I am not a Luddite

I swear. I promise. I love my gadgets. I’ve been an enthusiastic up-taker of technology since I first laid eyes on an Apple computer back in 1987. I’ve had around eight Mac computers, desk- and laptops, and numerous iThings; I’ve always upgraded my mobile phone as soon as my contracts allowed—and now my 84 year old Dad, who never quite figured out how to use his mobile, thinks I’m surgically attached to my iPhone. (He’s not far wrong.)

And it’s not just Mac stuff. I’ve got label-makers and kitchen gadgets that look adorably like Muppets and do more or less the same job as my trusty analogue aluminium box grater. I can not only program my DVD to play all regions, but I can—so I lately discovered when a new DVD player was not, in fact, all region as promised by the salesman in a certain yellow-logoed electronic chain store—download and upgrade its software in under 30 minutes.

And sometimes I think I live online. Those of you who know me know I am also a hearty user of social media. I’ve been tweeting since Christmas Eve 2008 (I now have 3 accounts and am delighted to say that my cat Louis was once trending in Australia—alas, because he was missing, but it did have a happy ending, so I can enjoy the brief notoriety). And let’s just say when your teenage niece tells you you’re spending too much time on Facebook, it may be time to take stock…

So you can see that I am not a Luddite.

But ebooks? I just haven’t got on board with them.

I don’t own a Kindle and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve got ereader apps on my iPad and iPhone, but despite that, I just don’t read ebooks. Ever. The most I’ve managed is a couple of chapters of a YA novel I downloaded to my first iPhone as a kind of experiment, but I didn’t get far with it. (Peggle may have had something to do with that—yes, it’s so long ago that I read a novel on an ereader that Angry Birds hadn’t even been invented.) I have downloaded other books—mostly out of copyright classics, thinking they’ll be handy backup reading if I ever get caught out without a book or magazine, but I don’t think I’ve cracked a single one of them. If the metaphor can cross media. And if turning on your ereader is, in fact the same thing as cracking a book.

For me, it’s just not.

It’s not that I have any particular objection to ereaders, and I certainly don’t think it’s a lesser form of reading. I find those who carp on about the death of the book as annoying as those who think people only tweet what they ate for lunch, or proclaim Facebook the end of intimacy. I am, in fact, delighted that ereader technology will very likely mean that writers will always have backlists that people can actually read, and that even the most obscure classic titles can be accessed at the press of a button. I’m even thrilled at the possibilities it presents for self-publishing and the publication of books that may otherwise be too “niche” for a paper print run to be viable, despite believing that the jury is well and truly out on editorial standards of straight-to-ereader titles.

So I’m all for the ereader. I just don’t want to use one.

And I don’t think that’s even because I particularly fetishize the object of the book. I mean, I do love them as beautiful objects—when they are—and I can get a rush of nostalgia from the smell of the pages of old favourites as strong as that I get from walking into a Sunday School hall, or a primary school classroom on a rainy day. I am full of admiration for beautiful book design, and I do think that even if I were an avid ereader, I’d still want beautiful paper editions of books I have loved on my shelves, for the sheer beauty of them, and the weight of ownership that only the physical object can provide.

Because we do have relationships with books. I have written in several places about the important role the children’s fantasy novel, The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones, has played in my life. I often take that book down, sometimes to read my favourite quote from it on its first page (For, as Paolo and Tonino Montana were told over and over again, a spell is the right words delivered in the right way), sometimes just to gaze at the cover and think about how this very object—a mere 191 pages, now heavily foxed—literally changed the direction of my life.

Here’s the cover of the edition I read, and the title page. It’s been signed by Diana, which is another reason to desire the physical book—it has markers not only of ownership and re-readings, but sometimes it is signed by the author, or dedicated by the giver. I’ve yet to hear that anyone has found a satisfactory way of so inscribing an ebook, although no doubt with the way technology gallops ahead of us, signed ebooks will be a reality in no time.

