In which Anna speaks up for all types of books

I feel the need to make a clarification on my previous post, which is intended to be more about my general bemusement about not getting the “old book smell” thing rather than a statement about print vs. digital in general. And yet, I’ve already started getting comments from various folks about “I prefer print because…” or “I prefer digital because…” Not just “I prefer”, either. I’m getting words like “aversion” thrown around, too.

Because yes, this is a contentious topic. And trust me when I tell you, folks, that I’ve heard all the various arguments for people’s preferred reasons for reading in whatever format they prefer. Many of them I do indeed adhere to myself.

I like print because…

  • You don’t have to recharge a print book
  • You don’t have to go to the trouble of cracking the DRM
  • You can more safely read it in the bath (though I note I’ve actually dropped more print books than ereaders into the bath water)
  • You can read it when the power goes out
  • A well-designed book IS a thing of beauty and a joy forever
  • If I ever lose my ereader, I still have the backup print copies of books by my most admired authors (the people I buy in both formats)

And I like digital because…

  • It’s way easier for me to carry my ereader on a commute
  • I have lots more books at my disposal on the commute
  • I can immediately start a new book if I finish one partway through my lunch break or bus ride
  • Ebooks take up no shelf space and the number of them I own is limited only by the space on the device
  • There are some books I can in fact only get digitally, like all my fellow Carina authors’ books
  • It’s way easier for me to buy Quebec SF/F in digital form than it is to order the books from Quebec
  • I own so many print books already that I’m chronically out of shelf space, so I pretty much HAVE to buy digital right now

Notice here though how I say “I like…”, not “I prefer…” Because yes, I do like both formats. Both have their good points. Both have their bad points.

And I’d like to ask all of you out there, no matter which type of book you prefer, to be aware of how you present your preferences. I think I speak for digitally published authors everywhere when I say, for example, that it’s hurtful to hear someone say to you, “Well gosh, I’d love to read your book, but I only read real books.” As if that story you labored over for several years to get written, edited, accepted by a publisher, and then edited some more until it was fit to ship is somehow less worthy, less real, than books manifested in paper and ink.

I’m here to tell you, people, to the people that wrote those ebooks and to the people that enjoy reading them, those stories are every bit as real.

Likewise, digital advocates, be mindful of how you present yourselves too. It’s equally hurtful for people who love their books in physical form to hear “you’re behind the times” or “you’re stuck in the past” or “you’re being hurtful to the environment because your books are using paper” or whatever.

Those of you who know me well may recognize the similarity of this argument to ones I’ve put forth advocating against computer or phone evangelism, too. It’s the same principle, really.

Because what it boils down to is, people like what people like. You don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to defend it. Just remember, the feelings of the people who love print are every bit as real and valid as the feelings of the people who love digital, and vice versa.

And as I pointed out in the previous post, books themselves are powerful creators of emotion throughout our culture. Justifiably so.

On that, I think we can all agree!

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