Ebook Sales Are Down: It’s My Fault

person-reading-on-ipad

Well, not really.  But I am one of those people who’s not reading as many ebooks as before.  The thrill is gone.

In the beginning I was excited to download books instantly whenever, wherever.  Forget two-day delivery with Amazon Prime.  If I wanted a book on my iPad at 3 AM, voilà–and the font and page color could even be adjusted.  How cool was that?

But then the books started massing and I lost track of how many there were, unlike being able to see and sort the TBR pile in my study. I know, not a problem the Pope had to address at the UN, but still–

tbr-piles

Then I noticed that far too many ebooks, from all sorts of publishers, seemed badly proofread, if at all.  Spacing was off, typos were bizarre, sometimes whole sections or chapters were in italics.  As an author and reviewer, I know errors creep into books, but this was a level of sloppiness that felt new to me.

Dealing with insomnia after a car accident, one solution recommended by experts was to avoid e-readers (and laptop or PC screens) at night because of the light, so that forced me to cut down.

ipadreader

But I had found myself drifting away from ebooks anyway by that point.  I’m an extrovert and can be easily distracted.  I turn to reading as a form of meditation. I want to be completely lost, mesmerized by storytelling whatever the genre.  Holding a device where I can check my email or the news can break the spell.

More than that, I still enjoy the physical feel of an open book in my hands, especially a hardcover.  I relish the sensuous experience of turning the page, marking passages I enjoy, making notes, comparing pages–things that are totally different experiences with ebooks.

However, I rely on ebooks for trips at home and abroad.  Back in the day, I could never decide what exactly to take with me and either packed too many books or the wrong ones.  That never happens anymore.  And if it somehow does and there’s absolutely nothing that interests me left on my iPad, I can still browse wherever I am.

If the WiFi is good.

So what about you?  Are you reading more ebooks than you used to?  Are you reading fewer?  Or about the same?  Why?

Lev Raphael is the author of The Edith Wharton Murders and 24 other books in genres from memoir to horror.

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6 Responses

  1. I love having the choice. As you say, you can’t beat the convenience, but for a real reading experience with my favorite authors, I choose a hardback. Maybe it will be different for the Digital Native generation, like my grandchildren/nieces, the youngest of whom swipes any text she sees.

  2. Camille, I would have said the same thing about my students….

  3. I love real books, and I like to make notes in them and make them my own. But if I don’t know whether or not I’ll like a book, and if it’s cheap, then I’ll buy an ebook. I like to mark up those as well. But somehow, every once in a while, all my previous comments and underlining will be erased from an ebook I’m reading. So anything I really want to go back to I’ll buy in hard copy.

    • The problem is, you can’t mark up an ebook like a physical book, writing up and down the margins, and between the lines, etc. It feels cold and impersonal.

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