The printed book lives on … or does it?

And just when we thought that eBooks were going to take over the world, the news of at least two authors who are sticking with the printed book. Richard Russo and Stephen King have both promised that their next novels are not going to be offered electronically. In King’s case, he adds “for the time being” which sort of implies that he hasn’t closed the door on the idea.

Russo says he wants to support the traditional bookstore model and the notion of local buying; so his next novel, a collaboration between himself and his daughter, is going to be published by a publishing house located in his hometown. Both Russo and King state that eBooks alone aren’t enough and King goes as far as to say that “readers don’t regard electronic books as real books”.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me, the reading is primarily about the words and secondarily about the medium those words are delivered to me. I am not sure I care whether the book is available in print or not, so long as I can afford it either way. In fact, I am likely to opt for the electronic book for the main reason of its portability. I also like to consider myself a reader, so I am a little offended at these allegations.

I’m not too offended to admit, however, that when a book is really good, I want to keep it in print on my bookshelf – even if I never pick it up to read. This is why a copy of Leon Uris’ Exodus now sits on my bookshelf, unopened and unread. A very old and torn copy of Exodus was one of the books on my parents’ bookshelf growing up and I remember the story with such fondness and respect that I bought my own copy just to keep. I’ve read the novel at least twice, yet my own copy has never, itself, been read. This is the value of a really good book to me. Nevertheless, I am likely to purchase the Kindle version anyway so when I want to read it that third time, it is always with me (because my Kindle is always with me).

Having read both those news articles, and knowing my own habits and tastes, I am curious: how many of you agree with Russo and King and also think that an electronic book is “not a real book”?

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