…eeeee-easy does it… Susan M. Toy spells out the ‘print versus eBooks’ issue…

…my dear pal, Authoress, Susan Toy knows what she’s talking about when it comes to books… she’s seen the business from several angles, including selling ‘em, promoting ‘em, writing ‘em, and blogging about ‘em… her Guest Post today blows away a few urban myths about the expected longevity both of print and eBooks…


Not so fast, Print-Lovers!

By Susan M. Toy

Thanks to Seumas Gallacher for agreeing to host me, once again, by posting this rant guest post on a topic that has me particularly steamed … or fried, actually.

Last evening, when I began making dinner, I asked Dennis if he thought I should slice the potatoes into rounds instead of the usual sticks to make fries, just for a change. (Belgian Fries, actually, since I’m half-Belgian.)

He made a face – really! – and said, “But then they won’t be fries!”

“But they’ll still be potatoes I’m frying, just in a different shape.”

He shrugged and went outside, glass of R&C in hand, to watch the sun set.

After we’d finished dinner, Dennis said, “Hey, those fries were really good. Just like real fries.”

My eyes rolled up to look at the ceiling and I shook my head.

I relate this anecdote here now, because it’s not unlike the arguments print-only lovers make when commenting disparagingly about eBooks and other new formats of books. “I will only read print; I will never read eBooks. I just don’t like eBooks.”

And it’s this attitude, and the glee with which these print-only lovers exclaim the “imminent death” of everything “E” that has been spread lately throughout the media and on social networks that really have me fired up! First of all, what these people don’t realize is that current reports and articles are mainly erroneous and the information is manipulative to make readers believe that not only are fewer eBooks being sold, but that print sales are on an upsurge.

Far from actually “dying”, eBooks are enjoying healthier sales than ever right now, and people in greater numbers (especially in my age demographic of Baby Boomers) are turning to eReading in even greater numbers than before. Many Thought Tablet Would Kill Ereader http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Many-Thought-Tablet-Would-Kill-Ereader-Why-Didnt-Happen/1013638

I discovered an interesting and informative author-blog last week in which some of what has been happening in the publishing business is explained. Gene Doucette points out that most of the declarations of the death of eBooks is coming from the Big5 publishers – who have their own interests in mind: The Collective Madness of the Publishing Industry http://genedoucette.me/2016/02/the-collective-madness-of-the-publishing-industry/ It’s very important to read articles such as this to understand how the business is being skewed in favour of the publishers.

Here are more current articles to read: The Nook’s Weird Death March http://genedoucette.me/2016/03/the-nooks-weird-death-march/

Barne’s & Noble Nukes the Nook http://diginomica.com/2016/03/07/bn-nukes-the-nook-with-a-15-march-deadline-for-customers-to-save-their-content/

How Apple and Big Publishers pushed eBooks toward failure http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-07/how-apple-and-big-publishers-pushed-e-books-toward-failure

Please be sure to read these articles, because they go a long way to explain why I say all these declarations of death of the eBook are downright false! To paraphrase Mark Twain, “the reports of eBook death are greatly exaggerated.”

If anything, there’s a shift away from the original eReaders (Kindle, KOBO, NOOK) as more ways of reading eBooks become available, through tablets, apps, on your computer or phone. If anything is dying, it’s those original eReaders! (Although my Kindle Paperwhite is now 4 years old and still ticking.)

But that’s not the part of all this that has me steamed. What I resent – and resent mainly as an author who has published in both print and eBook – is that print-only proponents believe everyone should be satisfied with reading print only – because that’s the way they choose to read – and that they also express a great deal of satisfaction in this so-called “death” of eBooks.

I have always believed that we, as authors and publishers, should make our books available in as many formats as possible – because we want to get those books into as many readers’ hands as possible! We should be catering to EVERY reader, whether they prefer print, eBook, or even audio (if we can afford to produce that format) in order to reach as many eyes as we can, throughout the world. I draw the line at scrolls hand-printed by monks, however. That’s just not practical any longer – there’s a scarcity of trained monks these days.

To downplay one format in favour of another does a terrible disservice to AUTHORS, as well as READERS! Authors have a right to find and attract the largest audience possible. What a shame it would be if an author were to write a terrific book that was only published in print and unavailable outside of their home country (because of restrictions on publishing rights – a whole different topic) or limited to their local area due to excessive shipping costs.

I wrote about the opportunity to move from being a local author to one with a global reach in an earlier guest post for Seumas: From Local to Global: eBooks – promoting Authors to International Status https://seumasgallacher.com/2014/11/28/dear-friend-authoress-susan-m-toy-a-giantess-in-promoting-the-rest-of-we-quill-scrapers/

As I say at the end of this post … “eBooks have allowed me the opportunity to become an author with an international following – something that never would have happened in a million years of print publishing!”