I’m personally not one to write marginalia—I rather wish I were, but I have conniptions at people who dogear pages as place-markers, so the thought of writing in a book thoroughly gives me the willies. But I’m glad OTHER people do, because I love nothing more than coming across a second-hand book, or a book from a university library, where a previous reader or student has left their musings on the contents. (Don’t get me started on those stitched-up, buttoned-down types who make corrections in, or even worse censor library books, though. And I say that as a card-carrying member of the Apostrophe and Punctuation Pedants Club.)

But back to covers. I mention the cover of The Magicians of Caprona specifically, because this particular cover art hugely influenced my reading of the novel. As you’ll see, it has the main characters, Tonino and Angelica, dressed in mediaeval-style clothing. The book is one of Jones’s Chrestomanci series, which deal with the concept of parallel universes. There’s nothing, as far as I know, in the text of Magicians which identifies the flavour of the period of its world as mediaeval, but it will always and forever be that for me because of this cover. I was stunned to find some years after reading it that other cover art suggested other quite different quasi-historical settings for the book, so I basically pretended they didn’t exist, and continue happily on with my vision of the world of this book in line with what the cover art of my edition proposed.

I know that ebooks have copies of the cover art on them, but one of my great joys in reading is flipping back to the cover and absorbing the images, either to enrich my enjoyment of the book, or to puzzle over the disparity between the cover designer’s interpretation and my own. And yes, I guess you can flip back to the cover image in your ereader, but is there really a digital equivalent of keeping your finger stuck in the page you’re up to, so you can flip back and forth—seeing the page and the cover in almost the same instant—just so you can check the cover image against, say, the textual description of the main character? Maybe there is. I confess my ignorance—but I can’t imagine it could possibly be as easily manipulated and controlled as the physical action of flipping around the pages of the physical book.

Same goes for internal images. I’m primarily a reader of fiction, but I also love biography (of which, more later) and I am quite obsessive about flipping back and forth between the text and the photographs of the book’s subject at different stages in their life. Was Rob Lowe really that impossibly handsome even at age 14? Yes he was—and there’s the photo to prove it.

And yes, I know that ebooks have those internal images as well. I did in fact download the ebook of Ransom Riggs’s odd little novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which those of you have read it will know is full of reproductions of the world’s weirdest vintage photographs. So is the ebook. But somehow those photos aren’t anywhere near as creepy on the Kindle on my iPad as they are in the pages of the book. I think the comparison here is the warmth vinyl fans lament as lost in CDs and digital music files. Paper does something to the reproduction that is simply lost in digitisation. And still, and yet again, there’s that browsing and flipping issue that I just can’t get past.

You also can’t collect ebooks. I mean, really, what would my beautiful collection of various editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland look like in e format? My uniform editions of the His Dark Materials trilogy with the gorgeous woodcut cover artwork? My treasured, incomplete set of Ruth Manning-Sanders’ fairy tale collections with the extraordinary Robin Jacques illustrations that take me straight back to the mid 70s and the hours and hours I spent every week in the Auburn Public Library? What would my study look like without my browsable collection of reference books on children’s literature and the craft of writing? My guest bedroom without a wall full of fiction for my guests to enjoy? My bedside table without a tumble-down to-be-read pile?

I’m going to digress here for a moment, although not really, because it’s still about reading and books and the different media they now come in. As I mentioned, I’m primarily a reader of fiction, but I do also love memoir and auto/biography. Of late, I have been listening to the latter on audiobook—but with one important condition. The memoir or autobiography has to be read by the author. It started with Caitlin Moran’s marvellous How to Be a Woman, read outrageously and wonderfully in her broad Wolverhampton accent, and I was utterly won over by the experience, selecting favourite chapters to listen to several times over. (May I recommend Chapter Seven: I Encounter Some Sexism for this purpose. Chapter Fifteen: Abortion is also a remarkable piece of writing, but you may want to keep it for a private moment to listen to: not one for the 7:26am Windsor to Town Hall all stations.) There’s a fabulous intimacy to the experience of having the person whose life it is read you their story. Since my encounter with Moran (my newest feminist and writing hero) I’ve listened to Stephen Fry’s two memoirs, Moab is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles and am, as I write this, halfway through Michael J Fox’s Lucky Man. I listen to them in the car, to avoid depressing radio discussions of Australian politics, and when I’m gardening—so I can do my two favourite weekend things at the same time. I can’t listen to fiction on audio, though. I lose concentration, for some reason, and no matter how marvellous the reader, the voice in my head when I read fiction is mine to make, not an actor’s to impose. The only exception I can make there is for a beloved one to read to me—but I have to be honest and say it’s been many, many years since that happened. Also, magazines—I have no trouble at all with my Vanity Fair iPad subscription—probably because the swiping action so closely resembles that of flipping the pages of a magazine.

