Thursday, December 29, 2011

E-book publishing? No thanks

I’ve pondered this issue for quite some time, set to write this entry, pondered it again and again and reached the same conclusion:

While I’m usually fairly quick about using new technology if I feel it can benefit me, I won’t this time. While my books will probably be published digitally eventually… it won’t be any time soon.

I feel that it is very much an inferior product. It is that simple, really.

Except for the much quicker distribution method, the reasons for staying with paper as the sole media are so much more significant. The paper book is so much better when it comes to the actual reading. My experience with proofreading has only confirmed this. It is easier spotting mistakes and the enjoyment is greater. While reading on a screen will always remain a muddled experience, at best, the words stand out clear and strong on white paper. I’m very encouraged that many teenagers have come to me and said they agree with this. Reading on a screen will always be unnatural. The paper book will always be right for reading. It doesn’t matter if you have read digitally from birth, like more and more children do. They will still feel more comfortable with a natural, «real» book.

I’m currently writing a novel set in New York City in 1979, a place I have only visited in passing. I did most of the research on the internet and did get a fairly good impression of the city, but it was when I borrowed a book from the local library that the learning process started in earnest. I read a novel digitally and didn’t like it. I reread a used, torn copy later, during a boring train journey and loved it. Suddenly, it was as if the story had been rewritten and the characters had suddenly been made interesting and inspiring.

There are several other more or less important reasons (me being disgusted with IPad, Kindle, Nook and all that shit among other things), but this is the gist of it.

Those I probably will publish digitally first are stories that are less fit to turn into real books, with a length between a short story and a novel, «novelettes», as coined by Stephen King. I have a few of those.

Or I might just publish them in an anthology, even though I usually hate those.

They say the publishing of new paper books will be a thing in the past by 2020. Goddess, I hope they’re wrong.

I should point out that until this point I’ve been at the forefront of the digital revolution. Self publishing would have been much harder, both in terms of financial and practical problems, if not for the fact that I have done everything with the books myself for ten years, content, cover and formatting, except the actual printing and inexpensive world-wide distribution handled by my printer Lighting Source. Of course that would E-book publishing take care of. That’s also why it remains tempting to me.

The day I can sell E-books directly from my computer or website without the current trappings and traps, I will probably do it, or the chances will be higher for me caving…

The day I or anybody could print inexpensive paper books in the living room would be even better. There are such machines in stores already.

It is strange. I wasn’t fully aware of how much contempt I truly felt for total digital publishing before I had written this and actually read what I had written. The intent was to write a fairly neutral piece.

I want the reading of my books to be an extraordinary experience. Only a story told on paper can make that a reality.

More about the art of a truly independent author/artist on Midnight Fire:

ShadowWalk - an alternative description
Final proof
Messy detours
Santa and his amazing helpers - nine online stories
Author's word - ShadowWalk
Author's words - Dreams Belong to the Night
Author's word - The Defenseless
True to life
For what it is worth
Poet's word
Sites supplementing my books
Making covers
True artistic freedom - Stage 1 to 4
Hysterical and fanatical grammar defenders
Doing it yourself - technical advice for self publishers
Kill the dog one of the very best advices when it comes to writing fiction...
True artistic freedom - stage 4
Author's word - Night on Earth
Author's word - The Slaves
Celebration mighty and true
Author's word - Your Own Fate
True artistic freedom - stage 3
True independence
Modern slavery
The Storyteller
True Artistic Freedom (II)
Reading it again
The chores of an independent author/artist
My fifty cents
True artistic freedom
Labeling and genre writing
Alarums of reality
The difficulties in describing a complex storyline

Other links:

Firewind - my stories, art and poems on the Web
My writer «CV»
The Janus Clan



I am in 100% agreement with you about digital books. I hope you never go digital. I absolutely love and enjoy reading books on paper. It is all that I purchase. I get so much more from reading words on paper. I love the look, feel and smell of real books. I hope they never become obsolete.

Monty Fowler said...

While I respect your stance on the topic, I must say that for me, I want to sell books. I want the product of my months of labor to get into the hands of as many readers as possible. That means you have to sell your books in the markets where the readers are. Today, that marketplace is, whether you like it or not. For anyone who has aspirations of being more than a "vanity" self-published author, you need to control your destiny by publishing your book in EVERY FORMAT people consume them in. Right now, ebooks are king of the hill. Tomorrow, it might be some other format. But I know one thing for sure. I will publish my books in any manner that people enjoy consuming them.

Amos Keppler said...

Monty & Darkness: My books are available on Amazon and all over the world. That's sufficient for me, right now.

While I respect Monty's opinion, I have chosen a different approach.

I will probably print paperbacks before I do E-books.