e-Everything? I prefer Real Books but e-Books seem the Future

Moving Story by Comfreak CC0 Public Domain

Any of us that love to read would agree that we love to hold a real book in our hands” ~ Scott Biddulph of Two Drops of Ink


Future of Real Books


The future of real books has for more than a few years been an open question. There have been predic­tions about the collapse of the book industry for quite some time. Almost every-time we think we have seen the death knell the printed book gets a fresh lease of life. I am currently seeking a publish­er for my novel and every new publish­er I look at is half way between the printed book and the e-book. Change in the public­a­tion industry is the hallmark of the future.

Many people only see printed books as real books. Yet surely knowledge trans­fer is key and that can take any medium.

books with girl royalty free image from dreamstimeIt will always be clear to my mind an e-book does not have the same look and feel as holding real books does. The effort to turn the page is mighty, it signals to the writer (albeit they are not present) that we have taken the trouble to read every word on the page and have claimed victory over page 139, before moving on to page 140 and start­ing the challenge all over again.

Turning that page doesn’t mean we have under­stood everything the writer said. The writer brings to the table ideas, a story that is meaning­ful to them. As a reader, we may have had to battle with some concepts (especially when the book is discuss­ing one fine point of a new theory we seek to under­stand). An individu­al reader may not see the world in the same way as the author does, but by reading they are open to possib­il­it­ies. That is what books are all about.




I would prefer my novel (or any other book I produce) become a real book. Being a realist, I under­stand the future of real books is question­able. I know that e-publication (no matter how much I dislike it) is likely where I attain my first sale.

Then I ask the question how would an author sign an e-book? But is the e-author there­fore so remote that they never do signings? Arguably anoth­er way the e-book degrades the reading exper­i­ence.

Yet it is import­ant to question — what is more important…to sell books or be read? To be read is the first prior­ity for any writer.

Commuting on public trans­it, or when flying half way around the world there is a distinct advant­age offered by the e-book, you can take your entire library without break­ing the scales at the check-in desk. Over the past few years we have seen onslaught of eReader apps for the special­ist readers, computer, Android or Apple tablet device, or smart phone and I have to say that I have spent more than a few hours in book and electron­ic stores looking at the capab­il­it­ies of each tool on offer.

99% of my reading is non-fiction. One aspect of many non-fiction books is many are not read in a linear way. From a book on the origins of flight I may read the chapter titled “From de Vinci to the Wright Brothers” because I am inter­ested in finding out more about the birth of flight. Using the knowledge for a writing project. I have read a great many business books this way. Read the chapter that relates to my research.


Search the Library


It may be years before I read the rest of the book, but the book remains on my shelf for future refer­ence. This is partic­u­larly true for scientif­ic or profes­sion­al books. In many respects this reading style lends itself more to the e-book. Particularly true when the App allows you to search through your entire library for a partic­u­lar concept, but hey, guess what? Most eReaders are not capable of perform­ing such searches.

Another thing I have done when reading a factu­al book is highlight things the author says and sometimes I may use yellow or orange to indic­ate import­ant things, a pink shade for any state­ment I disagree with and a green shade for state­ments I agree profusely with. I wanted to see if this were possible with eReader software and have to say most fall far short of my desires. Of course as soon as I publish this one reader will post a comment stating they have the ideal reader that does everything I desire. [Update November 2017] The eReaders are now slowly adapt­ing the ability to highlight and markup work. They are better on the PC than tablets.


eReader Capability


My point being, if I highlight something, I can come back to it years later and retrace my thoughts about the book. I should be able to do more with eReader software, for example search everything about techno­logy that discusses robot­ics and combine that with a search of everything about law for the same subject, this would make a power­ful research tool.

epub logoThe truth is it may take time for the software to catch up with my desires. Especially true, as no eReader software company has ever asked what function­al­ity I desire. These apps will improve with time [a note from 2017] and they certainly have done.

The challenge for the writer is one over which site and format will provide the widest reach. That question, however, is a moving target as the tools become more adapt­able and widely used. I perceive the future ability to carry around a massive library of e-books on a tablet. The techno­lo­gist in me loves that prospect. Although I am not sure I relish the prospect of purchas­ing everything in my collec­tion again in an electron­ic format, it is a simil­ar problem faced by the CD, cassette or 8-track tape, or Vinyl album.

Ultimately I do not see books as disap­pear­ing altogeth­er. At some point there will be a resur­gence in the industry. Many young­er people under­stand why real book are import­ant and it is through them that the future lies. Truth is few in my gener­a­tion value books. I have a large collec­tion — most people my age have five or six.

Ta a large extent the biggest challenge in the future is the question self-published versus profes­sion­ally published works. Although there are some profes­sion­ally written self-published books and e-books it is true to say that all too many are plagued with errors.


Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a thank you for this article.


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