Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weight of a Book

I got an ereader a few months ago, after several months of swinging back and forth on the issue. I love the experience of reading. I love curling up in my reading spot, holding the weight of a book in my hands, and turning the pages. I thought an ereader would somehow diminish the experience.

I will admit, reading the first ebook I purchased was an odd experience. I curled up in my reading spot and tried to get comfortable holding the Nook instead of a book. It took a bit and once I did, sliding my finger across the screen instead of turning the pages was odd. (I have a Nook Simple Touch) But by the time I started on the second ebook, I was hooked.

And now I'm going to touch upon a very contentious issue: pricing. I see people griping all the time about it and I find it puzzling. Yes, when you buy a physical book, you get the paper and the cover, but what you're really paying for is the story within, right?

Yes, the ebook lives inside the Nook and not on the shelf, but the story itself? That lives in my head. Whether I read the paper book or the ebook, I am reading the same words, the same story, created by the author. I can reread them time and again, just as I can with a paper book.

So what's more important? The paper and the cover or the story?

The story is what I'm purchasing, no matter the format. I am purchasing someone's long hours at the keyboard or the typewriter or with a pen and paper. I'm purchasing their dreams and nightmares turned into syllables and sentences. I'm purchasing concepts and ideas created from the word machine in the author's head.

That's the true weight, the true gift, of a book and, in my opinion, it's priceless.


Denise Tompkins said...

Gorgeous, insightful post. I love the point that you're purchasing the story either way. It's not about buying only the cover. After all, you get the same cover with the e-reader. And it's not about production costs or anything else. It's about buying into the entertainment, buying into another world, and getting lost there with a personal guide -- the author and her characters.

I'd rather pay $10 for a book than $12 for a movie that requires a $6 soda and $6 popcorn. The book's return is so much stronger and longer. :)

Great points! And yay for the Nook!

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Thank you for reading and commenting, Denise. Yes, I truly do feel like people are forgetting about the story in their price arguments. It makes me a little sad and a little confused.

I love my Nook (a.k.a. Dr. Read). Love, love, love it!

Josin L. McQuein said...

I hate that when you upload a book to Kindle (keyboard version), you can't look at the pretty cover. I'm a little odd, I know, but I like to see if the book actually fits the cover (or vice versa).

The value in the e-reader to me is that where I live, there are NO bookstores. I have to drive miles to even get to a Half-Price Books, and hope that they have something I'm looking for. Our "local" library is the school library, and while people are allowed to go in and get books, no one wants to be the weird adult going through shelves at the school. The next closest library is as far off as that Half-Price book store.

With Amazon (or B&N if I had a nook) I can get books when they come out, and there's no question of their availability. I had put off getting an e-reader, but last year I won one, and was so relieved to discover that e-ink has no negative effect on my vision the way backlit screens tend to. If they can make a color e-ink screen I will be a very happy reader.

However, I still give physical gifts as books. Thankfully, our closest Wal-Mart had some paperbacks out for me to snag last night when word of an unexpected teen guest for Christmas came through. You can't wrap an e-book for someone to tear open Christmas morning.

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Josin, thank you for stopping by and for your comments. I'm sorry you don't have any brick and mortar stores closer to you.

I love that I can buy ebooks from the convenience of my sofa at three in the morning if I wish. And yes, I still buy physical copies of books, too, for myself and others.

I wouldn't be surprised if eventually they allow you to buy ebooks for others, similar to buying a gift certificate, but the ebook itself would be attached to the certificate or some such like that. :)

AnthonyJRapino said...

This was a beautiful post. Such a wonderful way at looking at it too! :-) I'm not one to argue about pricing, but just to play devil's advocate:

I'd consider the price of a physical book is partly due to the things you can do with it that you can't necessarily do with an ebook. For instance if I want to sell a used book, or give it away to my library for a library sale. Or if I want to loan it to a friend (though I understand this is something you can do with Kindle now, but of course requires your friend also own a kindle).

Still, in place of those things, the ebook affords you with other "pros" such as convenience (in all areas).

:-) As for me, I'll continue to buy both ebooks as well as physical books.

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Thank you, Anthony! Yes, I totally agree with you. You can't quite donate an ebook. Yet.

I, too, will continue to buy in both formats. I have several favorite authors with dedicated shelf space and that will not change, although I may also purchase ebook copies of their work to help protect the physical copies from excess wear.