A few years ago I made some overly-dramatic proclamation in Publishers Weekly about never accepting e-books and "they'll need to pry my paperback from my cold, dead hands" and probably some other shit that sounded like I was standing on the front porch of our office shaking my fist at the kids out on the lawn.
Well, I've changed. Kinda.
I don't own a Kindle or any other e-reader. Truthfully, with as much time as I spend on a computer during the day, I'm not really excited by the idea of staring at any other kind of screen because I worry my eyes are going to quit on me. Before anybody replies and says, "Yes, but a scientific study says that reading on a portable device is better for your eyes because you can adjust..." I'm not really interested in your facts or your science.
I'm interested in holding on to one of the most important things in my life as I have always known it. I am hopelessly and madly in love with the feel, the look, and even the scent of whatever rainforest has been cut down and processed into a book. The digitization and evolution of a book is akin to the lover who slowly pulls away, growing distant with the change, leaving us to wonder in the face of what becomes unrecognizable -- did we ever really know the truth about anything?
I see that I haven't left the overly-dramatic business in the years old pages of Publishers Weekly.
But I have made peace with the e-book. Because I've got a sneaking suspicion that it is doing something more important than my desperate clinging to old memories -- it is creating new readers and excitement about books in a way that I haven't seen in my professional life.
I also realize that if I were to stand up and brace myself against the crowd yelling things like, "But you can't duplicate the paper experience! Look at the cover, it's art!" I'd be something of a hypocrite. When the MP3 revolution stormed the consumer world, I got caught up in it against the protestations of people telling me that "digital is just a cheap approximation of analog! This isn't how the musician wanted this to be heard!"
In the last ten years I have grown my music collection at a pace that far eclipses any other time in my life. I attribute a large part of that to (1) the internet hipping me to bands I would have never come across any other way (2) the internet making it possible to impulsively buy a song or an album with the click of a button. I'm confident that the internet can do the same thing for authors and readers.
I'm in the business of publishing the best books I can with the hope of getting as many people as possible to read them. What does it matter how others choose to read? The short answer is -- it doesn't. I can find hope and comfort in knowing that readers are reading and some wonderful stories are having an easier time finding an audience.
You kids can go ahead and read on the lawn all you want.