Generation E


When I go visit antique shows, or a shop, I often find that some vendors prefer leaving their antiques un-touched, in original condition. Which means all the bumps bruises dings, and wear and tear the item suffered is all intact. Other antique dealers, go through the painstaking and loving process of refurbishing their goods, stripping the wood down, new varnish, repairs… restoring it as closely to its original condition as possible.  I presume for them its a matter of preference, and its certainly a matter of preference which I’d buy, and which has more appeal.

Without a doubt a actual book printed on paper and put on a shelf is as much a treasure to me as the antiques I see. For one thing barring a fire, or someone (perhaps even myself) getting rid of a book they will last. My grandmothers, and uncles books (some anyway) are still around. Their spines are worn, pages are falling out, a tea stain or three. It shows me just how much these books were loved in their life-time.

Books from my child-hood show the same wear-and-tear, to the point where I had one collection replaced so I could read new-copies, but I still have my old ones. To show my future generations exactly how much I loved them.

But we’re in a digital era, where MP3’s have replaced the records I’d pull out of mom’s closet, and I don’t have to worry about my tape being eaten by the machine, or my cd getting scratched up due to ill treatment. Its a wonderful thing, with digital media allowing music artists to share, collaborate, and sell independently.

On the other hand are the pit-falls, digital copyright, piracy- and what constitutes as piracy, digital security.  Are you getting credit for your self-published art, music, or book? I’m constantly torn between the wonderful world that is creative-commons and share and share alike for creative works… and well, being able to be selfish and protective.

I want my writing protected, which is primarily why its not online. While I love the idea of sharing, and creative commons, and all that wonderful jazz… it’s too new. Too raw, and, I want to someday be able to honestly publish my work, see it in paper back form. So having someone else trotting around with it (even if they can’t use it commercially), might not be such a good idea. Then again, I could always self-publish digitally… but then I’d never see my books in hard-form.

At the moment however I don’t trust, and don’t like ebooks.  The hearsay that ebooks cost less so therefore authors should earn more sounds good to my ears… However I can’t prove that. The NOOK and the technology in general makes me drool, yes I’m a gadget freak. I’ve got one foot and hand clinging to the old, and my other even greedier side reaching for the cutting-razor sharp edges of technology.

So swapping to ebooks in general I might be giving up a few things…

1: The aesthetic pleasure of books on shelves, a timeless classical thing to do. 2: The ability to hand said books down generations until they ultimatly crumble to dust.

Assuming, we keep the same ebook format for as long as we kept CD’s and DVD’s around… that gives me what? 15 years before the devices and formats get changed? Then another 15 before they are phased out entirely and I have to replace my entire book collection?

I see strides are being made in the world of ebooks, wonderful ones. Sharing, being able to get your books back if you drop your Nook down a flight of stairs… but what happens – if the company gets bought out 30 years from now, and what happens when the technology continues to grow in leaps and bounds and replaces what you own.

So next deep breath.

Over the years we’ve had four(?) major book-sellers locally, each of them shut down in a year or two. Barnes and Nobles has been valiantly holding out for longer… Which is why I go there. I like seeing a book-store nearby. The nearest locally-owned shop is 15 min further away and always closed when I go, and the nearest book-shops listed on http://www.indiebound.org/ are even further away than that.

So keeping my store is important to me, and without sales it might take the same path other book stores took… straight out the door.

If I buy a book online, lets say at bn.com as opposed to driving my nook, to the store and purchasing while in the shops location. Does my purchase get registered locally? To keep a store in our area? On that note, if the world moves toward pure-digitalis will we even need a store? Oh how I am already mourning the loss of all those books on shelves.

I might be persuaded to give up all of the above and invest in an ebook reader and start buying ebooks on one crucial point, and for one reason.

Does the author, make more for each book sold (percentage wise) in ebook format, or in paperback? I think that will be a tough question to answer. Even in ebook format you still need a copy-editor, an editor, a cover-artist, ect ect ect… And then you need to think about advertising costs. Any author dealing exclusively in ebooks, will lack the “wow- check this out” spontaneity I find while looking at a new-author in the store.

In all honesty, shopping online for books – sucks. It feels disorganized, and the same title can appear over and over and over (different formats!) while browsing a category. Annoying but ok I can deal.

So let me assume that the rumor mill is correct and ebooks should cost less because your cutting out the publishing costs. The cost of paper, ink, and covers.

The mass-market paperback of Black Witch White Curse by Kim Harrison is listed on bn.com as $7.19 member price and $7.99 eBook price – which as far as I can tell E-BOOK’s don’t qualify for the member discount.

So despite what I hear that ebooks “should be cheaper” that obviously does not apply to easily most of the books I purchased recently, I know because I checked. So I’m only really saving myself gas-money.

But, even with this being the case, and even if it isn’t technically money-efficient (yet) and even if I have to give up beauty and aesthetics… I would more than willingly swap to e-books. If I thought that the book, which sells at the same price as its paper-back twin, made the author more money. I have a sinking feeling that as with most industry, if I look any deeper I might find that that extra money, translates into publishers profits. Heck the poor editors, agents, and everyone else who worked on the book might not even get a raise.

So someone tell me, that I’m wrong and the world isn’t that corrupt.

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2 thoughts on “Generation E

  1. Greg says:

    First off, it’s interesting that while you prefer refurbished antiques, you like the books with the original tears and stains. There’s a story behind every tear and stain in a book, even if it’s no longer possible to find it out. But the same is true for every ding and scratch on any antique.

    As for digital media, don’t worry about it getting old; the good news about digital media is that it’s much easier to automate its conversion to the next form. While books need to be scanned in page by page and then go through a complicated OCR, e-books and mp3s can be converted to any other format with a few clicks, so you won’t ever lose them.

  2. Krista says:

    Actually It depends on what sort of antique I am looking at, for example a couch I prefer referbished especially if the fabrics/springs are worn or old. But in many cases I do like the wear and tear found on antiques.

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