Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Author Guest Post - Elisa Lorello

Readers, please join me welcoming Elisa Lorello, author of Ordinary World, who's guest blogging here today!
E-books and print books can co-exist

Perhaps it was because I was raised to believe that people of different backgrounds can live together harmoniously. Perhaps it’s because I’m an eternal optimist. Perhaps it’s because I’m trying to please everyone. Nevertheless, I believe e-books and print books can co-exist.

There’s no doubt that the Amazon Kindle has changed the reading landscape and rattled the publishing industry. Just like what Napster and iTunes did for indie musicians and the music industry at the turn of the century, e-publishing has made it possible for an unknown author like me to be recognized. It’s also true that bookstores, especially the independent stores, are suffering, and that part troubles me. I’m a huge indie bookstore fan. Huge. I’m equally a huge fan of the tactile book. The sturdiness of a hardcover, the flexibility of a paperback, the smell of the printed page…I love it all. I’m also a Kindle best-selling author. So how do I reconcile these two sides of me?

The first step to co-existence is focusing on what unites us rather than divides us: a love of reading. For some, the Kindle and other e-readers have reunited people who had long given up on pleasure reading. For those who were already longtime bookworms, they provided a new way to enjoy their books. One of my friends, a voracious reader since she was a kid, said, “I haven’t stopped buying or loving tactile books just because I have a Kindle. But there are times—like going on vacation, for example—when the Kindle makes reading so much more accessible.”

In music, synthesizers can replicate any instrument so precisely that an average listener probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But strings, horns, woodwinds, and percussion instruments haven’t become obsolete. Nor have musicians, and there’s nothing better than watching a jazz player or a rock guitarist jammin’ away, sweeping us up in the passion of the music. And yet, it takes an equally talented musician and engineer to master the digital sound. So goes it with books. It’s true that nothing beats the feeling of holding a book in your hand (especially if it’s one you’ve written!)—but when a story has been carefully crafted and refined, it holds up in both print and electronic form.

And what about audiobooks? Don’t they count? Aren’t they just one more way to enjoy reading? I listen to audiobooks in my car as part of my daily commute. Many times I’ll choose a book on audio that I wouldn’t typically choose in print. My selections with an e-reader would follow this same pattern.

In terms of a business model, there’s got to be a way to bring print and e-books together in a way that makes money for everyone. Rather than resist the shift in the publishing paradigm, publishers, booksellers, and authors need to embrace it. One possibility is to allow independent authors to upload their e-book files to an indie store’s website (on consignment, just as a brick-&-mortar arrangement), where customers can purchase and download books directly from that site. I’m sure similar arrangements can be made with traditional publishers as well. Barnes & Noble are selling their e-readers in their stores. (The price wars are an entirely different blog post, but one that also needs to be reconciled.)

And indie authors, this is your time to step up! Digital technology meant that musicians who couldn’t break into the market finally had a chance to reach the masses. A lot of good music rose to the top, but there was a lot of bad stuff out there too. Listeners became quite savvy in terms of weeding out the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. Readers are following this same path. They’re weeding out the bad writing to get to the good. If you want to be one of the good, then you’ve got to hone your craft. Read as much as you can. Get honest, reliable feedback. Get editors and proofreaders. Design a professional-looking cover, or hire one to design it for you. Know your market. Most importantly, tell a good story with compelling characters.

E-books and print books can peacefully co-exist. Like the song says, we just need to give it a chance.

Elisa Lorello currently lives in North Carolina and is the author of two novels. Her latest, Ordinary World is the sequel to Faking It. Ordinary World is available in print at ( and on Amazon Kindle ( or Smashwords ( . For more information, please visit Elisa’s blog “I’ll Have What She’s Having”, her website, or follow her on Twitter @elisalorello.
Thanks for that insightful post, Elisa.What you've said gets truer by the day. Readers, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This blog post is part of a virtual book tour by WOW! Women on Writing
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