I have this conversation with a lot of people. I tell them I work with ebooks, that I enjoy making them and even reading them, too. “But what about print?” they ask. “How can you be a part of the demise of print publishing as we know it and the collapse of the industry?” (That last part may be a dramatization).
But those people have it all wrong. I love print. I have a tiny bedroom in an apartment in Boston that is positively overflowing with books – I’ve filled more than two bookshelves, and the ones that won’t fit on the shelves are currently organized two deep on a small table. And yet I also have a Kindle Fire, an iPad Mini, and an iPhone with four different e-reader apps downloaded onto it. It’s not a case of either/or – just because I love ebooks and think they have their place in publishing doesn’t mean I think print should die. I love to read my print books when I’m relaxing at home. When I’m just looking to browse for books, I’ll stop by a bookstore to see what they have to offer – and then actually buy the books there, not on Amazon later that day.
But when I’m taking the subway during rush hour, crushed up against numerous other people, my personal bubble completely and utterly collapsed, I love the fact that I can pull out my iPhone, open an ebook, and read. I love the fact that I don’t have to dig through my backpack for a paperback I don’t have the room to hold out in front of me. When I’m at the gym, I love that I can just put my iPhone on the shelf on the machine and not have to worry about the pages staying open. My iPhone is always with me, which means my ebooks are always with me as well.
The bottom line: when it comes down to it, I would prefer owning a print copy to an ebook copy. To me, the substance of a print copy, the way it lines up on my bookshelf, and the fact that I can do with it whatever I please are things that an ebook currently can’t provide. But the absolute convenience of my ebooks outweighs many of their downsides, and, in the end, as long as people are reading, isn’t that enough? Print books will be around for the foreseeable future, but so will ebooks – people just need to realize that they can coexist and that they both have their time and their place in publishing. It’s not an “or” – as in, “Do you prefer print books or ebooks?” It’s an “and.”
Last week, I finished all of the content for my Sherlock Holmes Choose-Your-Own-Adventure project. There are 16 different ways to go through the story, with six different endings which range from solving the case to Sherlock being escorted away by the police. It’s based on A Scandal in Bohemia, so the decision to have one of the endings be solving this case was actually one I wrestled with since the central theme of A Scandal in Bohemia is that Holes is bested by Irene Adler. But in the end, I decided that this was my project and that I would allow the reader to solve the case – if they make the right decisions, of course.
So now I get to start making it into an interactive ebook. Features I’m planning on including include a cluepad to help you solve the case, a map of major locations in the story, and an option once you finish to go back to the beginning and see how Holmes did it, which highlights the choices that lead to the actual story as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I’m excited about where this is heading! Now I get to play and see what I can do.
Luckily for me, this year’s AWP conference was in Boston, so, although I was working on Thursday and Friday, I headed over on Saturday for the chance at buying more books than I have money and/or time for. I came away with 22 new books/literary journals/magazines, some free, some not. Getting to walk the bookfair (all three, huge exhibition halls of it) was awesome, and I also got to go to a great panel on Ray Bradbury by the editors and three of the authors of
Shadow Show. Now all I want to do is read and write, and, of course, I have time to do neither. Maybe after I graduate…
As I get deeper into my Sherlock Holmes directed study, I actually found it incredibly tricky to keep all the paths I was mapping out through the choices straight. How much do I have to write? How does it branch off from the original material? How can I even begin to keep what I still need to do straight and the paths and consequences of each choice together? How do you organize a non-linear story?