Marsha Canham's Blog

May 26, 2011

Books vs Ebooks

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 1:43 pm

As someone who ran out of things to read when she was a kid and went to the library and started at A, I figure I’ll throw my two cents into the discussion arena. 

I love books.  Love the feel, the smell, the weight , the comfort of them.  There is nothing quite like curling up on a warm couch on a cold day, a fire crackling, the lighting just right as you open up a book and enter the world of someone’s imagination.  Frankly, I don’t understand people who don’t read.  They’re missing adventures in strange lands, on strange planets;  mysteries with world famous sleuths and detectives;  historic events seen through the eyes of characters who pull the reader into the pages and let them see what it was like to live in ancient Egypt or the Scottish Highlands or the jungles of Nombre de Dios. 

I had thousands of books at one point and kept having shelves built to fit them. I’d clean them out every now and then and pass them along to a local old age home, but I kept buying more to fill the gaps I’d made lol.  When we moved from Ajax 11 years ago the Stupid Ex Husband put his foot down and said I had to get rid of most of them, so it was agonizing to go through and sort out what to keep, what to give away.  I had my hardcover collection, which was going with me for sure, and signed copies I’d collected over the years of going to conferences.  I had my favorites which I’d bought several times because I kept loaning them out and never getting them back.  That started to piss me off, so I stopped loaning altogether.  I still haven’t replaced my last copy of Mila 18. *mutter*

When the Apocalypse happened (not so veiled reference to The Day I Threw The Stupid Cheating F**kwad Ass I Was Married To For Thirty Five Years Out of My House) I occupied myself by 1) throwing his crap out and 2) going through the house room by room to do a vicious spring cleaning (I even did the GARAGE, folks, a cluttered, anally retarded hoarder’s domain I rarely entered except to park my car and dash out) and 3) clearing out my office.

I confess I like a certain amount of clutter.  It’s comforting to know I can walk by a sock one of the grandkids has flung onto a lampshade and not HAVE to pluck it off until it really gets irritating a few days later.  Its comforting to know where everything is on my desk even though it might be buried under piles of paper.  My desk is 12 feet long and at any given time, there might be 12 square inches of dark oak visible.

But I digress.  I was cleaning.  And whilst cleaning, I stood once again before the floor to ceiling, wall to wall bookcases and thought:  I should maybe get rid of some of these.  So once again, out came the boxes and bins.  Bins for the keepers that could be stored in the basement now that all of Stupid’s record collection and Coca Cola collection and train collections were all gone.  I had SPACE! But I also had to be prudent in case I turned into one of those hoarders on the TV show.

So, out went the books again with zealous efficiency.  I kept my hardcovers because, well, you just don’t pay $35 for a book then give it away.  And in truth I only buy two authors religiously in hardcover these days…Wilbur Smith and Michael Connelly.  I used to buy Cussler and Ludlum, but really, how many times can you save the world from brilliant, cunning billionaire megalomaniacs? It gets exhausting, it truly does.

The big Purge was two years ago this June (the anniversary of the Apocalypse was yesterday, should anyone want to send Godiva chocolates or Edible Arrangements LOL) (Just kidding) (No I’m not *snort*) and since then my book buying has gone drastically downward.  I’ve read the Follett cathedral books…terrific…discovered a few good crime writers and mystery writers but I must say, reading or writing romance hasn’t been too high on my list.  But…getting back to the original two cent vent over books or ebooks…I’ve been watching the wave of e-readers sweep away all the pre-conceived notions of ebooks and indie publishing with as much fascination as the rest of the writing world.  I’ve put up my backlist and watched books that have been collecting dust in obscurity find new life and, having been given an ereader by my family, I’ve taken the plunge myself.  My first official purchase was the new Michael Connelly book, The Fifth Witness, and yes, I felt a clutch in my gut as I downloaded it, knowing the hardcover would not be joining the others on the bookcase…but ya know what?  I got over it.  I got over it as soon as I downloaded books two, five, and eight and realized I didn’t have to pack up any more boxes to make room for them.  I even bought and downloaded my own damned books so that when/if I get the rights back, I don’t have to go through my files page by page to compare the original mss to the edited and published copy.  Fifteen hundred books.  It holds fifteen hundred books that I can carry in the palm of my hand, tuck in my purse, read by the pool or *gasp* with a flick of the switch change to night reading and read in bed or in the car without the need for daylight or lamplight.  It’s a wondrous little gadget, and while the leather cover feels almost book-like in my hands, I know it’s not a book, and I know I’m not turning paper pages, but I can still curl up on a warm couch on a cold day, a fire crackling, and enter the world of someone’s imagination.



