Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love a Tree, Read an eBook

As part of the Green Writing Challenge, I made a commitment to pursue only non traditional publishing methods for one year. So off to eBook publishers I went. But was ePub really the way to go? Was this truly a good option to offer my readers?

I have five e-titles out now, and I can answer this with a resounding YES. I hear quite a few comments about why print books are preferable, but I'm here to shed light on the page. Here are some reasons to consider making your next reading purchase an eBook:

1. eBooks kill far fewer trees. I can't say NO trees, since the companies and authors producing them do likely use paper for marketing and correspondence. Still, eBooks are much more environmentally friendly than traditional, mass print run methods. POD (print on demand) improves on this approach quite a bit, but eBooks take that a big step further.

2. eBook production/consumption requires minimal fossil fuel use. Consider how many trucks, planes, vans, and automobiles are put into service shipping the hundreds of thousands of book titles (that's TITLES, not total books) put into production each year. eBook manufacture requires a miniscule fraction of all this energy consumption.

3. eBooks are less expensive than paper books. Typical prices for new eBooks run between two and six dollars, as opposed to between six and twenty-five dollars for a new print title.

4. eBooks take up much less room. Find yourself hanging onto favorite titles for years? Then you have to have room to store them, dust them, and lug them around when you move. eBooks can be kept forever with very little space (or dusting) required.

5. Paper books degrade/damage easily. Pages wear and tear, yellow, and eventually crumble. Hang onto your favorite stories far longer by backing them up on sturdier media.

6. Have trouble reading small print? With a regular book, you're only in control of the glasses you can put on your face to magnify print. With eBooks, you can tweak the font size itself so it's easier to read.

Despite the many advantages of eBooks, many people still cling to the idea that paper books are superior. A couple common reasons I hear are that paper books are more portable and easier to lend out. I disagree! Even the most avid reader would be hard pressed to tote around more than two or three books at a time (and that with a bit of shoulder strain). Yet one lightweight handheld reader, palm pilot, or smartphone allows you to "carry" many books with you at all times--with instant access to thousands more wherever you go (with online access). Books can be "beamed" to other readers, or CD copies easily lent--and are less likely to be returned damaged, torn, or with coffee stains on the cover!

Think only a few small potatoes authors are going eBook? Think again! Pocket readers are adding the likes of Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dean Koontz, and Michael Crichton to their libraries. What's more, eBook lending libraries are beginning to pop up on the Internet. "Borrow" titles by downloading to your reader. These expire at the end of the lending period. No more worries about lost books, late fees, or fines for accidental damage!

eBooks aren't a perfect medium, and I don't expect they'll replace our beloved paper books any time soon. But in a time where we are looking in every corner for ways to reduce impact on an overstressed planet, consider checking your book nook, too. Start small--just commit to one or two eBooks to try it out--and keep an open mind. If you don't want to rush out an invest in a reader and lack a smartphone, your desktop or laptop computer will do. Of course, if you want to test this out with one of my eBooks (see for details) I'd be thrilled! But any will do...and thank you for indulging your love of a good story AND Mother Earth!