I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past few days since I started this blog about how often I’ll be posting. Some blogs post daily, some once in a while. I haven’t posted in my other blog–Anything But Falafels–in a while, but am totally getting to it.
For this one…I think it’s important to post regularly in an effort to develop my audience–and to keep myself accountable and motivated. So I’m going to try to post daily, even if it’s something quick. Like today.
When eBooks first became a thing, I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I’m one of those guys who loves spending time in bookstores and libraries. Ask my wife; we go in, I won’t come out for hours. I love the smell of books, I love the way books feel, I love the heft of them in my hands. For probably close to two decades, I haven’t left the house without a book.
So my first thought–shared by many, I’m sure–about eBooks was “why on earth would you want to carry another electronic gizmo in place of an honest to goodness book?” And for years, I stubbornly refused to get into the tech.
But it started creeping under my skin. It started with .pdf files and smartphones. I work at a job that requires extensive knowledge of certain laws and policies pertaining to liquor service, and have the Tome itself on a bookshelf in my office. When I heard I could get it on my phone–and search for text, highlight text, and save changes, all on the go–I was intrigued. A phone isn’t an ideal platform for this sort of thing, but it showed me the potential–and it’s a slippery slope from there. A year or so later, I bought my first Kobo, and was an instant convert. I still read “real books,” but the convenience of having them all with me at once is indispensable.
You see, I’m a collector of books–between digital and hard copies, probably over 500 and counting. I love to research things, so having a digital library at my fingertips is a great idea. Being able to compare translations of the Tao te Ching or highlight passages in books that give me ideas for stories or other things to research, or making notes within the text to draw comparisons from one text to another; all of this is very exciting to me. Time was I could only do this at the library, having requisitioned a bank of desks to myself, piled to the rafters with books, spending eight or ten hours by myself in a dusty corner. Now it’s all in the palm of my hand.
Another thing I love about Kobo is that it’s easy to explore. Browsing is one of my favourite bookstore or library activities; you never know what you’ll find by scouring the racks. Online it’s different; you have to have a place to start, and often you won’t get too much further from where you already are. But algorithms for suggesting new books are improving. With the option to Preview books from the Kobo store, you can even try out dozens of titles for fee and only buy the ones that interest you…kind of like checking them out of the library.
The technology isn’t perfect. pdf files don’t display very well on my Kobo. Sometimes the pages don’t turn, or turn more than I intend. The Preview feature is sometimes useless, because the only pages previewed end up being the copyright and Table of Contents. But the technology is growing fast–and so is the base of readers using it, not to mention the huge number of people writing specifically for the eBook market. Which is exactly why I’m here, isn’t it?
So what are your experiences and opinions on eBooks? Hurting the publishing industry? The next new fad, only to fade? Wave of the future, one step away from downloading text directly to our brain (how cool will that be)?
Next week we’re going to kick off a feature: Writer’s Tools. I’m going to try to post five articles, each featuring a different tool that writers can use to hone their craft. Because, after all, you can’t publish anything if you have nothing to publish. Stay tuned, and have a great weekend!