How should you read my new novel, Bacon and Egg Man? Obviously, with a work of art this layered and so thematically complicated, one must approach it carefully. After all, what do we mean when we say “bacon”?
Where was I? Oh, how should you read my book?
With your eyes!
But seriously, some folks seem to get a little confused or ashamed or something when it comes to ebook vs. paper books. In general, I don’t care how you read the book as long as you read the damn thing. Specifically, in the case of Bacon and Egg Man, it’s actually in my financial interest if you read the ebook. Put simply, I get a bigger cut of the price off of ebook sales. And the money shows up faster, too. Instead of waiting over a year to get a convoluted royalty statement that requires deciphering by a high priest, ebook sales will be reported on a monthly basis.
That’s right. If you pay for an ebook, I can convert your money into bourbon before Easter!
Where do I stand on the ebook vs. paper debate? I don’t really. I’m certainly not one of these smug Luddites who thinks that a book only counts if printed on heavy-weight paper and purchased at an independent bookstore that has a cat in the window and read while wearing a sweater with elbow patches and sipping Earl Grey by oil lamp (of course, the oil would be whale oil and Sag Harbor and Nantucket would not be places for rich people to summer, but rather bustling villages stinking with the rot of whale flesh.)
Hey, I’m quite fond of the stacks and stacks of books taking up a great deal of space in our Brooklyn apartment. Some of them I might even read again!
But the fact is, aside from gifts for other people, it’s been awhile since I’ve bought a paper book. Ebooks are convenient, come with a built-in light, don’t weigh a ton, don’t require precarious page turning when my hands are otherwise full on the subway and, on those occasions when I am reading absolute crap, allow me to hide that fact from the rest of the world.
They also allow impulse buys, very important to someone like me. In fact, my decision to buy an ereader was made when I was stuck on a plane with the second Steig Larsson book. I’d given the dead Swede a chance on the first, but about thirty pages into the second, he’d given Lisbeth a boob job and gotten the details of a hurricane so laughably wrong (I’m a weather nerd) that I closed the book in disgust. And had nothing to read. Never again, I said! (Which scared the people sitting next to me.) Even my ereader purchase was impulse. I went with the Nook because I could walk into a store and get it rather than wait all of two days for Amazon to ship a Kindle.
I still buy paper books for personal reasons — usually sentimental ones. Say, if a friend writes a novel that I hope to one day get signed. Or if it’s a book heavy on graphics. Or if it’s a book that I hope to keep forever. I dragged all two and a half pounds of the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography around on the subway a couple of years ago. And I’ll likely do the same when the next volume comes out. Actually, that’s not only for sentimental reasons. It’s for showing off, too. And for taking notes. Sure, you can highlight on an ereader, but it’s a pain in the ass. And you can’t make notes in the margins. And going back to find them is hard–even harder if you switch ereaders.
Like I said, it’s in my financial interest for readers to buy the ebook of Bacon and Egg Man. But that’s not always the case. Premier Digital Publishing is an e-native company and they offer generous terms. Traditional publishers give ridiculously low rates for ebook royalties and have been accused of undercounting ebook sales.
Of course, a person could always buy both versions of the book. Authors really, really like that.