Me at the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together with Stephanie Collins of Book-A-Holic Anon. She won my Ruby basket in the raffle, so this is the triumphant celebration.
So, I’m going to go a bit eBook ranty today. Those of you sick of hearing about this from me may be excused. It’s Friday, after all, and the middle of June. Go frolic!
What triggered me this time is Stephen King. (Yet again, really. Something about this guy and his attitudes gets under my skin. I know this isn’t a popular position, since everyone seems to regard him as a demi-god who can do no wrong.) He announced in May (yeah, I’ve been brooding about this for a couple of weeks) that his new novel will be available in hardback only.** He retained the digital rights and so there will not be an eBook version soon, if ever. At least, not a legal one.
**UPDATE: I’ve been corrected on this. I read the article wrong and it’s “hard copy” only, not hardback. Apologies!
He said “let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”
Because, you know, those of us reading eBooks do so from sheer laziness. And you can’t buy hardback books online. Oh wait…
So, his ostensible reason is to support Independent Bookstores. I’m sure the fact that he and his publisher and his agent make the most money off a hardback is irrelevant. No, this is about sacred principle people. In fact, one of the bookstore folks quoted in the article said that unfortunately, many people would rather purchase books from their computer or mobile phone, than browse a bookstore. He went on to say, “I’d just as soon not have people buy their books while typing a thank-you note.”
Because buying a book is such a Special Thing that it’s rude to multi-task? Should we perform ritual cleansings first? Perhaps sacrifice a small mammal?
See, what irritates me about this is the underlying assumption that paper is what makes a book valuable and that bookstores should be treated like temples of the book. In fact, when I tweeted about this, someone replied that they had practically worshiped their hometown bookstore.
I get that. I really do. I loved loved loved my hometown bookstores – and my hometown libraries. They were places of refuge and they gave me what I desired most: books.
The thing is, however, that worship was never about the STORE. It was about the STORIES. It makes me think of the whole concept of false gods. There are many parables in religions all over the world of people focusing their prayers on golden idols, instead of on the concept of god. That’s always been the danger of the temple or the church – that the physical housing outstrips the reason for going there in the first place.
I like bookstores and I like paper books, but what’s important to me is the story. The medium of delivery is unimportant to me. I prefer eBooks because I can keep them without my home looking like it should be on Hoarders. I resent the implication that I somehow owe it to The Great Book God to “stir my sticks” and go to a store and buy a story on paper, because that’s somehow holier and more reverent.
I call B.S.
And what this reminds me of is that cray cray interview with Prince in Billboard. (I would have linked to the original article, not Gawker’s summary, but Billboard has it so buried there’s no evidence of the actual article on the direct link. At any rate, Prince spend a lot of time ranting about how his music will never be available digitally and that digital music is a fad that will die away.
I also have a friend from Texas who won’t get a website for her business because she thinks the internet is a fad and will disappear soon.
People don’t like change. I get that.
But let’s be realistic here. It’s not about the stores. It’s not about the paper.
Beware the false idols.