Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Our experience with these mediums is always changing. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of digital vs. printed ink – as readers and as writers.
Jamie Wallace: We are reading and writing our way through an evolution of the written word. Not since the Gutenberg Press has there been such evolution and upheaval around the capturing and dissemination of ideas and stories. It feels like someone pushed the fast-forward button and we’ve all been propelled into a brave new world without warning. As a reader, I’d say that I spend half my reading time with printed materials and half with digital media. My digital reading consists mainly of blog posts and online articles with a few ebooks thrown in on my Kindle. My print reading is split between magazines and books (both fiction and non-fiction). I prefer print books when the material is something I’m studying. Navigating back and forth on the Kindle is too unwieldy for me, and although the idea of digital note-taking is appealing, I haven’t found it easy to do in real life. With fiction, I can go either way, the medium doesn’t impact my enjoyment of the message. As a writer, though I appreciate the expediency and economical efficiency of digital distribution, I still hope to eventually publish in both formats. There is something about holding a physical book in my hands that I know will be deeply satisfying. I don’t want to pass that up.
Lisa J. Jackson: I’m always going to prefer print reading. I just like holding the paper in my hands. That said, I got a Kindle as a birthday gift last year, and have a bunch of books on it – that I have yet to read. I can see the benefits of using an e-reader on a plane or on vacation to avoid having to pack a lot of books, but so far, I haven’t had the time or desire. And, to me, having to worry about ‘charging’ my book in order to read it makes me a little crazy. Will the battery die right at the good part? E-books are big sellers, so I certainly want my writing to be in print and in e-book versions.
Julie Hennrikus: I used to be the kind of woman who used half of her suitcase for books. My Kindle (and Kindle app) have changed that. When I have a friend releasing a book, I pre-order it for downloading on my Kindle. Most of my entertainment reading is done digitally these days. That said, I still have too many paper books. I recently donated six boxes of books, and can donate more. It made me think a lot about this question. What books do I keep/value? Which don’t I? I kept non-fiction and reference books. I kept books I treasure. I kept coffee table books. And I kept books that had been signed to me. I love this digital age, and the ease of reading. My aging eyes love that I can bounce up the font size. But to ponder, to think? I need paper.
Deborah Lee Luskin: I own a Kindle, and I take it when I travel, which leaves room in my suitcase for a toothbrush and a change of clothes, which is nice. But I was horrified the first time I took it on a plane and had to turn it off for take-off and landing. So now I always travel with a print magazine, as well – one I can leave on the plane when I arrive at my destination. I also prefer magazines and printed matter when I read in the bath – for obvious reasons! (I know, there’s a waterproof case available, but . . .) I’m impressed by my Kindle - being able to download a new book from the middle of nowhere, to change font size, and to read for months between charges. But when all is said and done, I still prefer to read books. But digital books make sense – and money. It’s a fabulous method of distribution, and since I brought the eVersion of my print book out myself (never sold the electronic rights), I’m pleased by the higher royalties I receive for these.
Wendy Thomas – I have a Kindle and a Nook. I’ve downloaded and read many books on each device. (I have also watched many movies on my Kindle but that’s probably a different conversation.) The beauty of an eReader is that if I want a book, I can literally get a copy of it within minutes.
I also, however, continue to buy hard copies of books (far too many, if you ask my husband.) I personally don’t like reading an eBook it just doesn’t have the same experience for me as holding a book in my hands. But I recognize that eBooks are the way of the future. It’s clearly a waste of resources to print books on paper when you can immediately deliver electronic files.
eReaders are also changing who gets published. Now anyone who has a computer can write and “publish” an eBook. That means that we have access to an unprecedented amount of new writing – some of it very good, some it, well, not so good.
Moving to eBooks (and as a culture, that’s where we are going, do you think anyone under the age of 15 is ever going to buy a hardcopy book?) means that we are going to have to rely on new ways to get the word out on which eBooks are worth reading. eBook reviewers (good ones, not those who are being paid to review) are going to become very important and eBook marketing is going to look very different from the large cardboard displays we currently see in book stores.
Diane MacKinnon: I love books and magazines and all things printed. But, my Kindle has saved my back when traveling and possibly my marriage. The first time I traveled with my husband, he was horrified to see me packing enough books and magazines to last me a month if we were going somewhere where there was nothing to do but read–which we weren’t. And, we were going for a long weekend. When he asked me if I needed all those books, I said “yes.” When he tried to convince me to leave at least the hardcovers at home, all I could say was: “I need them. I’m not saying it’s rational, I’m just saying I need them.” He gave me a Kindle as soon as the first one came out. I love it. I download a book before I leave home and, if I’m feeling squirrelly in the airport, I download another one (or two) just to be on the safe side. Plus, I have all my archived books. I tend to download nonfiction books I know I’ll reread to my Kindle so I have them with me at all times. As a writer, I hope to hold my own book in my hands someday, but I’ll be sure to make it available for the Kindle, too.