So I can enjoy reading in other formats, but only in this very limited fashion. And when it all comes down to it, given I am NOT a Luddite, I can really only explain my disdain for the ebook and my love for the paper version thusly: habit. Sheer force of habit, forged over 44 years of reading and treasuring the book. The experience, and love of reading, is so strongly and completely bound up in holding that physical object for me, that I could no more abandon the book than I could learn how to hold a pen properly (I tuck my thumb in: it’s given me 4 decades of writers’ cramp) or forget the words of The Lord’s Prayer.

I’m not a Luddite. I love my technology. I’m glad for you if your Kindle has allowed you hours of reading after your partner has turned off the bedside lamp, and lightened the load on your carry-on luggage. But don’t ask me to learn to love the ebook. I’m afraid it’s beyond me. Long live the book.

I have known Judith Ridge as someone I often see at conferences and festivals either as a speaker or panelist. I have seen her moderate panels and interview authors and I have been beautiful interviewed by her onstage myself. There is such a world of difference when you are being asked questions and engaged by someone who really, really knows what they are talking about. And Judith does. She has specialised in children’s and young adult literature for 20 years, working as an editor, teacher, community arts coordinator, writer and critic. Judith has also written about children’s and youth literature for journals such as Viewpoint, Magpies, The Horn Book (US) and The Melbourne Age. She has been invited on a number of occasions to speak at conferences and seminars in Australia and the USA. Judith is also a Churchill Fellow and has an MA in children’s literature and she is currently project officer on WestWords: the Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Project. Judith also teaches creative writing, with a focus on writing for children and young adults at the Sydney Writers’ Centre. You can read her marvellous, personable, well informed opinions at Misrule.

32 Responses

    1. Vauny says:

      I think the biggest problem with anti-ebook supporters is that they seem to think that ebooks are going to wipe out print books and thus doom us to a future where we don’t have to read because books are downloaded straight into our brains. Thing is that’s not the issue, I’ve never met an ebook supporter who decrys a print book reader, though every time I mention my kindle I get the same old “don’t you miss the smell and feel of a real book?” which no, no I dont.

      I buy paperbacks and hard cover copies of books and series that I love (Obernewtyn, mistborn, Harry potter and so on) because I want to support the author. I almost see it to be the same as buying DVDs for a movie. It’s not necessarily because I want to watch the movie over and over, it’s because I liked it and want to support the creator.

      Recently I received the latest mistborn novel in print as a gift and even though I enjoyed the book I honestly did find reading it a bit inconvenient after a few years of reading ebooks it was annoying to find space for it in my bag, and it was frustrating that when I fell asleep reading (which is 9 nights out of 10 for me) I would invariably lose my page or rumple the book by sleeping on it. With my kindle the worst that’s happened is that I wake up with a sore face from sleeping on the screen.

      • Emily Craven says:

        I do the same thing Vauny. I will buy the paperback books of authors I love, or books on sale that I wouldn’t mind giving a shot. You will not see me get rid of my books readily. In fact I must confess that I would prefer to buy Greylands as a hard copy because all of my other copies of Isobelle’s books are paperback (I could have sworn I already HAD a copy but for the life of me I can’t find it). But in saying that I also WANT an ebook copy because I know just how easy it is to travel with my tablet.

        I’m always up for beautiful versions of books, but not every book is given the same attention as “Alice in wonderland” so I’m happy to buy the normal volumes as ebooks.

