A Conundrum

Two Choices

A few weeks ago I pulled off my bookshelf, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  Now the first time I read this was many years ago, before Oprah found it, and I borrowed it from the college library where I worked.  Now this was a very good thing because as a faculty member I didn’t have to return the book in two weeks.

It’s a huge book but I was teaching full time, being busy as a wife and mother and all the tasks that was part of those roles.  And while I read every day, my reading time was limited—so I needed more than two weeks to finish the book.

Because I loved the book so much the concept and the general plot stayed with me all these years.  A few years ago I purchased the soft cover version as I knew I wanted to read it again.  I pulled it off my shelf and started reading it, discovering all over again why I remembered this book.

But my hands objected.  My hands have developed some arthritis and holding that large book became very difficult.  Because it’s so heavy.  And the print is small.  Instead of becoming engrossed once again in the story, all I could think about was how much my hands hurt, how heavy the book was, and the eye strain.

You guessed it; I set the book aside.  Fear not, my hubby picked it up and is reading Pillars now. But I wanted to read it.  So I checked to see if it was available on Kindle.  You guessed it.  I’m happy because now I have it on my lightweight Kindle where I can adjust the font to the best size for me.  Sure Pillars will take me a while to read it, but it will be so much easier.

The situation brought home to me a very important concept.  Any books I buy in the future will have to be light weight and NOT in incredibly small print.  I guess that’s a reason why I’ve been drawn to trade size paperbacks—the print is generally larger, darker and the book while larger than the usual size paperback still fits in my purse but is easier for me to hold.

Anyway, I’m very happy with my Kindle and today I was at my writers’ group picnic meeting and a spontaneous discussion evolved about e-readers, who has them, what they like and don’t like about them.  I’m not quite sure how this discussion developed but I added why I liked my Kindle.  Others were talking about the ones they have.  So here’s a group of writers who are also talking about digital book readers of various kinds and investing in them.

Which brings me to a few news items I’ve read in the last few weeks. For example two print publishers, Dorchester and Medallion, are going to digital versions of all books first and after a few months, then maybe a print cover book.  Amazon’s Kindle books outsold hardcover books for the first time.  The publishing world as it was twenty years ago, even ten years ago, is changing.  Even Barnes and Noble appears to have its problems.

Sailing Choices

What does all this mean to me as a writer?  I suspect I’ll be learning new ways of doing things.  The process for getting published may be an even more difficult journey than it is now.  The steps are likely also to have changes.  And that’s just what I think at the moment without deep thought.  But I know I will find excitement in the journey.

What I know will stay the same?  That writers will still write great stories.  We will find our readers.  And we will find new methods of connecting our stories with them.

What do I know as a reader?  Whether I read a book or a digital version, I can depend on the writers in this world to keep those books coming in whatever format evolves.  I will be waiting.  I know others will also.

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6 Comments on “A Conundrum”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    I think it’s an exciting time ahead. Writers have more And isn’t it great to have the Kindle rather than suffer through reading the heavier, print version? We’re luckier that way than our parents were.

  2. Elle J Rossi Says:

    I think the changes are happening far more quickly than most predicted. Sometimes I find it sad, but other times I find it exciting.

    I also have a Kindle and I love it. The only thing I would change would be to add a light for night time reading.

  3. Deb Maher Says:

    As much as I love the past, we must stay in touch with what our future is bringing. I love the smell and feel of books, and knowing the wonder of the stories inside. But it isn’t the format that matters so much as the stories themselves.

    Personally I’m still a year or two away from a Kindle (or a Nook), but I know that time is coming.

    Love your posts, MJ. You always make me think!

  4. caseyclifford Says:


    I so agree this is an exciting moment in time, but also a bit frightening–will we make the right choices? But I guess our writing and the publishing world reflects our real lives. We often feel frightened or apprehensive when we are faced with challenges that demand choices.

    Be sure to yell out for CATITUDE!

  5. caseyclifford Says:


    I’m still a book buyer if I can get it in the trade version and it’s not available in Kindle and I must read it NOW. Then some books I buy after I’ve read them on Kindle just because holding a book you love is priceless. 🙂

  6. caseyclifford Says:


    Welcome back! I figured your techie family would have you hooked up with some type of digital reader before now. I’m always following in your footsteps. And love it. After all this blogging adventure is one you insisted I pursue and pushed to me set it up one night in Portland, ME. Ah…memories. 🙂

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