Let’s get one thing straight from the outset: I love printed books. You may not know that I grew up in bookstores. My mother managed two book stores–the college bookstore at Mizzou and an indie called Chapter 1 in Columbia, MO. In addition, my grandparents owned a well-known used book store in Ft. Worth called The Book Swap. I literally spent most of my summers and after school time in these stores. I shelved books, yes, but mostly I hid among the shelves inhaling the sweet. smoky scent of print books and reading every book I could get my hands on. I love bookstores and I love print books. Period.
I also have been an outspoken advocate of independent bookstores. I was heartbroken when our local indie went out of business, and I constantly steer readers towards Murder by the Book in Houston because the people there are amazing and I know my readers will have a good experience.
That said, the world has changed a lot since I was a kid. Now we have new fangled technological devices that make it easy to get stories on demand. While I still shop at bookstores all the time (preferably indies, but I’m not picky), I do a lot of reading of ebooks, as well. I usually have a print book and at least two devices that allow me access ebooks with me at all times (usually my phone and my laptop, but also often a Kindle or iPad.) Reading is part of my job, so I like the ability to access books in many forms and formats at any given time.
I’ve noticed something lately that surprised me. A lot of readers are emailing to say that they can’t or won’t read my electronic stories because they don’t own an ereader. Most of these comments have nothing to do with a moral objection to ebooks, but more of a “I don’t own an ereader so I’m screwed” kind of thing.
Here’s the thing: You do not have to buy an expensive ereader to enjoy ebooks. Every major e-book retailer has apps available that allow you to read on a smart phone or tablet. In addition, you can also read ebooks on your laptop or desktop computer. These are free ways to read ebooks (you still have to pay for the book, though, obviously).
While most of my books are available in several formats: print, ebook, and audio, some stories work best as ebooks. I’m thinking mainly about short stories and novellas. The cost of printing those stories would make the price of selling them cost prohibitive based on what the market is saying right now. So when I publish an e-novella like Meridian Six or Rusted Veins, it’s put out as e-only because that’s the best format for the story form. This allows us to sell them inexpensively, as well as faster than a traditional novel, which can take nine months to a year to be released through traditional pipelines.
If supporting Amazon or B&N don’t appeal to you, you can download the Kobo app and link it to your favorite indie bookstore. That way when you buy an ebook you’ll be supporting indies at the same time. Win-win for everyone.
So next time your favorite author puts out an e-only release, don’t automatically think you’ll be deprived of the story simply because you don’t own a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. You can read those stories on several different free platforms.