So, if you are one of those who espouse print – Good for you! And at least you are still reading. But please don’t think you are reading books in a “better” way than those who choose to read eBooks. Or that you should be cheering the demise of another format. Because what you are actually doing is denying READING! Denying the right to access books and reading in other formats – just because you yourself “prefer” reading books in print.

I, personally, am ambidextrous when it comes to reading formats: sometimes I read print (because I own so many print books), sometimes I read eBooks I’ve downloaded to my Kindle. I also read eBooks borrowed from the library on an Overdrive app. And I read PDFs sent to me by authors and friends. I do all my own writing directly to my computer and create Word docs and PDFs from that, which I’m now accustomed to editing directly on the computer. At the moment, I’m reading two print books, an eBook on my Kindle, I’m waiting for a hold to come in at the library, and I’m editing a Word Doc. I have at times listened to audio books, but find my mind wanders, so it’s not my favourite format. It’s great though for taking notes, as though I’m in a lecture, when I listen to non-fiction. But I would never consider denying anyone else access to audio just because I don’t enjoy “reading” books in that manner.

How about if we stop fighting over preferred formats, or considering that our choice is somehow better than others? How about if we start thinking about the authors and the readers, and helping to bring the two groups together in whatever way we can – by encouraging the creation, sales, distribution, and easy access of ALL formats of books … the formats in which readers choose to read these books.

Quite frankly, if any one of these formats were to die because another became dominant, we would all lose – Authors AND Readers! We should be encouraging innovation, not standing still, firmly entrenched in the last century. I doubt we’ve seen the final evolution of books and reading, and I for one cheer, “Bring it on! Let’s see what you’ve got that encourages readers to want to read even more books!”

And I just bet that the very next time I make fries, Dennis will ask for them to be cut into rounds instead of sticks.

…thanks for another terrific post, m’Lady, Susan… for all yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, yeez can catch up with Susan here :

Susan M. Toy
And a blog offering honest reviews of those authors’ books:

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

50 responses to “…eeeee-easy does it… Susan M. Toy spells out the ‘print versus eBooks’ issue…

  1. Great post, Susan. Nice to see all the BS being swept away. Best wishes. Eric

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have visual disabilities that make reading a paper book easier than reading from a screen. Screen reading is tiring, so I can do it comfortably only in short sessions. When I am reading for enjoyment, I want to read for longer periods, and I don’t want to be exhausted by it. But some Indie authors I would like to read refuse to publish their works in paper editions. I wish they understood that they’re excluding part of their market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! We shouldn’t be excluding any part of our market, just for the selfish reason that we prefer one over the other. Disabilities are another matter altogether, though. I know there are attempts being made to develop more reader-friendly devices, and that font-size and screen brightness are big reasons why many people are switching to eReaders from print. The problem still stands for you, Christine – how do we get our print books to you, or people like you, who are unable to read electronically? Maybe it’s a matter of allowing you to buy a format (like PDF) and give you permission to print a copy from your computer? This is something that hasn’t been addressed in the past. Perhaps it’s time to think about that as a solution.

      Liked by 2 people

    • ..m’Lady, Christine, I also empathise 100% for friends who have difficulty in reading from the computer screens… but may I say, most authors would LUV to have all of their titles readily available in print, but the sad fact is that the publishing industry only picks up a fraction of all authors’ works, thus making the eBook route a great alternative for them to at least ‘get into the market’ … if an author self-publishes in print, those costs are prohibitive… I’ve done both,print and eBooks, but was lucky to get my print versions accepted in local retail stores here in the Middle East… but having said that, only the first two titles are in print, and I keep the stock with me here …not available through any other channels at present …all four titles ARE on Kindle… LUVZYA!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, kindest of sirs, for inviting me back again and allowing me to “vent”!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    Thanks to Seumas Gallacher for inviting me back again to his blog so that I could vent about a particular bugbear …

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Excellent post from Susan Toy on Seumas Gallacher’s blog on the topic of print vs. ebook.. My view is too is that eventually we will be reading our books on every conceivable device, some of which have not yet been invented and the sooner the traditionalists get their minds around that the better. Yes a book in any format should be as well written and produced across the board, but I am looking forward to reading it in the most appropriate format for me at any given moment in time.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Good post and I agree books should be available in as many formats as possible to cater for all tastes. I love reading print books my Other Half enjoys audio. I dislike reading on a computer screen but love my Kindle. The OH bought it for me many years ago after we had a crisis when I ran out of books to read on holiday and there was no English language bookshop!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I would be SHOCKED if ebooks disappeared. Though I love paper books, I read a lot. Ebooks are less expensive and easy to store. As a result, I buy more of them! Yay!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hear. Hear. Still the same content no matter how you publish it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Author Rebecca Heishman

