I’ve had a very mixed relationship with the whole idea of ebooks, for a while now. I guess it’s because I personally prefer to read a real book, turn pages, and so forth. I’ve always felt there’s more to a book than just the words in it. However, I am finally getting on-board with the ebook thing.
Convenience Counts for a Lot
Sure, I think a lot of people miss turning pages, but they also love the convenience of being able to take twenty books on any given journey and not have it weigh anything at all. So you give a little here and you get a little there.
While I’ve been living in my little world of paper books and filled bookcases, climbing on ladders to reach dusty, long-forgotten tomes like some ancient ogre in a medieval castle, the e-book revolution has been going like gangbusters.
Millions of people have been reading a lot more than they would otherwise, expanding their interests into new genres, and making some of the world’s quirkiest writers famous. Sometimes even making them rich, as well. Most interestingly, to me, e-book people have a much more flexible concept of what a novel is, which is not so much new, but old-fashioned.
A New Kind of Textual Variety
With the advent of e-books and the freedom to diverge from typical publishing standards, we as a culture have actually reverted to an old concept, where the lengths of novels are less set in stone. Back a hundred years ago, we used to have novellas and novelettes, as well as novels. That just means the current average word count of 60,000-words, or so, for a novel, isn’t so strict anymore. Now, we have novelettes at up to 18,000 words and novellas at up to 40,000. You’re not going to see these alternate formats in book stores; they’re exclusively a part of the e-book phenomenon.
One of the big advantages of these shorter formats is they enable readers to shop around more for authors they like. Shorter books means you can read more of them, and you can expose yourself to so many more authors, styles, genres, and characters than ever before. If, in this whirlwind of options, you find an author you like, all you have to do is subscribe to his or her list and you’ll get updates whenever a new book comes out, then you can order it and have it on your e-reader within minutes. So, basically, books you like now come directly to you. It’s like being hooked up to a literature I.V.
After All, Books are Just Words
It’s interesting the change that occurs, in readers, when a book is reduced to its most essential component: just words. Interestingly, people still read them. Words really are that powerful. It’s very reassuring, actually. As an author, I feel like it frees me up to be myself more, and to reach out to that niche of weirdos that might just love the stuff that comes out of my imagination. Who knew?