An ebook is still a book (rinse and repeat)
So this is my stand now: If you read it, then it’s a book. Maybe it has hard covers and a dust jacket, or it’s 6 x 9 with cream colored paper, or it’s tiny and fits in my bag, or it’s large font on my e-ink reader, or it’s reflowable on my iPad… if I read it, then it’s a book.
(Arguable: if I listen to it in the car, is it a book? But that’s another discussion.)
As a reader, I get to decide which format and edition works best for me. I used to prefer trade paperbacks, but now that I’ve got an active toddler at home, I never have two hands free to read them. I recently received the hardcover of The Scorpio Races from the people at the Filipino Readercon, but my reading progress was so slow because I can only really read it at home, and when my daughter’s asleep.
And then one day I just said, why am I dragging my feet on this? I like the story, I’m really enjoying it, and want to read as much of it as I can. Why wait? So I got the ebook version, and now I’m reading it on my iPad outside, after work, as I grab a bite before heading home, on the cab line, and even at home, when my daughter’s fast asleep and the lights are out. No delays.
Last night, while the iPad was charging up, I read twenty-five pages using the hardcover edition.
I understand why some readers feel that there are sides and they have to choose one, because they’re being asked to pay twice, and usually the costs are competitively similar. But I hope they eventually realize that there are no sides, and that maybe in the future, purchasing one edition (maybe with a premium) allows a buyer access to all formats.
I was asked my opinion on this topic recently on the Facebook group of the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines, and I said something like: Writers very rarely get a say in how their book looks and feels. So loving the physical book, its pages, its cover, the font, the smell — that is a bond made with the printer and publisher, rather than the writer.
As a reader, you choose the format that allows you to best enjoy the book.
As a publisher, you make sure that your books are available in all formats the readers want, and at the cost they’re willing to pay.
As a writer, you appreciate and reward the people who enjoy your work and follow your career in whatever format your work appears in.
So anyway. I just wanted to say that an ebook is a book is a book. And if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go back to reading The Scorpio Races (on hardcover) while my daughter’s still asleep.