Is an eBook a Book?

What is a book? Is it the paper that it’s printed on? Would it still be a book if all its pages were blank? Technically – yes it would, but it would be a book to write in rather than a book to be read. An eBook is a book. Even one day in the far future when we read by hologram or crystal brain implant, books will always be books. To some, the pleasure of reading a book includes the feel of it in their hands, and the pleasure of turning an actual page. These days I find reading eBooks a lot more pleasant, although I still enjoy paper now and then. Paper books cost more than eBooks because of the production costs, but at the end of the day what we are selling isn’t paper, it is the stories within. We need to look at eBooks for what they are – books, and give them the same love when we publish them as we would our paper books. They need everything in them that you would put in or on a paper book, and that includes a blurb. About This Book.

I’ve mentioned this before in passing, but I think it deserves its own conversation. When you buy a paper book, you look on the back to see what it’s about. If it’s by an author that you recognise and love there will be the familiar titles that you’ve read in the first pages of it to nudge your memory. When you take that book home and put it on your bookshelf to read later, it will still have those things many months later when you’ve forgotten all about buying it amongst your other pile of book purchases if you’re a voracious reader, as most writers are. If for some reason the book description were to completely disappear, possibly it’s not written by an author you know, you’ve totally forgotten what it was about, and all you’re left with is cover art, would you choose to read it straight away rather than another book with all that about the book information still there?

We need to stop thinking of eBooks as not real because they’re not physical in the real sense of the word. I actually think that they are physical in the real sense of the word. A book isn’t about the packaging it comes in. Whether it’s hardback, paperback, or written in flowing longhand on individual toilet paper sheets smuggled out of a prison, a book is the story. It’s the reading of it that counts. I love reading on my Kindle – I love reading on my Kindle for PC more – such a lovely big page with lovely non-eye straining print. I don’t love eBooks not having About This Book pages, and because of my book hoarding tendencies I’m pretty sure that I’m missing out on some fabulous reads, not to mention wasting a pile of money buying books that I know I’ll love at the time, but don’t have the time to invest in finding out about what they’re about when I’m looking for a read months later. Fair enough, I do have over a thousand books downloaded, and a thousand odd more on my cloud reader, but I’m sure so do a lot of other avid readers.

When I open an interesting looking read on my Kindle, I want to know what it’s about. I also want future readers of my own books not passing over them because they’ve forgotten why they bought them. It’s a simple matter of copying and pasting your book blurb into a dedicated page of your front matter with the heading About This Book that might give you a better chance of your books being read, especially if you have it on free or discounted promotions. That’s when we hit the download button to keep for later. I’m always finding books that I’ve bought a couple of years ago at full price that I have to go back to their Amazon pages to read the blurb before I know if I feel like reading them at the time, and most of the time when I’m looking for a new read I don’t do that – I just move on to the next book. It might be well worth your while to head over to Amazon and reload your eBooks with their blurbs added if you don’t already do this.

e-book-reader-hi

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24 thoughts on “Is an eBook a Book?”

    1. You’re right Olga, and I totally agree, but I reckon a good blurb could be quite short and still do the job. I’ve actually opened a couple of Look Insides on Amazon and not seen any portion of the book itself at all – just pages and pages of reviews and things – never bought a single one regardless of the great reviews. You have to see if you like the writing or not.

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    1. Thank you Noelle! I thought it was Russian and I have absolutely no clue what it actually means, so I hope it’s not rude or something. 😛 I was looking for a picture of a Kindle speedily, and zoomed over to Clker and this one kept popping up.

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  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Story telling has evolved through so many mediums from orally passing on tales and drawing on cave walls. Ebooks are one of the latest but will not be the last method by which we tell our stories.. It is also another milestone in publishing history and should be recognised for the amazing advance that it is. Never before have books been so accessible to nearly all the world where there is some form of technology.. Amazing. Thanks Jo for reminding us what a gift it is.

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    1. Thank you Sally! The oral tradition is huge here in Africa which I hadn’t thought of till you mentioned it. And also what you say about accessibility – so many old out of print books for free for all to read these days. It’s a reading lover’s dream, and a huge gift indeed.

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