Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing Pet Peeves: An E-book Is a Real Book by Katie L. Carroll

My YA fantasy Elixir Bound will be coming out in paperback later this year, but it's already a book...a real book. It's been out as an e-book since last August. But I know some readers are still confused about whether or not an e-book is a real book. Here's my response to a question I received from one such concerned reader.

"DEAR WRITER: I am a young-at-heart reader.
Some of my friends say an e-book isn't a book at all.
Daddy says, 'If you see it on the Internet it must be so.'
Please tell me the truth; is an e-book a real book?"


READER, your friends are wrong. They are stuck in an ancient world. They cannot adapt with the times and long for the days when oral storytelling was the main form of sharing tales. Human nature dictates they fight against any form of change or evolution.

Yes, READER, an e-book is a real book. It is as much a book as a song played on an iPod is real music or verse scribbled on a bathroom wall is a real poem. A print book is not a book itself, not if you take a look at all the definitions of the word. "Book" is a noun, a verb, an adjective. It can be a set of matches or a record of bets. It can be making a reservation or entering an official charge against a criminal. It can describe a department in a store.

An e-book not a book! Do your friends also not believe in magic? Magic is having hundreds of stories at your fingertips with one click of a button. It's escaping into a world you never experienced on this plane of existence, whether historical, realistic, or fantastical. It's feeling a character is so real you mourn their loss when the story ends.

No, you can't physically flip an e-book's pages or smell its moldering pages, but none of that makes a book. The words are the important part. They are woven together into sentences and paragraphs that can bring a story to life in your mind. Therein lies the power of a book, the divine communication between writer and reader to create. No need for paper and ink and bindings.

You can try and fathom what form a book will take in the future, but the form is not the thing. A million years from now a print book, an e-book, a feed directly into your brain, they will all be real books. Care not about how you get the story, care about getting it. Read print books, read e-books. Just read. Fill yourself with the knowledge, emotions, fun, love that is a good book and you will have a rich life indeed.

Katie L. Carroll is an author, editor, and mother. She began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. Her YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND is available on the MuseItUp bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers. Her picture book app THE BEDTIME KNIGHT, illustrated by Erika Baird, is available from MeeGenius. For more about Katie and her books, visit her website at or find her on Facebook and Goodreads.


Unknown said...

Interesting points. I admit, I enjoy the smell of 'the' books and the feel of my old fave in my hands. I'm not a real fan of ebooks, (I'm also not a fan of computers, lol) but I know everything evolves and as a reader, well, I will evolve to. :-)

From the writers point...if it wasn't for ebooks who knows what the past couple of years would be. I have to explain it pretty much the way you did. Ebooks are books, they've just evolved in this tech age we live in. :-) I'm going to share this with friends and family who still think/believe ebooks aren't 'real' books.

Pat McDermott said...

Timely post, Katie. Love the message: Just read. The vehicle doesn't matter. I never thought I'd enjoy my Kindle, but once I got the hang of it, I get lost in e-books just as easily as I do in print books. It's the story that counts.

Katie L. Carroll said...

Alix, I love the feel and smell of print books too, but that hasn't stopped me from embracing ebooks as well. The convenience of having so many books on one device and so many ways to read books is truly wonderful.

Thanks, Pat. I even find myself reading on my phone a lot, which I never thought I would do.

Unknown said...

Great post, Katie!

I have to say, I love e-books as much as I love paper books, maybe even more, as I don't have to worry about where I'm going to store them in my house!

Sherry said...

Saving this one for the next time someone says, "But it's not a real book, and watching my own language for saying it's not a real book." My one problem, people want me to sign my book --and I haven't figured out how to sign a kindle without causing vandalism.

Katie L. Carroll said...

Hi, Mary! E-books are such a great space saver.

Sherry, have your checked out Authorgraph (you can just google it). It's a way to "sign" e-books without the vandalism! I also have bookmarks for Elixir Bound that I sign and give to people. Not quite the same as a book, but it's a fun memento.

anne stenhouse said...

