Guest Blogger: Candace Blackburn

Digital Versus Printed – One Author’s Opinion by Candace Blackburn

After the birth of my second son nine years ago, I took a proactive approach to reducing my family’s carbon footprint. I did draw the line at cloth diapers. I applaud you if you use them, however, my child frequently filled his with nuclear waste so that was a big no go. I have trained two children to put plastic, glass and aluminum in the proper recycling areas of our house. They go with me to the recycling center. I feel confident in their social consciousness in this area. So, I decided to take the next step and get an e-reader, thinking that it would be a plus in our evolution of responsibility as a family.

Within two days, I had downloaded ten books on the unnamed e-reader, going through them quickly. I was proud, thinking that Ed Begley, Jr. had absolutely nothing on me and kept downloading.

Withdrawal set in soon. I make frequent trips to a certain large chain book retailer and speak with the people there about upcoming books, books that are out, should I buy this or should I buy that, etc., etc. By making all of my transactions at home, I found that I missed the human element in this equation.

And here is the kicker. I bought the e-reader the day before my birthday in late April. I treated it like the expensive object that it was and put it away for safe keeping every night. Within a month, there were lines across my screen. It has not been abused or misused (an amazing feat in a household with two boys) but I can not read an entire page on my nearly three month old e-reader.

Which left me staring at the mountain of books. The condition of my books tell stories for themselves. The ones that are nearly destroyed from overuse are obviously my favorites. My Jeaniene Frost books will not even close flat anymore. I have stacked half of my Sherrilyn Kenyon books in a pile with a hardback on top so they will close without protest. Same with my JR Wards, Lara Adrians, Gena Showalters and Kresley Coles. My prized two possessions in this collection are a signed, personalized copy of Lover Mine and a signed copy of The Last Song from Nicholas Sparks. I can not imagine walking into a signing and saying “excuse me, could you sign my e-reader”.

I treasure the books. The Mitch Alboms have logged air miles with me. A couple of the James Pattersons just went to Manhattan. My Bram Stoker got me through several dentist appointments with my children. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell kept me in stitches while my oldest was having tests run. The Last Lecture was read in a parking lot (yes, I am serious) because once I read page one, there was no stopping.

I read Salem’s Lot at age 12. I clutched that book tight during the late night/early morning hours as I trudged over to the window to make sure it was locked.

I am a writer. Frankly, when I am published, I do not care if you download my books or buy them from a major retailer. I will, in fact, sign a e-reader. But as for me, I concede this environmental battle and resign myself to finding more recyclable products. I admit that I am one of the consumers who will continue to buy actual books. There is a comfort in bent spines, turned down pages and the unmistakable smell of paper that has been over a printing press. So, I am off to find other ways to reduce my carbon footprint and then to the bookstore so I can buy Chloe Neill’s first two Chicagoland books (which were lost on the e-reader, by the way). Have a great time reading, whether it be on paper or screen.

About Jackie 3273 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.

8 Comments

  1. I have an e-reader but still buy some books in paperback since sometimes they are cheaper to buy at the bookstore with a coupon then they are to download. And I enjoy going to used book stores and flea markets to look for books.

  2. of course, you do realize that you have mentioned each and every author i have a collection on.. showalter and cole being my favorites.. GO WEREs!!!! =)

  3. Yeah, I’m on the fence still about e-readers (I’ve had two now. The two big ones, of course). They are great for us mass-transit commuters, being so easy to hold and navigate on the bus and/or subway, even if you’re obliged to have to stand. Definitely cuts down on the book-cover and page fumbling. Also great for those of us who tend to read a couple of books at the same time. No more lugging small libraries about in our backpacks! B

    But I too miss the smell and feel of actual books! I too miss the bookstore atmosphere! Therefore I too still buy physical books and, most likely, always will.

    Like anything in this world, e-readers have their pros and cons. Totally have a love/hate relationship with mine.

  4. I usually end up with both a paper copy and an e-version. e-books are great for searching, but I still prefer hardcover (over paperback) books. I have an e-reader, that sits on my desk, for those occasions when I want to have a selection of books with me. But for the most part,if I had a choice, I’d choose a paper book. I don’t mind used books though, and often buy them that way.

  5. I too feel nothing compares to that smell of a good paperback! I am with you on this one, Candace! Just, it seems a little ironic to be reading this on the screen? What to do….

  6. I resisted getting an e-reader for a very long time and broke down in June and allowed my hubby to buy me one for my birthday. I have to admit I absolutely love it. The 2 main reasons are that I can find a lot of books for cheap and it’s easy to take with me everywhere. I find that I’m getting more reading time in now than I used to. However, I do have to admit there is nothing better than the smell of a book or walking into a library or bookstore. It’s something I don’t plan to give up, but just do less of. Another reason I bought an e-reader was space…I just don’t have it to store all of my books. :( One of these days maybe I’ll be rich and I can have my own library with walls full of books (a girl can dream, right? lol), but until then at least this keeps my hubby off my back about getting rid of some of my books. LOL

  7. I’m a paper diehard, but for a reason some might find silly- bits are fragile. Paper… okay, it’s kinda fragile too. It rips, it tears, with paperbacks the spine develops creases, eventually the pages fall out, and if you spill a glass of something on it that’s all she wrote. But as fragile as they are, they can still last for years. You could bury a book in a time capsule, and when it’s opened up in 20 years the person opening it will still be able to read it- assuming you speak the same language, anyway. Digital materials are vulnerable to obsolescence. You’re rolling the dice on whether commonly-available tools can read any given 20-year-old digital document. (Unless it’s .txt, or something equally basic.) The decay of the storage media is another problem- something as simple as wandering too close to something sufficiently magnetic can kill your entire collection. Paper has much less drama involved in reading.

    A favorite Penny Arcade strip comes to mind:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/3/9/

  8. I totally understand you – I would never ever give away my books for an ereader…I love to touch my books, to have them on my bookshelf and I love to have keepers!

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