Straight Talk about Ebooks & Dinosaurs

I haven’t seen anything official but news is flapping around the Internet about Dorchester Publishing’s decision to produce only digital books from here on out. This follows on the heels of the company being “dis-invited” to the Romance Writers of America conference in late July.

It all makes me sad.

I am a dinosaur. I don’t own a Kindle or iPad or Nook. Everytime I’ve gone to look at an e-reader, I think how many “real” books I could buy with all that money and I walk away.

And there’s the crux of the matter. E-books still don’t feel like real books to me. In theory, they’re real books. I have friends who’ve published e-books and their launches are just as exciting and fun. My head knows that digital publishing has opened the doors to a lot of authors and stories that might not have found a public otherwise–books that deserve to have a publisher.

But e-books still feel like the stepsisters of print books to me. The first thing I thought when I heard the launch date on my first novel had been pushed to April 2012 was, “OMG. They’ll only release it as an e-book. By 2012, there might not be any real books produced by new authors.” My parents weren’t readers, but I grew up in libraries and bookstores, inhaling ink and glue and paper. The smell of a new book is comforting to me. As an author I want my name on something tangible that smells of ink and glue.

Can a dinosaur like me change? Can I come to accept eBooks as “real” books? If my books only come out in e-form, will I be as excited about them? If there’s not a print book sale to reach for, will I quit reaching?

In the end, I guess all I can do as a writer is keep writing, and let the market do what the market does. And if my books end up in only digital form, then I’ll still be excited about having people read them. I’ll try not to feel nostalgic.

It may be that books end up going the way of music. I’m a music junkie, and I used to buy vinyl LPs. I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 albums. Now, I have none. I sold them on eBay, sold them at yardsales, stored a bunch in a friend’s attic. But I have tons of music–all digital. I burn CDs for the car, frequently reload the iPod, live half my life with earbuds plugged into my ears. i-freakin-tunes should be paying me by now.

Stores still sell CDs, but who buys them? Well, older folks who don’t do digital. And that may well be the fate of the printed book, as us dinosaurs die off and the eGeneration takes over.

eReaders: The War is On

Amazon fired the latest volley with the “Kindle for PC” (Mac coming soon), the free Kindle reader for your desktop. The idea being, of course, that you’ll now rush out and buy lots of inexpensive Kindle-centric eBooks from Amazon and will follow that with the purchase of a real Kindle.

Then, naturally, you won’t feel tempted to rush out and buy the iPad and shop for eBooks from Apple.

So, I downloaded my free Kindle for PC but–call me old-fashioned (because if you call me “old” I’ll have to kill you)–I still want pages, and paper, and ink, and that new book smell, and even that old book smell.

Plus, I don’t need another screen to get scratched up unless I baby it.

On a related note, I got an e-mail “catalog” from a “bookseller” who can sell me a pdf copy of any urban fantasy title out there for $1 or $2 each. All under the table of course. As an author, I’m highly offended. Do I trash it or report the seller to the piracy police?