Why I love e-readers by Outside the Line
Why I love an e-reader by Sarah Rooftops 

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