        Oh and Isobelle, thanks for making your ebook a reasonable price! One of my pet hates is when publishers charge the same amount for the e edition as the print edition.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Vauny, I’m just curious about your comment that you buy paper editions of books you love because you want to support the author. Writers still get royalties for ebooks—in fact, for books originating in eformat they generally get more than the standard 10%, so buyers of ebooks are supporting the writers just the same as buyers of traditional books. The problem comes in with people breaking through the Digital Rights Management system to share or even pirate ebooks. As I’m sure you appreciate, the same copyright issues and writers’ rights to an income should be held as dear to us whatever the format of the book!

      • Min Dean says:

        I buy it afterwards because I want to own the object 😛 I went through a classics phase (thanks to an app on my iPhone) that got me interested in Stoker/Wells/Shelley/Austen/Conan-Doyle etc – in a bigger way than I ever had been before. The next time Lifeline Bookfest rolled around, I went on a mission to find copies of all the classics I had read on the train and adored, because I still love and want books 😛

        I think Vauny meant it’s like when you go to the cinema and really love the film; you buy the DVD when it comes out so you are supporting the creator again? That’s the way my partner and I see it.

    2. Deb says:

      Perhaps it is a generational thing. It seems that younger people take to e-readers more readily than those of us who might be a tad older. Of course this is only a generalisation, I have a 70 year old friend who enjoys the e-reader she was given for her last birthday. But I don’t know any young people who would refuse to read on some kind of technology.

      I still print out any reading that I don’t get on paper from uni. It can use a lot of paper, but I still have it all here as reference material and often go back and read the parts I really enjoyed.

      I can’t say that I’ve ever tried audiobooks either, and I keep my (smart) phone for calls and text messages. I use my computer as a computer, my camera as a camera; does this make me a Luddite? maybe.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        I’m sure generational issues are at play, Deb! Yes, I am a Woman of a Certain Age, as is clear from my post, and I am quite sure that if I were 20 years younger I’d have taken to the ebook with great enthusiasm. Thanks for commenting.

      • inez baranay says:

        Hi, am catching up on the great offerings at the wonderful site: just want to comment that in my experience it’s the *older* people who are great ebook/kindle enthusiasts and younger people who insist they must have paper books, that nothing substitutes.

      • I LOVE AUDIO BOOKS!!! It is a whole other experiencing of a book you love and a wonderful way to read heavier stuff you need to concentrate on. Try His Dark Materials in the full cast with PP as narrator and you will be converted. Try The Unconsoled in audio book- Try A Winters Journey! Some of my books are available in this form and I actually read The Red Wind and the Little Fur books myself

      • Emily Craven says:

        I still maintain that there is a Green Monkey Dreams audio book floating out there too Isobelle! I know I listened to it on a road trip when I was younger! It was on tape back then. Have you come across any indie audio book websites Isobelle?

    3. Jo Turner says:

      Awesome post! Loved it! Not that I am against e-readers – because I love mine, but because your discussion is a logical viewpoint that is sometimes forgotten or left on the wayside in the usual pro-con discussions. Sometimes habit just rules any intentions we might have had (and yes I too am a flipper and miss it terribly when I use my e-reader). And here I find another minor coincidence, it happens a lot to me when I find a new book or be given one. A flying visit coincided with me briefly catching up with a cousin whilst overseas (in the wrong country of course) who knew I like to read, offloaded some extra reading baggage on me: How to be a Woman, along with a recommendation for it, and lo: here it comes up again. Something telling me to read it I suspect.
      Now another of Diana’s wonderful books that I must try to dig out and read. My childhood wasn’t with that book – A Tale of Time City and Archer’s Goon were mine. Can I just say how sad I was when I heard she had passed away? Its not been a great few years, where we have lost a few wonderful authors (Anne McCaffrey being another).
      I used to think that audio books were a hideous marketing ploy, and never used them, until I heard Neil Gaiman read “The Graveyard book” (you can hear it for free online from his website). Boy was I wrong, and when I managed to read it myself, I shall never be able to read it without hearing Neil reading it alongside me. That book made many long hours of data manipulation go quickly and sanely.

      • Emily Craven says:

        Tale of Time City was my first two Jo! And how I love that book. My favourite of hers was A Sudden Wild Magic. It is one of my biggest regrets that I never got to meet her.

      • Emily Craven says:

        Le sigh, *too

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Thanks for joining in, Emily, and cheers to another fellow DWJ fan!

