Last week, as I read through the reactions to the Dorchester Publishing decision to go digital on the Smart Bitches site I was surprised at the number of comments that expressed the “I will never give up the physical book for ebooks” sentiment. I think I was particularly surprised to find this on a romance site, because it was my impression that readers of romance novels had been some of the earliest adopters of ebooks-hence Harlequin’s success as a leader in the world of digital publishing.
Then today I read an interesting post entitled “It’s the End of the Book As We Know It and I Feel Fine,“ where the author argues that the traditional model of publishing is a scarcity model (where the reader has to wait for a book they are interested in reading) and that with the immediate accessibility of ebooks, “The new era of books may actually see more authors, more reading, and more books being bought and sold.”
Once again, the comments in response to this post often focused on readers’ sadness and fear about the potential loss of “real” books–and they waxed eloquently on the feel, and smell, and scribbled margin notes of a paper-based book.
As I thought about this sort of reaction to ebooks, I couldn’t help but reflect on what a life-saver my Kindle and ebooks have been in the past year. My father has Alzheimer’s and I have been traveling to see him every other month, a trip that takes six or seven hours by plane each way. In addition, once I arrive, there is often not a lot I can do for my father but just be with him, since extended conversations are increasingly frustrating for him, as he searches for words and tries to follow my sentences. While we have good times singing along to the old classic movie musicals I bring, much of the time he is either napping, or caught up in a world I can’t understand. So I read. And sitting beside him reading, something I did throughout my childhood, make these visits bearable.