Saturday, November 13, 2010

And from the ashes shall rise . . . ebooks?

The NY Times is going to start ranking ebook bestsellers : E-Books to Join the NY Times Best-Seller List.

This is a big step in giving "legitimacy" to ebooks.

As a writer, I'm delighted. The more publishing venues that have "legitimacy" in society's view, the better. As a reader, I'm unimpressed.

When I started writing professionally (just a few years ago), e-publishers were viewed by a lot of people as being on the same level as a blog: anyone can post stuff online, so anyone can put out an ebook (or so the logic went).

I was actually warned away from e-publishers by more experienced writers, and told that "if I absolutely had to go with an e-publisher, for the love of God, don't include that publication credit in your bio." It was considered akin to saying I published it on my own website.

But that, I'm happy to say, has all changed. Many of the big publishing houses now have e-publishing divisions. And now, with the NY Times adding e-books to their bestseller lists, ebooks are coming into the mainstream.

That said, I have to admit I'm not a reader of e-books (hypocritical, I know). I don't own an e-reader, and, for the most part, I do my reading on paper. I'll read a blog, or a short on a website, but if the piece is longer than a page or two . . . I print it out.

A big part of my paper preference is that I just find it easier to read paper than read digital.

Novels are a different matter. It's not just that I feel they are easier to read in paper form; there is the whole experience: the smell of the paper, the feel of turning the page, the folding of a page to bookmark my place . . . there are more sensory experiences associated with reading a paper novel than just sight.

So although I'm delighted that the NY Times will be listing ebooks, I can't imagine every reading ebooks myself. Of course, there will probably come a day when I may no longer have the option: almost every week, there's a new article predicting the end of traditional publishing and the rise of the dominion of e-publishing. Perhaps this is another step that direction.

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