The ebook is here to stay. Of that there is no doubt. It’s a wonderful boon for the reading public, compact and accessible. One ‘click’ and you can be perusing the latest work from whoever takes your fancy – and because it’s cheap you can take a chance on a new writer without breaking the bank.
My own Kindle is amassing a nice library, with books tucked away for holidays and for future reference. I’ve taken some chances and been very impressed. Also, I need never worry again about W.H. Smith’s being closed and the scarey prospect of a bookless train journey lying ahead. And yet…
The paperback version of my own book, the comedy fantasy ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’ came in the post this week. The parcel was opened with the glee of a six-year-old on Christmas morning. I took the book out with me. We went to London together, we slept side-by-side and last night we went out for a curry with some other writers.
They took my book out of its protective bag and felt it. They stroked the soft touch cover, admired the total design, including the previously unseen back cover, and they flicked the pages to see how they fell. One friend even opened it wide and smelt it! That’s because that is what you have to do with a book. A book is a physical thing – you have a relationship with it. You can fall in love with a book, treasure it, be reminded where you were when a stray corner got turned over by an errant friend or an accidental stain appeared. A book can become part of your life, something that you return to time and time again, for enjoyment or for succour.
The other writers understood this and despite them saying that they had more sales now from ebooks, they still wanted the paperbacks as well. They said it was about profile, but I knew it was something else – something physical. They knew I knew, because I felt the same way too.
So thank you ebook, you’re terrific. However, there will always be paperbacks and probably hardbacks too – publishers need not fear. They may become the physical souvenirs of an ereader journey you enjoyed so much you required a memento, but they will survive.
And as for the paperback copy of my own story, it has gone back in its protective bag and it is out of the sun. You see, it isn’t just a book to me – it’s precious. My precious!