Writer's Notes

Books versus e-books?

By Thonie Hevron

I answered a question from a member of Sisters-in-Crime last week. She will post it on her blog but only portions because of space constraints. I don’t have such worries so here goes:

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Print book versus e-book? I’m not much help to tip the choice to one side or the other. I like both. E-books have a “disposable” quality to them that I prefer–sometimes. Genre fiction can be bubble gum for the brain. If I start an e-book and several pages into it, decide I don’t care for it–it’s history. On the other hand, some authors like Michael Connelly, PJ Parrish and Robert Crais write so eloquently (word economy, delicious settings, layered characters) that I will buy the print copy and underline. Sometimes, studying the way a paragraph is organized, or a protagonist is portrayed can teach me, as a writer, so much.

For traveling, you can’t beat an e-book. I was on a cruise once and finished my paperback. We were at sea and I had nothing to read. I went to the library, but finding a book that wasn’t in Swedish or German was difficult. When I finally came across one, I read it for two days then had to turn it in without finishing it because it was time to debark. My husband and I bought Kindles when we got home.
In 2011 in a speech to Redwood Writers Club in Santa Rosa, Peter Behren, a Bay Area Literary Agent, suggested publishing would evolve into offering “bundles”. This is just what it sounds like: buy an e-book and a print copy together. That way a reader has the choice to read whatever media he/she wants at any given time. So far, I haven’t seen much evidence of staying power on this type of offer. Personally, when my second book is published this year, I hope on “bundling” my first e-book with the second e-book or print copy or some variation of that. 
One thing is for sure: publishing is on the move and changes are the new rule. I don’t think there is any final outcome to the industry. It will keep evolving, morphing into whatever the reader finds most suitable at the time.