I might feel differently when I publish my first novel. But currently, I dislike eBooks. No matter how many hundreds of pounds of tangible books I have to lug around with me until I finally settle down, I will never, ever, purchase a Kindle, Kobo Vox, Aluratek LIBRE, or any other eBook reader.
So when I read that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo (won in 2002 for his book "Empire Falls") refused to allow his new novel to be sold as an eBook, I was pleased.
The 62-year-old said in a BBC interview that his new work Interventions, a collection of four volumes, is a "tribute to the printed book." Russo is not completely anti-online booksellers. He just doesn't "want them to control the world." He said he wanted his new work to give people a "book book experience."
Despite being an early fan of online publishing, Stephen King's next horror story "Joyland," out in June 2013, will only be released in (tangible) book form too. King said he decided against an eBook because he "loved the paperbacks [he] grew up with as a kid."
I agree with these authors' plight.
But I realize that it's easier for these veteran writers to make this decision - they already have notoriety and, most importantly, money. It is difficult for new writers to make such demands, since most new authors want to reach as many people as possible ... increasingly does that mean publishing an electronic version of their manuscript (there was a 366 percent growth in consumer eBooks in 2011, according to chief executive of the Publishers Association, Richard Mollet).
Take E. L. James' "50 Shades of Grey" for example.
I personally hated the novel. We read it for book club and think the plot and characters are unbelievable and poorly written, and that the message is not as progressive as many argue. To boot, there's just something intimate - something je ne sais quoi - lacking.
But it doesn't matter what I think. It topped the New York Times' best-seller list on downloads alone. And it is all because James put her "racy" tale on a personal domain called 50shades.com. An independent Australian publisher saw the material and turned her website into a book, which was largely purchased as an eBook. Sales were so good that the corporate publishing industry raced for the rights, with Random House winning the bid. Since then the book has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and was followed by two best-selling sequels.
Admittedly it's a dream come true for any new writer.
"She became famous because eBooks are a more efficient way to read," my pro-eBook friends argue.
But I wonder: did the book deserve to become a best seller?
In a recent eBay commercial, a man is in a business meeting and finds himself being the only one in the room without a tablet computer - he has decided to use pen and paper. While his co-workers relentlessly rib him (mock him for being a caveman and living in the 16th century), he uses his cell phone's eBay app to buy a tablet of his own.
All of his eProducts made him more efficient. But what was he losing by not using a pen and paper? This is the same kind of question I find myself asking of eBooks versus regular books.
A considerable part of the appeal for eAnything stems from its blending of distance with intimacy, or the illusion of distance with the illusion of intimacy. Consider our personal and pseudo-personal relationships on Facebook.
eBooks denies us a disconnection whose profundity we have underestimated: the chance to rest our eyes, to get off the computer, to forget ourselves for a while (minus the looming distraction of the Internet). Sure, they allow people to make connection with the material more easily. But a connection is not the same thing as a bond.
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com