    Reblogged this on Dancing With The MS MonSter.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve been buying e-books for two reasons. First, it’s hard for me to physically go shopping because of arthritis. Second, I’m retired and they’re a lot more affordable than print books. Thanks for this great piece. Thanks, Seumas for having Susan as a guest. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hopping into the fray – if there is one. I read books on my kindle almost exclusively because I can enlarge print. Second point is that they can be obtained so easily. However, two cons also. First I like to be able to flip back and reread occasionally, for instance, I might want to remind myself about who a particular character is. Second, I don’t remember nearly as well from reading the kindle as from reading print books. I think that is because I have more kinetic sense involved in print books. Also, I see print books during the day even if I am not reading, on the chair or desk, wherever I last read. It is a reminder even if unconscious about what I have been reading. I have no desire to look up my books in the cloud to see if I want to reread, but I often see one on my shelf that I want to reread. But I am really thankful for the kindle reading. I wouldn’t read many books anymore because of small font.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right, Oneta – print books do tend to remind us and beckon to be reread. And, as it’s said, Books do furnish a room! I don’t have quite the same emotional tug at my heart gazing at the online bookshelf of my Kindle.

      Liked by 2 people

    • ..all good insightful comments, m’Lady, Oneta:)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oneta, I’d recommend–if you have these options on your eReader–highlighting and making a note about each character or incident you may want to revisit. It’s then very easy to view your notes, or even to select something you’ve highlighted and return to it. I like highlighting particularly well-phrased passages or astute observations, whereas I can’t bring myself to write in a physical book. Being able to easily look things up on Wiki or the dictionary when connected to wi-fi is another benefit to reading on an e-reader.


  12. A helpful and interesting post. As for our preferences, the content may be the same and I don’t mind if people prefer one or other or both, but I’m happiest with paper.I do my reading in bed at night and just don’t feel comfortable with an e-reader though I do have one with a good stack of books. Maybe it’s because I spend so much of my day in front of a screen that puts me off. Ah well, each to their own and I certainly don’t mind people buying anything of mine anywhere in thew world on e-book.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    Print books or ebook? How about audio? I love the feel and smell of a print book, but my aging eyes prefer ebooks because I can adjust the size of the font. It doesn’t matter how you read as long as you’re reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It is rather weep inducing to find a section dissing something as innovative as the ebook. I do enjoy print but appreciate to convenience of the ebook. Tolerance can be in short supply in so many fora it seems. And the chips sound lovely btw

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reblogged this on WHAT THE HELL and commented:
    Print vs. ebook … Both please!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It could be that some people see the supposed decline of ebooks as reassuring — not all old, familiar things are being swept away by relentless change. And the printed book is a sentimental icon, one of the undisputed Good Things. I recently published all four of my books, formerly available only as ebooks, in print, using CreateSpace. It was a lot trickier to format the Word documents, but once I figured out how to deal with headers, footers and page numbering, it was really rewarding. Even while I agree that ebooks are more convenient and less costly, there is something special about print. I’m happy to have my works available in both formats.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Susan, thank you for this excellent article, and for the links to the others. Working in a bookstore, I do hope that print books don’t go out of fashion entirely, as I will then be out of a job.
    On the other hand, I also read eBooks because of the broader selection, the ease of purchasing them, the lower prices, the convenience of being able to travel with so many titles, and some of the features of e-readers such as being able to select font type and size, lighting, and the ability to easily look things up.
    Customers have sometimes said they don’t want to “bother” me at work because they’re simply browsing to later go home and download the eBook version of whatever title captures their interest. I appreciate their honesty, but it doesn’t disturb me in the least. I still enjoy talking with them about books and helping them make a selection.
    That eBook readers browse in brick-and-mortar bookstores to find titles tells me that they find “browsing” online difficult, or perhaps they worry about missing the experience of coming unexpectedly upon some gem their e-reader wouldn’t “recommend” based on their past reading history. Due to space restrictions and overhead costs, however, brick-and-mortar stores stock a limited selection of books projected–primarily by the “Big Five”–to be profitable.
    Despite working in a bookstore, then, I’m not a Luddite. Reading, in whatever format, should always be encouraged. Reading allows one to see things from different perspectives: to feel, for example, the experience of a woman from Afghanistan; to reflect on the beliefs of those long dead; to understand where modern ideas came from and evolved (or devolved); to explore other worlds and manners of living. In other words, reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, enhances empathy, understanding, imagination, and deep reflection. Reading broadly educates, to return to the fried potatoes analogy, the palate.


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