I bought my first e-book. So why do I feel so guilty?

Because I succumbed to the pleasure of immediacy instead of getting off my duff, getting dressed, getting in my car—putting gas in my car—driving to the local B&N, finding a place to park, searching through the shelves for what I wanted, standing in line, paying for my purchase, and driving back home.

The thing is, I love paper. I believe a tree’s greatest accomplishment in life is to become a book, next to sheltering the woodland creatures and producing oxygen of course. There’s nothing like being the first to crack the spine of a good book. And rows and rows of them at the library or in a bookstore? Be still my heart. Besides, think of all the good folks who keep their jobs when you buy a book from the bookstore. Economic stimulus!

But man I’ve got an I-Pad now and it is too cool for words and you can get virtually (pun intended) any book you want downloaded from Amazon in 30, count them 30 seconds and I don’t even have to pay for shipping and handling thank you very much.

Yep, my feelings of remorse were short-lived.

So what e-book did I get? The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which is somewhat ironic don’t you think? In his postapocalyptic (try saying that word 5x fast without spitting) future there’s no electricity or battery power left to run the equipment to read the books. You want to read? You have to find the remnants of a paper past. Gives you pause doesn’t it?

The big question is, will I do it again? Yes. I’m sorry. I will. But if it’s any consolation, I regard my E-books as a test drive only.

If I don’t love it, I have 30 seconds of buyer’s remorse before I obliterate those electrons with a keystroke. This is true liberation since I cannot bring myself to destroy real books, can’t even throw them into the recycle bin. Even if I hated reading them, I’ll give them away instead.

If I love it, I’m sure to buy the real thing and add it to my collection. You know that collection, the one that sits on shelves, makes stacks on the desk and collects dust-bunnies under the bed.

Photo credit Iqoncept

6 thoughts on “Betrayal

  1. Interesting Karin, and I actually knew that the physical production didn’t represent a majority of the cost (although I think publishers need to look at their overhead costs).

    But any book more than say 5 years old shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars. By that time the hardcover versions have found their way to the bargain jobbers and if I can get the hardcover brand new for $4.98 then there really is no excuse for charging $7.99 for the e-version.

  2. @BMorris thanks for the insight. I think community colleges came into existence right around the time those scribes needed to be retrained and sent back out into the workforce.
    @D Palmer, you might like this link on e-book pricing, gives the publisher’s perspective.
    @Brian, my book isn’t available yet, but it is on submission. I will definitely make an announcement, have a party, buy a dog… BMorris had a beta copy of my book when I first wrote it (pre-editing), very rough, but he still speaks to me even after enduring all those missing commas and typos. Only the edited version will see the light of day now. 🙂

  3. How come I don’t have your book on MY kindle? I can’t believe it be out there without an announcement. A big party. Something.

  4. I just received a e-reader as a gift.

    I take the L to work most of the time so I read a couple books a week. The idea of a small thin device in my messenger bag rather than a thick hardcover (or two if I though I would finish on the way to work) was very appealing, but I get 99% of my books at the library, which has a very limited selection of borrowable e-books, so for me switching to electronic would mean adding expense.

    But as an experiment I broke down and bought a book last week (Way of the Wolf, the first book in the Vampire Earth series by Chicago based author E.E. Knight). I enjoyed the portability, and have since checked out a couple e-books from the library. I have always dismissed the tactile sensation argument that bibliophiles make. But now that Ive used one I kind of understand. It actually was slightly less satisfying to press the button to turn the page than physically turning it myself.

    But, the price of the book I bought, $7.99, kind of pissed me off. The book was released in 2003. I could have bought the paperback for the price, and I have seen a subsequent book in the bargain section at a store near my home for less than that.

    As long as publishers insist on hard copy prices for e-copy books I am going to limit the e-books I buy.

    That said, make sure we know when your book comes out and I will certainly buy it.

  5. Welcome to the club. I do not miss the feel of paper one bit.
    I can still see the revulsion on your face when you realized you were excited to see your book on my Kindle. And so the love-hate relationship began.

    My bookshelves get more and more empty as the days pass. Favorite books get replaced by their Kindle equivalents as I re-read them. The Lord of the Rings, Shogun, the works of Mark Twain; so many books have been given to Good Will.
    It has now been almost two years since I purchased a paper book. there are times I have paid more for the electronic version, due to the deep discounting of paper, which I can’t understand.
    I have drawn the line at all the leather-bound classics I have that I can now get completely for free. I know the day may come when space is more important than my beautiful shelves, but that is not today.

    Yes, it is true that eventually people working at the actual printing locations will lose their jobs. That was also true of the scribes before them, who hand-copied every book. That is true of the stone cutter that engraved the stones of Egypt…you get the idea.

    Don’t worry. I have enjoyed your writing just as much as if I had read them on paper. Words still have power.

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