Very well said, Katie. My book doesn't 'launch' until May and I'm already embroiled in discussions about how people will buy it. I think the idea of paper being 'real' will linger a long time, but there's room for both and it is the reading that's important. Anne

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post, Katie. I was dubious when I first started using my Kindle, but now I love it. I never have to worry if I'm going to run out of things to read on a train journey now! And no more carting piles of books on holiday. I could never part with my favourite print books, though.

Katie L. Carroll said...

Congrats on your book coming out in May, Anne! How exciting! I agree there's room for both paper and digital books.

Thanks, Helena. It actually took me awhile to start reading on my Nook when I first got it, but now I'm hooked. I have a large collection of signed print books that are very special to me.

Mirka Breen said...

You make very good points, Katie. But I should add that I am so happy Elixir Bound will be out in paper also. I am one still stuck in that ancient world (no, I don't read scrolls...) and read your *book* on my PC, not the best experience. The book, however, is excellent. I'll be happy to own a paper copy.

Meradeth Houston said...

Amen! I'm just stopping by to say I totally agree with you!

Marsha said...

Gosh, Katie, you really said this well. I'll definitely keep it as a reminder to ffolks who ask. My first book comes out this summer,and I do have some older friends who I know want to read it, but they don't have e-readers. They'll need the print version. I have to say, I only got my Nook so I could support some chaptermates who had e-books coming out. I love it for many of the reasons mentioned, but primarily because I never have to strain to see those magical words. Thanks for the spirited defense of e-books as "real" books. Definitely sharing this post.

Katie L. Carroll said...

Mirka, I very much appreciate you reading Elixir Bound on your computer. I have to say, I will be very happy to own it in paperback too!

Hi, Meradeth! Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, Marsha. Such a good point about how you can make the font bigger in e-readers...definitely something for those with "older" eyes to think about. And you don't need an e-reader to read an e-book. The Muse offers PDF versions, which can read on any computer with Adobe, and you can also download for free the Kindle or Nook app and read those versions on your computer. :)

Ann Herrick said...

We have hardcover books, paperbacks, audio books and now ebooks. Admittedly, it is MUCH easier to read an ebook if you have an ereader. I doubt I would read one on my computer.
I love my Kindle and love being able to download a book in a minute any time of day or night.
That said, I still also read (and purchase) print books.
It's great to have a choice!

Leona~Author said...

Hi Katie, I enjoyed your post. I have the Kindle app on my computer and I love the ease of downloading and reading ebooks. I read so much more since I'm able to choose books without leaving home.

My novel's tentative release is set for August. My family and friends will buy the ebook, but many want their hands on a print copy. My daughter said she wants to be able to hold a book up and say, "Hey, my mom wrote this book."

Wendy said...

I agree with you Katie, ebooks are real books, but my family and friends don't read ebooks. They are still waiting for my book 'to come out'. Then they'll come to my launch party and buy it, and a couple of reviewers want the print book too. So, talk of print books makes me sad, but I'm very happy for you that yours is coming out soon.

To finish writing a novel is a huge achievement, having a publisher take an interest in it is awesome. To have editors help you polish it and a cover artist to create a wonderful cover for it turns your manuscript into a real book whether ebook or print.

Yanting Gueh said...

Hello Katie, I'm stopping by from Blue Boards. Was quite surprised to learn readers are still asking this question. I read printed books (and several ebooks) and publish in e-format, and I love both routes to the story market!

Katie L. Carroll said...

Ann, you're so right about how great it is to have so many options when reading a book. One other think I love about e-books is how often they go on sale for pretty low price points.

Hi, Leona! Good luck with you upcoming release. I found once I changed my own mindset (as in not letting myself think of my books as just an e-book, what other people said didn't bother me so much.

Wendy, it is such an accomplishment to have written a book and going through the process of having it published. Just think, when e-books are the norm, we'll be thought of as the authors who were in on it at the beginning. :)

Hi, Claudine! Nice to see that you found this post on the blue boards (love the kidlit community there). I am always amazed at how many readers still don't read e-books. All things in publishing take time! I think more and more readers are discovering e-books everyday.