Are E-books Real Books? Ugh! Point Me to the Field of Poppies.

January 31, 2012

On the heels of Nicole’s post about e-readers came Jonathan Franzen’s disparaging comments about e-books.  Twitter exploded with rebuttals, and one question caught my attention: Are e-books even real books? I rolled my eyes, feeling like I’d landed back in Philosophy 101 where we debated whether or not the tree outside the window was really there.

When I’m reading—on my iPad—I don’t think, “Hey, I’m reading an e-book.” I’m simply reading. When I’m writing, I don’t think, “Hey, I’m going to slack on this manuscript and target an e-pub.” I’m simply writing the best story I can write.

On the surface, none of my thoughts or actions seems controversial, but other people sure do get worked up about e-books and e-publishing. At the crux is this idea that print books are of better quality writing and storytelling than digital books. Haters espouse that a digital book is only a digital book because it wasn’t good enough for the “legitimate” publishing world to stand behind.

Good God, why care that much? If you like it, read it. If you don’t, stick with what you love. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the real issue. Is all the noise because some people are worried they’ll lose what they love?

Though I love my e-books, I can’t imagine a world without paper books.

Bottom line: I hate to argue. I want the world to hold hands and run through a beautiful field of poppies, but I’m not holding my breath for the digital haters to grab on anytime soon. Why can’t we all get along?

Seriously, the world is big enough for all of us.



5 Responses to “Are E-books Real Books? Ugh! Point Me to the Field of Poppies.”

  1. Tilly Slaton Says:

    Haha …

    There are several books that have been “really published” that are nothing but a load of horse manure. There is a “real publisher’s” name on the inside of the copyright page … there are “real pages” to turn and “real stores” in which to purchase them …

    Imagine the 40s skirts. Now, imagine the skirts today. See what I mean? Give them all time. It doesn’t matter if a book is self published, published by a publisher for strictly online purchase and marketing or whether or not it is being published by a company and mass produced in physical paper form.

    There are good books and bad books. There are authors who write well and there are authors who don’t …

    *shrug* In the end .. I have my bookshelves covered in dust when I’m lazy and spotless when I’m not .. In the end my kindle is flashing a dying battery symbol at me or shining in all it’s brilliant green ready light glory 🙂

    It is what it is … ~happy reading!

  2. raven Says:

    ARGH so true. if one more person looks at me and says “oh not a real book then” I may well stick their ‘real book’ where the sun don’t shine!
    I write the best I can, to entertain and engross my reader. Be that in print or electronic. But and shameful to admit, will I ever feel a ‘real author’ unless something can be picked up off a bookshelf and held in the reader’s hand?

    • Hey, I hear ya. This is something I struggled with as a beginner non-fiction writer. Until I held the glossy, nationally distributed contributor copies in my hand…until I could tell friends and family to go to their local newsstand and buy the magazine my article was in…I wasn’t a “real” writer. I ended up with plastic containers filled with hundreds of glossy magazines. They take up space in storage and don’t mean nearly as much to me as the fiction stories I keep on my harddrive now. The magazines, the flashy “senior editor” title, the regular paycheck and benefits told the world I was a “real” writer, but in the end it wasn’t enough for me. I gave it up to write my stories, and if my stories never see paper, traditional publication then so be it…as long as the stories are shared with someone somewhere somehow. 🙂


  3. Miss Alexandrina Says:

    If I’m being truly honest, I’ll admit that I’m more of a ‘physical’ book person, but there’s certianly nothing wrong with e-books. I would never say that they’re not books at all!
    However, the debate goes on, as I believe it will for a while.

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