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Jo, I think I’d break my rule on not listening to fiction on audio for Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book! Thanks for commenting, and for the DWJ love. Always get a thrill to ‘meet’ other fans.

    4. Harriet says:

      You say ‘I’ve got ereader apps on my iPad and iPhone, but despite that, I just don’t read ebooks’. I’ve had ereader apps since about 2001 when I first got a Palm Pilot – had them on every single smartphone, and also on the office iPad. For one reason or another, they have always been a lesser experience than the print book – too small to be comfortable (Palm Pilot / phone), too big and heavy to be comfortable (iPad), backlit screen too bright, or whatever. They were more portable, and meant I was never again stuck anywhere without a book, and I also liked having a ‘search’ function, but if I had access to the print book, that was the one I read. And I didn’t actually buy much in the way of ebooks – between Project Gutenberg, and Baen Free Books, I wasn’t short of content.

      But then I got a proper e-ink reader (specifically NOT a Kindle, but that’s a rant for another time) and it all changed. I still love print books, and I’ll keep on buying them. And I certainly won’t be getting rid of my painstakingly collected sets of first edition Noel Streatfeild or Lorna Hill, or the matching hardcovers of George R R Martin.

      But where I own both the print and the ebook, I now find that I will actually read the ebook in preference – and I have started buying the ebook versions of particular favourites. The ebook is lighter to carry around, easier to read in bed or on public transport or while eating a meal, and the actual experience of reading the text is no longer inferior to the print version. (Except when the publisher hasn’t bothered to proofread a backlist title that has clearly been converted by OCR – Exhibit A in this regard is E. L. Konigsberg’s Father’s Arcane Daughter, but it’s not the only offender.)

      It also means that I can experiment with new authors, but don’t have to give them shelf space if I don’t like them (since I find it very difficult to get rid of a book, even if I hate it). Yes, the library is also a good tool here, but sometimes a book I want to try isn’t in the library.

      Of course, covers are a downside, since e-ink is still black and white only. But it’s not like I can’t see it in colour if I want to (on the computer, the phone, the iPad, or the print copy if I have it). And to be honest I’m not really a visual person – I like it when a book has a nice cover, but it doesn’t really matter to me as much as it seems to you, Judith. (Though regarding your question of flipping between cover and text, I’m pretty sure at least some readers/apps make this easy.)

      I think the biggest negative for me is lending books – or rather, the fact that you can’t, unless the book is DRM-free (or you rip off the DRM). And I’m also a little uncomfortable with the fact that if I do lend a paid-for-but-DRM-free book to someone, and they like it, they don’t then have an incentive to buy it themselves, because they already have it. If it was a physical book, they’d have to give it back at some point, but a copy of an ebook is exactly the same as the original.

      • Vauny says:

        I know exactly what you mean Harriet, I’ve come across a number of ebooks which has some dodgy text. They’re still my preference because of the convenience though.

        I also hear you on the “lending” front, I’ve had some good ebooks that I’ve recommended to people only to have them go: oh ebook 🙁
        Though amazon sort of works around this by letting you download a sample of the book, so if you enjoy the sample you then have to buy to finish it. But still… it’s not the same

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Hey Harriet. Thanks for offering your thoughts—fascinating and insightful, as always! I admit I know next to nothing about the different quality of ereader formats that you describe here (an e-ink reader? Who knew?!) And you make some really valid points about experimenting with a new author, without dedicating precious shelf space! Thanks for stopping by—time we caught up soon?!

      • Harriet, the lending problem can be frustrating and not as easily adapted to as with DRM on music (we can still burn CDs). On the other hand, the difficulty of lending eBooks might be good for authors, and another point in the argument for why eBooks should be cheaper than printed books.
        I do miss giving my books away. If I gave a printed book to someone, I usually told them to pass it on to someone else who will enjoy it once they’ve read it. It’s not quite the same to email someone a link to an eBook!

