Hands up who’s an e-convert? We chat to authors about how they’re adapting to reading novels on ebook devices…

Rosie Fiore, author of Babies in Waiting

Let me start by saying I’m a real reader: not one of those part-timers who pick up a holiday novel in the summer. I’ve had a two-or-more book-a-week habit since I was four. I love books, and I’ve heard every anti-e-book argument from other real readers. “Books have sentimental value,” “You can’t write notes in the margins of an e-book,” “I love the smell and feel of a book”… to which I say quite simply – do you have an iPod, MP3 player or music on your phone? Do you own DVDs or stream movies over the Net? Course you do. One technology doesn’t exclude another. If you love a physical book, keep it. If you love an album you have electronically, you may also buy it on CD or vinyl. If you love a movie, maybe you still have it on VHS as well as on your computer.

An e-reader means you have all your books with you, all the time. You can think of a book, buy it and read it wherever you are (something of a problem if you have no self-control like me). You can search your books, make notes, file them away in tidy collections. And you may think an e-reader would be strange to read on, but I guarantee within twenty pages of your first book, you won’t even notice that you’re not reading a conventional book. It can read aloud to you while you do the ironing, or are driving. But it’s more than that. Those are the rational and sensible reasons, and the advantages are clear, but the truth is, actually, I love my Kindle so much it’s a little bit sad. My family calls it “The third child”, and after husband, kids and cats, it’s the first thing I’d save from a burning building. It’s like carrying the best bookshop in the world with me, 24 hours a day. And how much would you love that?

Sue Welfare, author of One Night Only

I got my Kindle for Christmas, along with most of the rest of the world from the Amazon sales hype. Why do I like it? Well it’s light and really easy to use, you can’t lose your place, downloading books is shockingly easy – and also I *love* the idea of being able to download a sample to try before you buy. I also like the idea of being able to get magazine and newspapers on it.

I’ve downloaded around 30 things so far – amongst which are some collections of short stories. I’m so pleased to see people publishing collections of short stories as ebooks, which wouldn’t see the light of day in traditional publishing.

I really do love my Kindle – but in my mind it’s purely a delivery system – the stories are what I’m looking for. I will still be buying books – those in colour, those that are just fun to thumb through on a rainy day for ideas or inspiration. I see the Kindle as a way of delivering the books that I’ll probably only read once in whatever format they were delivered. That doesn’t mean lesser books but books I’ve bought as short-term entertainment.

Carole Matthews, author of Summer Daydreams

I got my first Kindle last autumn and I find it absolutely brilliant. It’s light, easy to use and stores loads of books. It’s great if you’re travelling. Normally I’d take between 6-10 books for a two-week trip, so it’s lovely to be able to take my Kindle and pack more shoes! The downside is that the one I have is only black and white. We need colour!
I think – I hope! – people will always want real books. If I’m at home, I still prefer to read a book rather than on my Kindle. I love to leaf through cookery books too and I can’t ever see an ebook replacing the pleasure of that experience. The plus side is that anyone can now publish their book without having to go through the conventional publishing route. That’s very liberating and authors can, if they want to, have total control over their own work. From cover to pricing.
I think the danger with ebooks is that readers now expect them to be very cheap or free. That’s driving down the price of books and I wonder if, in the future, it will be possible for writers to actually make a decent living anymore. That would be sad if the job of a novelist disappeared altogether.

Juliette Sobanet, author of Sleeping With Paris

I bought my Kindle last October, the week before my first book release on Amazon. I figured if my novel was going to be an ebook, I better get with the program! I was surprised by how much I love my Kindle! It’s thin, light and easy to slip in my purse so that I can read wherever I go. Besides having my own personal library with me at all times, I can also email documents to the Kindle, which has been incredibly useful during my editing process for my next book.

E-readers have made reading good books even more accessible to the masses and especially to those who are already glued to their iPads, iPhones, and other devices all throughout the day. With the rise in e-reading, we can now buy fabulous books at lower prices and store as many as we want on a tiny, slim device. In the comfort of our own homes, we can start a new book at the click of a button! What could be better than that?

I will always love the feel of holding a book, curling up with it at night, and pouring through the pages. Ebooks haven’t completely replaced that experience for me, but truth be told, when I find myself engrossed in a novel on my Kindle, I don’t notice the difference. A good story is a good story, period. We are now in an age where it doesn’t matter if that story is on the pages of an actual book or if we’re flicking through the pages of our e-reader.

The first time I walked into Barnes and Noble and saw that the Nook station was taking up the entire front of the store, I admit, I was wary of this change. I’d always dreamed of having my books in print and was scared that ebooks would take over the market.

Now, as an author with an ebook on Amazon, I realize this is one of the most incredible things to have ever happened. Authors now have the opportunity to promote online to an international, e-reading audience. The potential for authors to reach readers and to earn a substantial living doing what they love has never been greater.

Writers who’ve honed their craft and have written high-quality novels that simply were not picked up in New York now have the opportunity to publish their novels directly on the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc., and reach their readers directly. This opportunity has changed many writers’ lives – mine included – and is simply incredible. I feel lucky to be a writer and am excited to see what the future holds. And I’m also excited to get back on my Kindle and finish the great book I was just reading!

Amanda Egan, author of Diary of a Mummy Misfit

Some lovely friends surprised me just before Christmas with my Kindle – they thought it was ironic that I’d published for the format and didn’t have one myself.

It was great to finally see my ebooks the way my readers were seeing them. I’m amazed by it! I can download any book I want within seconds and it’s great for discovering all those fab indie authors. There’s no more trudging off to the bookshop or the library only to find that they don’t have the book that I want. As soon as I finish a book, I’ve either got a new one ready to go or it’s an instant download. And no more having to think about huge handbags to carry all my reading material around. Also most books are cheaper than hardcopy and many are free.

I’m in two minds about whether reading ebooks will ever replace picking up a novel. I think it will be a very slow process for novels to be replaced totally – if ever. As much as I love my Kindle, there’s still something lovely about holding (and smelling!) a ‘proper’ book.

But ebooks have totally changed the industry for authors. Publishers are missing out on some great new talent because it’s now possible for writers to take the indie route and reach their audience directly. Writers no longer need agents and publishers taking a cut – they can go solo and create their own success.

1 comment on “E-converts”

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