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.