Ever since the e-book boom there have been a lot of discussions on the pros and cons of e-books and regular books. These discussions have often taken one in defense against the other, thus creating a sort of war between the e-book and the regular book. Clever writer and actor Stephen Fry said “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators”, which I thinks is a brilliant reflection on this matter. There is a time and a place for each format, and there is no reason why the two should not co-exist.
When the e-book format was launched a lot of people were afraid that it would be the end of the regular book and that book stores would close and publishing houses would go bankrupt, meaning many people would lose their jobs and we would no longer be able to buy regular books anymore. The same hysteria was created with the launch of the paperback book way back in the day. This cheaper and smaller version of the hard cover book sent chills all over the book industry. Now authors would be paid less, and “serious authors” would not agree to have their masterpiece printed in this cheap-looking format, was the consensus of this change at first. What we see now is that readers will buy both formats, and the cheaper paperbacks have caused readers to buy more books than they could have afforded if there was just a hard cover version out there. The same is now happening with e-books. But publishing houses have already recognized this new and popular format and usually offer an e-book version of their published books as well now.
Yes, the competition among all self published authors has created a price drop on e-books. On a market where millions of books are being published on sites such as Amazon, many authors feel the need to sell their work for pennies. But if you look at the medium price of an e-book, which varies between $ 2.99 to $7.99 depending on its length, this is basically the same as what the author would get from sales of the paperback version via a publisher. And even though a few book stores may have closed, new online book stores have popped up selling all three formats, and more (audio books). And we buy them. Some prefer a regular book, to be able to smell the pages and hold it in their hands and put it on their bookshelf. Some prefer the easily accessed e-book, for reading on the commuter train to and from work, on the holiday or whenever. If you have a favorite book series you probably want them in hard cover, to show off and to cherish for the rest of your life. If you are an avid reader, like me, you might buy all three formats.
So, not only do e-books and regular books co-exist, but they may also actually benefit off each other. One example of this is that new authors have been discovered through the e-book and self published market, such as Andy Weir who wrote The Martian. Moreover, the self publishing phenomenon has created new genres. There is no snobbishness in the e-book world, all genres are welcome. The erotica novel which has been banned from regular publishing is here to stay, with many subgenres such as romance erotica, thriller erotica, etc. The Sci-fi genre is blossoming, something that publishers and critics have noticed. In Sweden Sci-fi novels for teens are now being reviewed as “serious” literature. This is a big step. Huge. So, no matter what book format you prefer, keep reading! The book market is growing!