Monday, February 6, 2012

Paper or Plastic? (Also a Giveaway)

Usually the paper or plastic conundrum arises in the context of you standing at the checkout stand of a store.

Choose plastic and save a tree. Wait! Paper means you're reducing the pollution factor of plastic in favor of a renewable resource. OK, so paper is better. Except, all those poor trees...  Or, do you produce your own bag? I have one of those nifty Chico bags that folds up smaller than my fist and expands into quite a large bag suitable for carrying just about anything. I keep it in my purse.

Sometimes I do wish things were more straightforward. In fact, what I wish is for the groceries to magically appear in my house. When I need fresh batteries, I want to open the drawer and find exactly what I need, right there, as if I never forgot to buy AA's when I went shopping last week. It's a delivery system that has yet to be perfected, though I remain hopeful for a breakthrough. (3-D printer?)

There's a similar dilemma in the book world. Now when I make my reading purchase decision I must ask myself, paper or plastic? By which I mean, paper book or eBook? Analogue or Digital?

Resistance is Futile.  Or Is it?

Despite laughably and, it seems to me, willfully ignorant, defenses of paper books (see, eg Jonathan Franzen's remarks) there's nothing wrong with preferring to read in paper. Nor is there something evil about preferring to read an eBook.

I've compiled a table of differences that is in no way exhaustive:

Event Paper eBook
Read in Bath Yes Yes (Zip-Lock Bag!)
Read in Shower No Yes (Zip-Lock Bag!)
Water Disaster resistance Poor. Very Poor
Durability of Content Variable High
Complexity of Device Low Medium
Self-Contained Yes No
Can Read in Dark No Yes, but device dependent
Cost Variable Variable
Ease of updates and corrections Low High
Instantly searchable No Yes
Likelihood of Equipment failure Pretty low Medium
Likelihood that container will become obsolete so you have to buy a new or different one Variable Inevitable
Weight Variable Ounces
Portability Variable High
Durability of Container Highly variable Variable
Dropping disaster resistance High Height Dependent
Fire Resistance Low High (for content)
Extended Warranty for Container No Available
Number of stories in Container Limited Unlimited (assuming cloud storage)
Travel required to obtain content Usually No
Time between purchase and reading, including travel or delivery time Days to Minutes Less than 30 seconds
Space required for TBR Out of Control None

I could go on and on and, to be honest, doing so would be pretty amusing.

My Own Experience

For a long time, I couldn't afford a dedicated reader. Prices have come down considerably, and now I can. I have an iPhone and for an embarrassingly long time I assumed there was no point trying to read on such a small screen. How fun would that be? Then one of my favorite authors ever sent me an advance copy of one of her books. I loaded it up on my phone (easy enough to do) and I discovered I was WRONG about reading on a small screen. It was no problem at all. In fact, I LOVED it.

Then I got an iPad and whoa. Even MORE fun and convenient. With an eReader, I'm highly unlikely to run out of stuff to read. I spend much much more on books now, and I spent a lot before.

I do, however, continue to purchase research books in print. eBooks are not yet at a place where they exceed the ability of print to show and display content like photographs, diagrams etc. I recently purchased two print books on houses in London and Mayfair. Both these books rely on photographs and artwork to convey the history of houses. Though I can easily imagine a time when technology solves the display of information issues, it's not well-solved yet. I would urge you, however, to take a look at the app The Elements, which is a tour-de-force of the display of visual information in a meaningful way. It's coming...

What about You?

So, where are you on the paper vs. Plastic issue? Let me know in the comments!

The Giveaway

My historical romance, Not Wicked Enough, releases today!

Berkley Sensation
February 7, 2012
ISBN: 978-0425246603

When Lily Wellstone heads to the Bitterward Estate to comfort her widowed friend Eugenia, she certainly does not have romance in mind. In fact the playful but level-headed Lily is amused to no end when, en route, a gypsy gifts her with a beautiful medallion, claiming it will ensnare the romantic desires of a stranger.

But Fate has other plans in the form of Eugenia’s ruggedly handsome brother, the Duke of Mountjoy. One day at Bitterward and Lily can’t deny the sizzling attraction between her and the roguish duke. Nothing can come of it, of course. She’s not looking for entanglements and he's practically engaged. But whether it’s her outgoing nature and the duke’s outlandish ways sparking off one another; or the mysterious gypsy medallion working “magic”—hearts are stirring in the most unexpected and wicked ways…

Read Chapter 1 of Not Wicked Enough

Buy Not Wicked Enough

I'll send one random commenter a paper or digital copy of Not Wicked Enough. Here's the rules:

Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 or older to enter. You MUST leave me a way to contact you if you win. I will send a paper book anywhere mail goes. I cannot, however, guarantee that I can send or provide a digital version to someone outside the US, as that availability is entirely controlled by my publisher. I will gift a digital version where the vendor permits such gifting, so if your preferred vendor doesn't permit that you'll be stuck with print.

Leave your comment by midnight Pacific February 14. I will select a winner at random around February 15 or 16.


  1. The only thing you missed in your list for me is that with an ebook you can change the font size. Books lately seem to be making the print smaller and smaller. So now I'm mostly all ebooks.

  2. I usually accept plastic whe use them to dispose of pampers and other unmentionables!

  3. So, so funny Carolyn!! I myself, prefer paper. Wait, was that the real book? Because I prefer a real book. I will read on an e-reader from time to time, but for me, there's just nothing like the feel and smell of a book.

    Congrats on the new release! Looks good and steamy!!

  4. I have to say that I'm not as crazy about my kindle as I could be. Can't find pages I read earlier easier. Plus I can't pass the books along to friends. However, I do love audiobooks for long drives and they're definitely in the electronic department.
    Great luck with your new book.

  5. I like both. I have a nook and have about 600 books on it. It is very convenient to take and have different selections of books to read. I still have to have my fav books. Certain authors I collect their books and still have to have that paperback/hardcover. I have around 200 books right now. Some books, especailly if a favorite author/book I have book a book copy and also on my nook.

  6. I do both with a preference for print. Great breakdown!

  7. I do both with a preference for print. Great breakdown!

  8. Paper for reading but recently, I'm loving plastic for publishing.

    Btw, I hate to be the one to have to tell the woman on your book jacket, but she looks plenty wicked enough to me.

  9. Paper all the way. It will never die out if I can help it.


  10. i adore paperbooks. But then I download ebooks to my Mac. Okay, I would be downloading to my iPad but my husband discovered it, and it's Gone to husband land. I suppose that means I don't really know what it's like to read on a dedicated reader.
    Fine. Now I can't make up my mind.

  11. Very interesting! Thanks for weighing in, everyone!