Liz Grzyb is the editor of the acclaimed paranormal romance anthology Scary Kisses and the forthcoming anthologies More Scary Kisses and Damnation and Dames. She is also the tireless reviews editor at Ticon4.
Liz lives and breathes the written word. Aside from her experience as an editor and reviewer, Liz is an English teacher by trade and an avid reader, to boot, so it was only natural that I’d ask her to participate in this discussion. Here are her thoughts:
“Books will always have a place”
Mmmm … books. I collect books rabidly, both hard copy and electronic, and the bookshelves just never have enough room. I do love the tactile quality of ‘real’ books – the texture of the paper, the cover, the weight in my hands, even that slightly musty aroma. But reading on my phone is pretty cool, too, apart from getting RSI in my thumb from turning the page much more frequently. Personally, I find reading more thought provoking texts or non-fiction a little more difficult in electronic format, but lighter novels are great. Something to do with the size of the page, perhaps, plus I like to make notes in the margins (I know the facilities exist to do this; I’m just not used to it). I also don’t tend to do much of my SF reading electronically; I read a lot of books for review and these are almost exclusively sent as hard copy, and many other books I’m interested in aren’t available in electronic format.
However, I read regency romances as icecream for the brain: sweet, light, and not terribly taxing to consume. The only authors I specifically collect in hard copy are Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney, mainly because their books aren’t easily available. I started collecting them at library discard sales and op shops in my teens, and when the Heyers were reissued in the late 90s, I filled a few holes in my collection. Only this week, however, I find Ms Heyer’s books are slowly becoming available in e-book format!
Electronic format is the perfect way for me to read this genre as e-books are easy to find, cheaper, and they can be deleted without having to make a trip to the Salvos. I have a terrible aversion to getting rid of books (“I might read it again someday, so I have to keep it!”), but I can usually convince myself to delete e-books once they’ve been read. Besides, I can always download it from the online store again once I’ve bought it, so it’s hedging my bets.
For a long time, it was difficult to get my hands on quality regencies in Australia, apart from the sporadic ones Mills & Boon brought out in their historical triplet series. I used to order them from the US, but when e-books became more easily available, I started buying them. Most of the ones I get are 1990s reprints between US$3 – 5, which is much cheaper than buying them in hard copy, especially when factoring in shipping. Plus I don’t have to find space on the shelf, and an almost instantaneous download is way better than the 2-3 month wait on sea mail from overseas!
It’s much more convenient to just have books loaded on my phone rather than lugging heavy books with me when travelling or catching public transport. My bag already has enough stuff in it! The only downside: I can’t read when the plane is taking off or landing as all electronics need to be switched off for that half an hour. But the fact I have a hundred books with me helps to alleviate that slight inconvenience – and I can read them in the dark without waking up the person next to me with the reading light.
The biggest frustration for me as an e-book reader was when I changed devices and I had to re-buy some of the secure e-books I’d previously bought. The reader programme I had been using wasn’t available on the new platform, and I wasn’t able to convert the book files as they were securely locked!
E-book covers are also notoriously bad. When people are buying the book based on the cover image and the blurb, just like when they buy at a bookstore, surely it’s worth spending just as much effort on the cover as a paper book? Many people have discussed the quality of writing in e-books, so I won’t go into the same arguments again. Since the e-books I buy are mainly reprints of previously published novels, I haven’t really found this an insurmountable issue.
I think e-books are here to stay, in one form or another, and as an editor, I’ll definitely be experimenting with the medium in the future. They are convenient to buy, easier on the wallet and on the bookshelf. On the other hand, I also believe print books will always have a place. They are more durable, tactile, and have more of an aura of the weightiness of words than electronic books. As others have said, there’s nothing quite like holding a real book of your own creation in your hands.
Liz Grzyb’s anthology, Scary Kisses, can be purchased (in print) from Indie Books Online.
The sequel, More Scary Kisses, can be pre-ordered from Indie Books Online.
The Grand Conversation on ebooks will run here at www.jiraiya.com.au until February 28. If you’d like to contribute a guest blog post, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in: writing