Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Is an E-book a Real Book?

What’s REAL anyway?
A writing colleague asked the other day, “is an E-book not a real book?”
She had a reason to ask it this^ way. Her debut novel, traditionally published, was published as an E-book no paper edition. Her parents, not much older than I am, asked when she’ll have a real book published.
The first dictionary definition I found said---
BOOK: A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
But we know dictionaries are properly conservative, and always a bit behind the curve.
In substance, more than form, a book is its content. So E-books are real books. That said- why do I have the need to print a paper copy of every manuscript, even after saving to another computer, to a flash drive, and finally, to The Cloud?

{And what kind of Cloud never makes rain, anyway? Take that, Dictionary.}

I have a dear friend, a generation plus older than I am, who scoffs at E-books. But same friend and I have not met face-to-face or spoken on the phone in over ten years. We live very far apart and communicate, almost daily, via E-mail. Bet my friend considers our friendship real.
And my kiddos, a generation and a half younger than me, don’t even understand the distinction. Much of their life is E-life. Even their real homework often knows no paper.
I was thinking about all this yesterday, when sending out invitations to my debut novel’s Launch Party. In a way, although the book (real paper) came out in August, its launch then was all virtual. This Sunday The Voice of Thunder will have its first real, hence “launch,” party. You know, real tea with real cookies. Not-

And hopefully, real guests.
So if you’re anywhere near, I’d *really* love to meet you. Here’s a, ahmm, virtual invitation-
When: This Sunday, January 13, 3:00pm. (Yup, tea & cookies time. And my book too.)
Where: Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Avenue, Berkeley CA 94705
Who: Me, my book The Voice of Thunder, and hopefully a few friends. Maybe you?
What: Reading, answering all questions, (about anything and everything) and having nice tea-time refreshments.
Why: because it is a truth universally acknowledged that every new book is in need of a party...

^ {for real} ^
Back to the beginning.
I’m of the school that the most real is neither seen with the eyes nor of this world. Call it imagination, or give it a theology.
It’s been real.


  1. I enjoyed this post, Mirka! And agree with what you had to say about it. The CLOUD joke... funny! So true! Just sent my last picture book art via ftp. Is digital art "REAL" art? Traditionalists might say no... since there is no "original art." My digital art gets sent via digital ways--- but it does end on real printed paper. :-)

    You will have an amazing time at your party!

  2. Since both of my books are digital only, I've had similar debates (some of them in my own head) about what a "real" book is. Well, I know my books are real. Someone may not be able to (or choose not to...because anyone with a computer can read my books) read my books because they are "only" digital, and that's okay. Not everyone in the world is going to read any one book, digital or print.

    Wish I could attend your launch, Mirka. It's a bit of a trek from Connecticut, though! :) I'll be there in spirit, and that's real too!

  3. I held off on getting an ereader, but now that I have one I read more books than ever. Many I read on my new Kindle, but I still read print (bought and borrowed) too. Ebooks are just as real as print books!

    Your launch party sounds fun--wish I lived close enough to attend!

  4. Books don't have to be physical to be real. Not at all. :)

  5. Our thoughts are real too. I do so enjoy the physicality of everything (even as my cat is biting my knuckles and purring) and happy you will have a party with your book and cookies and people! Enjoy!!!

  6. Real or not, E books are flooding the airways today. I had a conversation with my critique partners about them last night, and read a few blog posts about them today. I'm a crossover and love them both.

    Good luck at your launch party. If I lived closer, I'd be there.

  7. Yes, e-books are real books. A book is its content.

    I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't prefer my own books to be in print. But what most people mean when they say "real" is "tangible," and they aren't the same.

  8. My work always "feels" more real in print, but we all know feelings aren't reality -- they're just chemicals in our brains. So...yeah.