Carolyn’s Love-Hate Affair
"Never say never," is an adage I ascribe
to but have ignored for way too many years. E-books are my latest
reminder that I am a slow learner.
My first take on e-books was that they can't be held or smelled
or slid from a shelf. I sniffed in disgust. “What, no dusty
fingers? No deliciously tattered dust covers? No turned-back corners
and margin notes?”
In my mind, the books you could "have and hold until death
do us part" were the only authentic books. I could not get
over attitudes sculpted in granite decades before that "e"
was not a prefix for anything, but especially not a book. I had
published several “real” books in just a few years,
some self published. Some traditionally published. I had gained
a lot of experience in the new world of publishing and lots of expertise
Obviously e-books could not have any real value if they couldn't
offer even one of the tangible benefits I valued. My stupidity was
showing. Soon I learned how valuable e-books can be for promoting
one's "real" books. With several other authors I collaborated
on three promotional e-books, meaning my fellow authors and I gave
them away free. Now, that was something that could appeal to my
little marketing heart.
That these efforts at promotion with e-books were so successful
should have opened my mind to all the e-book possibilities. The
limitations of traditional publishing should have also nudged me
into becoming a fan of e-books. One of those limitations is that
regular books published by traditional presses go out of print so
quickly. The shelf life of a carton of pasteurized milk can be longer
than the time a bookstore will give a new author to prove herself.
I learned this when Waldenbooks, a chain that had been very good
to me by sponsoring more than thirty of my book signings, gave me
the jolting news: I had contacted one of them to see if they still
had some copies of my novel This
Is the Place because I would be interviewed about Utah
and the Elizabeth Smart case on a morning radio station in their
area. "No, we're out," the voice on the phone said.
"If you'll order a few more of them, I could mention your
store during the radio interview."
"Oh, I'm sorry, but we don't order any books over 90 days
I was astounded. Too stunned to note that I must, then, be in very
good company and that their stores must be very short on titles
by Dickens and Dostoevsky as well as Howard-Johnson.
Sometime after that, my publisher came to my rescue. They started
a new "E-Library" featuring their best-selling titles
and both of mine were among them. Imagine that. New life for two
books that—just like people and fine wine—don't get
older, only better. Now both This
Is the Place and Harkening
are out of print and available only as used books on Amazon.
Mmmmm. What do you think I’m going to do with them now I have
those contracts back in my grubby little hands?
I can't promise I'll "never say never again," but I'm
certain that when I do (I told you I was a slow learner), those
words will not be used in conjunction with e-anything, but especially
not e-books. I am a convert, pure and simple. I’m even saving
Amazon gift certificates to buy a Kindle. Gasp!
It hasn’t escaped me that the happiest people on my American
flights are those who bring their own Godiva chocolates and their
e-book readers. My Kindle will come in handy when I travel. I can
even carry copies of all my own books in it.
But no, I’m not giving up on “The Real Thing,”
as Coke says. I have way too many of them stashed on special shelves
built to preserve my collection of classics and old high school
and university texts. I even have a shelf of books my name appears
in. As a quote. Because I’ve given the author an endorsement.
Or because I’ve written a foreword for them. And, if any author
of one of these dares to offer me “only” an e-book copy,
I will be bold enough to tell them about that shelf and how I wouldn’t
dream of not having their book displayed proudly on it. That’s
surely something one can’t do with an e-book.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will
help authors write or promote better. She will also include
a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected
books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)
blogging became popular, everyone is a writer. People who
haven’t thought about homonyms for years are brushing
up on them. And on tip offs to wordiness. And on grammar.
And some people are publishing what they write—easily.
Find help with all things writing or publishing at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/links_for_writers.htm.
Tip for Readers' Tip: Magdalena
Ball and I have written the Celebration Series of poetry chapbooks
including one for Mother’s day. Yes, they are available
as slim paperbacks ($12.95) so folks can give them as gifts,
but they’re also available as e-books., She
Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood is available
in time for Mother’s Day 2011.
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