In 2013, our debut novel Second Chances first entered this world as an e-book. Something new for a couple of old-fashioned bookworms like Leigh and me, and it was not a decision we made lightly. Before plunging into the so-called digital pool, we did our homework and learned that sales of electronic reading equipment were skyrocketing as e-readership surged into something that looked less like a trend and more like something that was here to stay. We also vetted our friends and families. It seemed everyone we knew and spoke with owned a Kindle, a Nook, or a tablet of some kind that provided them endless hours of relaxing reading.
A few years ago, my husband and son gave me a Kindle for my birthday. It was a thoughtful gift for the wife and mother who oft times abandoned them to curl up with a good book on our sunny window seat affectionately dubbed Turtle Rock. But this was no ink and paper book. Truth be told, I was a little suspicious of my new Kindle. How could it possibly compete with the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands, the pages rubbing rough against the pads of my thumbs? I was pretty sure it couldn’t. So I put the reader away for safekeeping, to be used some day.
That day came a few months later. I was going on a business trip to Vancouver, a seven-hour flight from Rhode Island. Instead of filling my carry-on bag with the weight and bulk of three or four books (I read a lot when I’m traveling), I decided to dust off my Kindle and download several titles that had caught my eye. Compact, light, with 24-hour access to an online bookstore, my birthday gift reader became my best travel companion.
There were so many reasons to publish Second Chances as an e-novel, not least of which was price. Most electronic books cost significantly less than print books. We were confident our book’s e-format was what consumers wanted, and we weren’t wrong. Many of our readers were thrilled with the digital format. But to our surprise and despite all the research showing otherwise, many more people still wanted to buy a ‘real’ i.e. paperback copy of the book. Second Chances was published in paperback the following year.
Taking a lesson from Second Chances, our second novel, The Pie Sisters, came out this month on Amazon in both paperback and e-formats. Early results have e-book sales edging out print by a modest lead. What can we learn from this? That there are pros and cons to both formats, but there are no clear sides to take. You don’t have to pick a favorite. For me, my reader is the only way to read while I’m traveling, but when I’m home, it’s paperbacks and hardcovers all the way.
Whether you read from electronic pages or print, or even both, remember it’s the words on the page that matter most. Enjoy the read.