      • Oh I hate it when they don’t proofread and the e version is full of weird errors- in a lot of Ursula Le Guin’s backlist, ‘the’ comes up as ‘die’ SO annoying. Mind you it does not stop me reading- and I can get books of hers and Sheri S Tepper’s that are out of print in e form. That is one of the things I love most about the whole eVolution. And like you, Harriet, I tend to rebuy favourite books in e form to carry round with me, just in case I should want to dip into them- it is also a nice way to recommend a book- ‘Here have a look at the first page or two…’

      • Deb says:

        Having just re-read a couple of Tepper books, and other old favourites, I must admit that it sounds intriguing to be able to take them all along on a trip to ‘dip into’. My luggage usually consists of some clothing and lots of books. This e-book thing might interest me yet.

      • Heather Giles says:

        Deb, I was given a kindle and I love it for taking on trips and for reading in bed when I don’t want to hold a heavy book but it will never replace an actual book for me. So yes I think each has its place.

      • Deb says:

        I’m actually amazed that no-one has given me an e-reader. All my family know that I’m a book worm, and I often get books as gifts, but no e-reader. Might have to be my Christmas gift to myself this year.

    5. Maureen says:

      This post sums it all up perfectly for me. It IS impossible for me to fully welcome the ebook simply because all of my formative reading memories are based around holding physical books. All of my childhood memories are based around me holding them, touching them, smelling them, other people holding them, and storing them on shelves for me to browse. I love books and I’ve grown up valuing them as physical things. It’s a hard habit to break.

      I want to be able to see a book’s cover in all of its glory of design. I want to be able to flick through pages for my favourite quotes and moments and to refresh my memory. I want to be able to pick up books and flick through them to see if they interest me. I want to make my own personal library formed of my own collected books which can be stacked on a table and quantified. I want to have books signed by author’s, and hand written with messages from family, friends and creators. (An aside: one of the best gifts I ever got a friend, was a copy of Lyra’s Oxford provided by Pullman himself, signed with a message to my friend by him. I wrote on the inside cover with my own personal message. Now you can’t do THAT with an ebook). I want to be able to smell those pages.

      I don’t want to be overwhelmed by so much reading choice that I don’t even know where to start looking. I don’t want to spend an age trying to figure out how to get back to the start of an ebook, or to the end, or to a specific page number. I don’t want to see a black and white cover. I don’t want a collection stored in kindle cyberspace which can be deleted by amazon at any moment.

      I want to use my kindle. I appreciate the way it conveniences reading. I appreciate that I read more with it, and take more chances on authors with it. I love audiobooks for long trips in the car, and for boring household chore time. I love hearing voice actors read and bring a story to life. Both HitchhikersGuide to the Galaxy and Artemis Fowl: The Artic Incident, I never read as physical books. Both of those audio cd’s are precious to me and I will be very mad if you take them away. I like new creative mediums. I like to experiment.

      But I always come back to the physical print book every time. It has the special place in my heart. And, like Judith, I am not a Luddite.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Thanks for the reply, Maureen! And browsing—I forgot to mention browsing, so thanks for bringing it up! Cheers.

    6. Daniel says:

      I 100% agree! I share all the same sentiments. I’m not a technophobe, but for me I don’t think I’ll ever be won over by e-books. There’s just something like reading a physical book that can’t be matched. And the benefits of owning a book and being able to display them, and having attachments and memories of the books, outweigh the convenience of e-books.

      I also am one who could never bring myself to write in a book, it’s almost sacrilegious to me. But it is always exciting when you come across a book with notes and comments written by someone else, it provides an insight into the book from the eyes of someone else. And getting a book signed is of course a whole other story (I’ve never had a book signed, so I’m not sure what it’s like. Maybe one day.)

      Deb, I have to say I’m a young person, and I would personally prefer to read physical books. So if I was given the choice to read an e-book or a real book, I’d always choose the real book. I’ve tried to read some books on a computer, but I disliked the experience too much, for it to become something I’d frequently do. Reading on a screen (not sure about the non-backlit ones) tends to be physically uncomfortable after a long time. And I much prefer holding the book, turning the pages and being able to litter them around the house. I have no plans to buy an e-reader though I can see the attraction to them and could always be converted in the future as technology changes. Maybe it’s just a habit, but I see this habit continuing for a long while.

