Thursday, January 25, 2007

What would we do without readers?

Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and then the New Year. These are all times that we use to reflect on what we are thankful for. There are a lot of things that I’m thankful for. I could make a whole long list of people and things, but what I want to talk about is how thankful I am for the person who loves to read. Not only am I writer, I am a reader, too. I love to be transported to another place or time. I have been able to experience so many different things because I love to read. It’s a joy to get together with another reader and talk about the latest book I’ve read or a new author I have found.

One of the reasons I write is to entertain others. To do that I need the reader. I am thankful for all the readers out there who share my love for reading books.

Recently on an author loop someone asked if the book as we know it is dying. One person said they hoped not because she loved to hold a book in her hands and smell the paper and ink. Another pointed out the Star Trek series and how they portrayed a person reading a book on a handheld device. What do you think about the future of the book as a reader, as a writer? Will the way we read look different in the near future?

I personally don’t want to listen to a book although audio books are becoming more popular. I am a visual learner. I want to see the printed word. I don’t want to sit at the computer reading a book either. I wouldn’t mind using a handheld device that was easy to use and lightweight, but I don’t want to have to take out a loan to buy one. I think we will get there one day—possibly in the near future—but for me we aren’t there yet. I love holding the book and enjoying the printed page.

So I am thankful for the readers who continue to buy the books I write—others write. They keep alive what I love to do—write and read. If there were no readers, I would have to ask myself what would I be doing.


Nancy Morse said...

I have an aunt who's blind, so audio books are wonderful for her. But personally, I don't want to "hear" a book, I want to "read" it. Someone else's voice would distract me from the story or from what I perceive to be the sound of the characters' voices. If a characters in one of my books has some distinction about her/his voice, huskiness, raspiness, or whatever, I want the reader to hear that sound when the character speaks. It's great that audio and e-books are popular, but give me a print book any day. I want something I can hold in my hand. I want to feel the paper against my fingers as I turn the pages. I want to hold it to my face and breathe in that smell that only a print book has.

Christie Craig said...


Interesting topic. I'm a book lover, the smell of the paper, the feel of the pages as I turn them. I know they say the world of books is changing. I don't always like change.


JoAnn Ross said...

Okay, this is two days in a row I'm on the fence. First, I'm one of those who's always had a love affair with books, from, my mother told me, those first cloth books she'd toss into my crib to keep me occupied so she could sleep beyond dawn. (Amazing, that the girl who now only sees dawn if she's going to bed at that time used to be a morning baby! But I digress. . . )

I love the feel, the smell of books, turning the pages, the fact I can read them in a pool or a bathtub without electrocuting myself if I drop one.

However, when looking for a new state/town/house, we made 7 driving trips back and forth from AZ to the east coast and boy, did those audio books make those trips easier. Same with the 8-9 hr trips from East TN to D.C. we make several times a year to visit grandbabies. And, when we went to Ireland, I passed the time listening to the new Woodward book I'd downloaded onto my ipod, which was cool.

We also, at my husband's urging, listen to the audio versions of my books on those drives (the unabridged 7-9 CD versions last about the length of the DC drive), and I have to admit that the first time I heard someone else speaking for my characters was a bit strange because it was so not how they'd sounded in my head for so many months. (Though fortunately I haven't had a clinker yet. At least not to my ears.)

One thing that did make me a bit nervous the first time was what would happen when we got to the love scenes. Well, my sweetie had read the ms, as he always does, at various draft stages, proofed both the final version and the galleys, and read it yet again as a final book just for fun (yes, he is a darling, which is why I eventually took him back two years after our divorce, lol), so we both knew the story really well. But it wasn't as embarrassing as I'd feared, and just as it came to, well, a climax, outside Staunton, VA, he said, "Okay, that's it. I'm pulling over." LOL

As for the ebooks, I'm not there yet, but further along on imagining myself reading on an e-reader than I was two years ago. (Partly because I love watching movies on my PSP on plane trips, and if I can enjoy Johnny Depp on a 2 1/2 x 4 inch screen, I could probably enjoy a book, under the right circumstances.) And the idea of having so many books in such a small space is appealing for trips, especially with airlines cracking down on how much you can take anymore.

So, I guess my final answer is that I love all readers however they choose to read my books, because all I ever wanted out of this writing business was a chance to share my stories with other people. The more the merrier. Oh, and I'm especially thankful for a handful of readers who write to me whenever a new book comes out to let me know they've bought it in BOTH print and e-versions. Why, I've no idea, but I'm pleased as punch they do. :)

JoAnn Ross said...

Oh, I forgot to say, yes, the book world is changing, but better that we change than disappear because we become too outdated and irrelevant. Although we've grown up with paperbacks, they really only came into being after WWII. Troops had been sent books from the homefront; books that had been purposefully scaled down so they could carry them with them. When they got home, they wanted more of those same handy-to-read books, but I imagine in those days there must've been a lot of criticism from hardcover traditionalists.

Nancy Herkness said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michele Dunaway said...

Bottom line: 20 years from now, printed books are the only technology guaranteed to open.

Nancy Herkness said...

Margaret, you mentioned Star Trek and brought forth my former Trekkie enthusiasm. One of the things I always found charming about Captain Kirk (other than the fact that he saved the universe in every other episode) was that he collected actual books. They were, of course, incredibly valuable antiques by the time Kirk got hold of them but he actually liked to read them. So even in the future, there will be those who want to hold a book and turn the physical pages. :-)

That said, I had the chance to play with a Sony e-Reader a couple of months ago and I have to say it's a truly elegant piece of electronics. The type was highly readable and very book-like. You could mark your place, browse through or search for something specific. My only complaint was that the buttons were rather small and a bit hard to manipulate. I think Sony sacrificed a certain amount of ease-of-use to sleekness.

Like JoAnn, I have been known to listen to books when commuting or running on the treadmill. There is definitely a place for the audio format although, for me, it will never replace reading.

I say: All hail to the book in any form! It's the content that counts and that's never going to change.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the old cliche is true -- different strokes for different folks. I know some people who love audio books and some who love e-books. Good for them. It may simply come down to how we operationally define a "book" -- for me, however, it's the smell of the pages and the feel of it in my hands. I also think I like the idea that I can pause, look back at a sentence, and savor special words or phrases easier -- and for me that's a big part of pleasure reading.

Margaret Daley said...

I teach high school English for special education and we listen to books on tape. We just got through with the Good Earth and one of the students' comment was the voice of the narrator was too slow. It bothered him throughout the story. Audio books are great for a lot of people--my mother-in-law for one who is legally blind--but until he had said that I hadn't consider that in listening to a book it's not just the words being said but how they are said.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know if books will fade out in my lifetime (which isn't going to be really long), but I'm pretty sure newspapers are. And that breaks my heart. I've started every morning for 40 years reading the paper and can't imagine not doing so. In the 1990's my huge metropolitan city (the fourth largest in the U.S.) became a one-newspaper town. Now, even some of my highly educated friends no longer subscribe to a newspaper, preferring to read it online throughout the day.

Not me. I love pouring over it with my coffee and cereal first thing every morning. As I have for 40 years.

And don't tell me how many trees I'll save by switching to online news. I already scrupulously recycle EVERYTHING.