Saturday, 19 May 2012

Printed Novels Versus E-Reader


I own a Kindle. Yet I have to admit, when I first started to hear about e-readers, I was totally against the idea. I thought it couldn’t parallel the printed novel, that it would be a short-lasting trend; eventually I came around the idea of e-readers. I started to think that actually, they weren’t all that bad. A novel is a novel, no matter if you read it on Kindle or in a published form. 

But I called this premise into question this weekend. Looking at the bestsellers on my Kindle, I saw that the Game of Thrones series was making quite an impact; this was to be expected considering the new release of the TV series. Admittedly, I had no idea what it was about, only that I’d heard about it and the Amazon blurb sounded good. So, I downloaded a Kindle sample. 

The Kindle sample was amazing! Not only did Game of Thrones did give me a new series to pursue, but it meant I could fulfil my need for fantasy considering the gap Bitterblue left. However, I did not buy the Kindle version – instead, despite the similar nature in price, I went and bought the book.
So why did I choose the published novel over the Kindle version? 

Firstly, it should be noted that Game of Thrones is a rather large book. When I say rather large, I mean it’s just shy of eight hundred pages long, with average type. I think there’s a certain, distinct pleasure to be had from reading a large book, and seeing how far along you’re in. It’s that little moment of wow, I can read a lot! Also, it gives you a general idea of where you are in the book, and how long until the end. 

Although the Kindle has a function which allows you to see how far along in you are, I find with longer books this feature irks me. I end up getting distracted from what I’m reading to think have I only read 2%? I know this is irrational and stupid. But there is something about reading a large printed novel which is far more satisfying as a reader than when on a Kindle. 

Another aspect is price. I’m a student. The majority of us aren’t exactly dripping with money. So when the Kindle price is £3.99, and the Tesco price is £3.86, the Budget Alarm in my mind starts whirring. Honestly, I would much rather have the novel, not only because of it’s length, but because a part of me asks: what’s the point of paying an extra thirteen pence for an electronic copy when I could have the book itself? Unless there was a significant difference in price between the physical copy and the electronic copy (I realise Tesco have subsidised massively on the print copy, oh corporate fiends!), I would always go for the printed version. 

Another reason would be my personal taste. If I feel like this is going to be a book I’m going to read more than once, then I would much rather get it as a physical copy. I want to be able to thumb through the pages and remember the story on a whim – I can’t do that on a Kindle copy. No matter how advanced e-readers get, they will never truly match that reader’s pleasure of flicking through pages of a book long ago read. 

Finally, there’s the aspect of it being a series. Although I have got series on my Kindle, the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White for example, I would much rather have a whole series in physical form. I suppose it’s simply tradition, old habit. But nevertheless, I would much rather own a series in paperback than on Kindle. Also, one of the disadvantages of owning the Paranormalcy series on Kindle is that I don’t get to stare in awe at the beautiful covers. Which is exceptionally sad. 

So, this time, published novel has reigned victorious over e-reader. What do you think? Do you like e-readers, or do you still tend to lean towards published novels like me?

8 comments:

  1. I'm the same. I have a Kindle, even though I was originally against the ideas of e-readers, I was brought one for my birthday one year and I do use it. But I still read more physical books than use my Kindle, and when I look at buying books I always check out the price of the physical edition. I to only tend to buy Kindle editions if they are a lot cheaper, or I'm being super inpatient lol.
    The main thing is I still love the feel of a book in my hand, holding my Kindle does not feel the same at all. And I agree with the covers! Some books have such beautiful covers it seems a shame to not be able to fully appreciate them.
    In the end, I have both and I use both, but I prefer the real deal.

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    1. I'm exactly the same. I don't mind either reading from a book or e-reader - it does often come down simply to price. I have a Kindle cover which is made to look somewhat like a book cover, which compensates some, but I agree; it is never the same! Yes, and I've found that quite a lot of Kindle versions don't have any sort of cover, so I can't even look at them in black and white. It seems a shame when the publishers have probably gone to a lot of trouble to produce a wonderful cover.

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  2. I don't have a Kindle, although I have the Kindle app on my laptop. I have about fifteen e-novels waiting for my attention, but somehow I never quite get to them. I always seem to pick up a paper-and-ink novel first. My daughter has a Kindle, uses it a lot and loves it. I love the *idea* that I could head off on vacation with dozens of books stored on the one device, but when it comes time to pack, I tuck in real books.

    I really do prefer a physical collection of real books. Maybe it has something to do with not trusting the reliability or permanency of digital copies. I love my bookcases full of books, old and new!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog today. I appreciated your visit.

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    1. I'm the same, I'll usually put a printed novel ahead of my Kindle books, unless I have something on Kindle that I really want to read. Yes, that function has been helpful! It's nice to have a choice, rather than trying to stuff a few select books in a suitcase. I have to admit that reliability is a factor for me. A couple of times my Kindle has played up, and instantly I've begun to panic that I'll have lost the books I bought. It hasn't happened, but I would probably be quite put off if it did happen in the future. Agreed! Thanks for your comment too, Carol.

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  3. I don't have an e-reader... though now and then I'll read something online (though it's not usually published in any profitable way, just something like fictionpress or wattpad). But overall I prefer having a physical book in my hand. There's the ability to flick through quickly, take it with you, not have to worry about the battery running out if you go camping or something... I don't know, there's just generally something more satisfying about having a physical book and being able to hold it and look at it and put it on a shelf with a heap of other books.

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    1. I agree completely! I don't think e-readers can ever quite match that feeling of a book in your hand, and the familiarity of having a physical novel. Yes, I think so too. It's nice to collect books and to see them on a bookshelf. It's a simple pleasure, but somehow having an e-reader just won't ever match that, no matter how many books are stored on it.

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  4. I don't read much and don't plan to have a kindle and buy e-books. I rather use my spare time to write my own novel. When I read, I don't read everything and skip pages when I get bored. It's easier to do in print books. But it's nice that readers have choices of e-books and it's very popular.

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    1. Yes, I certainly think that physical books have a far greater fit for all compared to e-readers, which only really appeal to a minority of readers. But I agree, it's great how they've added another facet to the publishing process, and the e-reader market can only get bigger. I think it's definitely a help rather than a hindrance in many aspects, especially for writers looking to be published!

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