      Everyone makes such good points. Vauny and Emily, I too, tend to buy books so I can show my support, otherwise I’m happy to use a library (though if money wasn’t an issue, I’d buy every book possible!) to get a reading fix. And Harriet, I also share your issue with not being able to share e-books like real books. I think sharing a literary experience with someone is a gift, and if you can share your own books with someone, you get pleasure in being able to bring that magic to someone else.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Ah, Daniel, I am sure there are many signed books in your future! And many owned books, too. I remember back to my early years out of university when I lived in a 2 room bedsit, and I had but one shelf above my bed for books. Now I own several thousand. Book lust, they call it! Thank you for stopping by and giving your perspective.

      • Judith Ridge says:

        Several thousand BOOKS, not bookshelves. *sigh*

    7. Min Dean says:

      I’m with Vauny & Emily on still wanting to own the physical book after reading the e-version. 

      In the end nobody can make anyone like or hate a medium if they really don’t want to like it. I think there is beauty in the eBook form, and perhaps it’s because I create digital content too, so I know how tricky it can be and that a real-live human crafted it to be in that form. Talking of e-covers – there was a gorgeous set released recently for all of Octavia Butler’s books: http://m.io9.com/5924507/an-exclusive-first-look-at-the-gorgeous-new-covers-to-all-of-octavia-butlers-books

      If I put aside all my wishy-washy preciousness, though, I think the *real* reason I’m fine with eBooks is because they fulfill a need. They now have a real and positive purpose in my life. 
      They do not replace books, and that’s not what I intended them to do when I started using them. My intention was to find an easier way to read on the peak-hour hell they call commuting in Brisbane – when you have to grab onto a rail and hold on for dear life. But that commuting time is the only *down* time I get. I don’t want to just stare at other commuters – I want to use my time. EBooks allow me to do that. 
      Audio books crept into your life in the same way when you saw a need for something good to listen to in the car or while gardening; whereas I’ve never been a fan of audiobooks (because clearly, I just don’t need them yet). 

      So unless you have that real need in your life to explore the medium of eBooks, I can see why you wouldn’t. Lucky you, lol. Spend a month in my life, with my schedule, and see if you don’t change your mind and find them more useful than you thought (…and I reiterate – not to replace books!).

      • Reflecting on this post, I find that eBooks have almost completely replaced paper books for me now. I’m probably invested in digital more than most readers though… I used to love paper newspapers, but living in a remote area trained me to read online and now I’m more demanding of up to date news.
        The only time when I really engage with printed books is reading children’s books with my nephews, older historical works and of course Australian books, which I always find hard to get in eBook form (or ridiculously expensive in digital or much cheaper in paper form). It’s disappointing, but I’m reading a lot less Australian fiction because of the difficulty of obtaining Australian eBooks… Not to mention how annoying it is to see an Australian author’s book available in the US but not in Australia.

      • Min Dean says:

        I find newspapers are just more full of advertising than anything these days. I actively avoid the free MX they give out at the train station because I don’t want to be advertised to death.

        Is it silly of me to admit that if I want local news, I go straight to twitter? If you’re an xkcd fan you may have seen this comic, that parodies the speed at which news travels on twitter. Most of it is junk, to be sure – but if you want something specific – if you’re going ‘what is that noise outside in the city’ – twitter will tell you 😛

        Australian eBooks will ramp up over time. We just have to play the waiting game.

      • Not silly at all- Newspapers are so horribly biased much of the time now, because of who owns them and fear that they are now outdated, hence anything to grab a headline- but also and mostly, because facebook and twitter are not mediums that are ‘owned’ by anyone, in the sense that they are going to be censored. I have read things all over twitterspace which were simply not mentioned at all in print newspapers or on tv. Long live free cyberspace!

      • inez baranay says:

        Yes, what you said Isobelle … i’m very optimistic about freedom and truth flourishing and winning in cyberspace.
        Fabulous site, i’ve been immersed in novel writing so not spent much time here but trying to catch up now.
        Spose comments this far down and late get lost … oh well
        Me huge ebook fan having lost my collection of books in a fire plus always moving moving moving.
        Always have paper books around, gladly, but for a library, that fits into a handbag now, so good