So it’s me, Charles, back for my monthly installment. I’ve been around a while (I’m 39) and I thought the other day of how much technology has affected what way we ingest our favorite writers. When I was young (up until I was 17), the only way to read was with paper (at least for me, PDFs did exist in 1993 but were only used then for academic papers). Aside from novels (which I have been obsessed with, even now I only have about one-hundred) I had a huge collection of comic books, probably around 3000 of them. I love comics (I still read them) and I thought my collection would be worth something someday . . . well it was worth something but not nearly as much as I hoped. Around 15 years later I started to sell it off piece by piece but I digress. My point here is that whether it was a comic book, a magazine (I used to collection Dungeons and Dragons magazines) or a novel, it was paper and it usually meant just carrying 1 or 2 with you.
That changed back in 1996 when the first Palm Pilot came out and since I’ve always loved gadgets, I had one that year. With a palm pilot I was able to read books, e-mails and do some other convenient things whenever I wanted to. PDFs were only just gaining popularity any virtually any you found were ones you created yourself or looked high and low for on the Internet. Still though the idea that I could carry around more than one or two things to read and I was intrigued. Sure the display was crappy (it was not even in color but this weird monochrome LCD screen. It was a touch screen though and the ability to tab it with a stylus pen was neat, I had one with me 5 days a week for years, I found them reliable and fairly easy to use (though I went through two in four years).
Before we go further I know that Laptops were available in 1981 and those with color screens were around by 1991 but they were expensive then and I didn’t carry one around me most of the time. I will add though while comic book subscriptions (or the Comixology app) weren’t around, there were many PDF and CBR (comic book reader) versions to be found, so by 1997 I was reading comics and PDFs on my laptop as well. By the way if you ever think about buying a laptop on Ebay with no warranty (and it’s as strange brand name) don’t do it! I had constant trouble with mine and in the end had to give to my friend for spare parts.
For me I reached the point when I found that I was still printing stuff off of the internet and buying novels (though I found I could save a ton of cash by never buying hardcover and waiting for sales/going to used book stores). I used to go on binges and once while on vacation in Florida I bought 15 Star Trek books and read them all (most of them were crap if you’re curious. There is something about holding a book in your hands, no matter how cheap/convenient/easy eBooks get, I’ll never be able to give up print entirely.
Move forward some more, this time to April of 2010. My first book was released, “The Newfoundland Vampire” (you knew I was getting a plug in here somewhere! 😉 Oh it’s currently available from the great folks at Distinguished Press and is better than ever with a new cover and touched-up story. I gained a new perspective on books, comics, ebooks and audio books. I could see then that it hurt me when someone downloaded my book for free and I made a point to pay for everything I got from the internet. More relevant to this post, however, is that I got an iPad (it still works fine too!).
The iPad changed a lot for me. Now I could carry around hundreds of books, the ability to download any comic I had purchased and of course with the internet purchase any book (that was available as an ebook) I liked and read it instantly. With this lightweight, handy device I found myself buy paper books much less, the same went for comics. I did also (just for completeness sake) also buy a Kindle. The reasoning is lost on me (I suppose it was an impulse buy) but I was impressed by the devotion of this device to books and it’s simple connection to Amazon (for free at the time as well) was a great piece of marketing.
Now let’s bring it up to present day. I find that I listen to an audio book and I’m reading a novel on my iPad but yet I still buy my D&D books in print format and I have a good dozen print books waiting to be read on my bookshelf. For comics I still buy them at Flea Markets/conventions/comic book stores when I see a good deal (or something I can’t get in digital format) and I’m subscribed to four digital titles. So I would say I’m about 60% digital and 40% print. There’s something about the feel of paper and the ease of flipping through pages that I haven’t found a digital book able to replicate, until that day I’ll continue to support both.
How about you, do you think ebooks have print on the ropes? Is there room for both? Which one will win? Is it even a contest? I’m getting tired! Talk to you all next month.
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