"I think it’s time for those of us who are addicted to reading to be a bit more vocal in our love of the best form of it possible: Digital books. Better for the environment. Larger type for the visually challenged. Text-to-speech for the blind. Lighter weight for the arthritic. Better access for the rural and the impoverished (ebooks can be read on existing devices, like phones. And even with a $49 e-reader, this is paid for in just a few purchases, or by going to Gutenberg.org).
Ereading is simply superior for those of us who love to read. You finish a book, and you can purchase and start another in minutes. You can go on vacation stocked up with new reads. You won’t even feel guilty if you don’t finish them all. And the more you read digital, the more you’ll wind up reading self-published works, which means more money going to artists and their freelance helpers, and less going to wasteful real estate in New York, to corporate suits, to lawyers, all of which leaves a pittance for the people whose works you enjoy.
This is why publishers need to rage against digital adoption. It’s why they need the support of those who equate a dated medium with the beautiful words that medium holds. Their lives depend on it. Their lives depend on the destruction of 30 million trees a year. But our reading habits don’t.
If you are an avid reader, I humbly suggest that you do yourself a favor and try an ereader. Check out the thousands of classics at Gutenberg.org that you can download and enjoy for free. Legally! These books are in the public domain. You could read classics for the rest of your life if you want. Or you can start checking out the many diverse voices that don’t make it into bookstores. Minority voices. Gay voices. Female science fiction authors and male romance writers. And all those who write in genres that readers love but that publishers think have been played out.
If you have a reader in your life, get them a Kindle. They start at a mere $69. It will change their lives. I’ve given most of the readers in my family Kindles over the last few Christmases. But it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. The challenge is to read a few great ebooks so that the same thrill we feel when we pick up a paperback is felt when we pick up our e-readers. It does happen, whether you believe it or not. It’s the stories we love. It’s the non-fiction we learn from. It’s the authors, not the imprints. Support them. Save the environment. Increase the amount you read, rather than the amount of books you display.
Publishers will fight this transition, but the rest of us should take a stand. And we should be honest, as authors, about why we are doing it. It’s not just good for readers, and good for the environment, and more democratic, with more diverse voices . . . it supports the lives of authors. And editors. And cover artists. And so many more. That 12.5% pittance becomes a 70% liveable wage. That difference has changed thousands of lives. It will keep changing lives, and changing the way we read, and we can help hasten that. We shouldn’t want to go backwards. And every indication is that we won’t.
More on that, and some very shocking results in the next AuthorEarnings report, due out soon. You’ll see what avid readers are doing to change lives. Until then, keep it up. Be proud. Brag about reading. Write reviews. Recommend ebooks to friends and family. Make a tree happy today."