  1. Marsha, this is a totally great post! One thing that really bothers me is how quickly books deteriorate these days. I’m talking about the bestsellers du jour with pages that turn yellow & brittle almost at the speed of sound. It’s not like at $25 they’re all that cheap, either. Doesn’t happen to an e-book. But then the %&^$ battery runs down! Oh, well, as Billy Wilder once sort of said, nothing’s perfect.

    PS: Stupid had a train collection? How old was he? 8? lol

    Comment by Ruth Harris — May 26, 2011 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

    • The train collection wasn’t as stupid as the bottle collection. Cans, bottles, anything with Coke on it…crates and crates of them and, after most of them exploded one day at the other house, all empty so even stupider. *snort* Thankfully he shifted all that out last summer and I was amazed how empty the storage rooms in the basement suddenly became LOL

      Comment by marshacanham — May 26, 2011 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  2. I made the change a year ago and I love it. I still have my thousands of book on the shelves, boxes, plastic containers but I love my ereader. As you say I can carry it wherever I go and my library goes with me and since I have it I read even more.

    Comment by Susana — May 26, 2011 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  3. I feel alongside of you. I have moved several times and it seems the only time I can really clean house. It also seems to be when I have to give up my dear books. I grew up with a mom who was a proofreader at our local paper. Books are in my soul. I gave away my children’s books first. Then it was my first romance books. Then it was my hardcover educational books. Now I have a mania for everystore, fleamarket etc. to stop and buy all that I can findat any given moment. My husband is a dear as he drives me and waits for me. I wish always that I could have my books back.

    Comment by Margaret Sholders — May 26, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  4. Marsha,

    I too never thought I would be the e-reader type. But having a short story recently e-published, I realized I would need one to read my own work. 😉

    Personally, I hate clutter. I am just not a ‘stuff’ person. It holds no value to me unless I use it everyday. That is why the electronic reader is a godsend. And also for the fact that someone like me – who doesn’t go looking for old books can find your treasures online. Just recently finished The Wind and The Sea. I have already forwarded the name to two friends who I know will love it. And have signed up for your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Kary Rader — May 26, 2011 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  5. I ordered a few hard covers recently … BUT, I got them on sale at the Mystery Guild, and since these were Big Name Authors, new releases, etc., the price was almost the same for e vs. print. When we moved, a slew of books didn’t come with us, and we did have to build and buy bookshelves, but I have room for a few more print books. But I’ve been reading e since I got my first eBookwise, and now have the NOOKcolor. I LOVE reading e. And something nobody mentions often — print books are physically demanding if you have weak wrists, especially when they print into the gutter. I mean, it’s often HARD just to hold the book open. I love my one-handed reading on my e-reader. Leaves that other hand free for the libation of choice.

    Terry’s Place

    Comment by Terry Odell — May 26, 2011 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  6. Great post, Marsha. Didn’t know you, too, were a Michael Connolly fan. He’s been one of my favs since THE LAST COYOTE. As to the problems with book collections vs space, couldn’t agree more. Right now I’m facing another painful recycle of excess to my local nursing homes, etc. Ereaders really are the most efficient way to go…and another thing us old broads should consider is that you can enlarge the type so your eyes don’t give out before 9 p.m.

    Comment by Shirl Henke — May 26, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

    • Speak for yourself, Dino. My eyes don’t give out till at least 9:15 hah.

      Comment by marshacanham — May 26, 2011 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  7. I like your comments about clutter. My work desks looks cluttered but I know where everything is (sort of).

    Comment by Juliet — May 26, 2011 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  8. Excellent post, Marsha. I figure as long as I can kick it out of the way, it ain’t clutter.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — May 26, 2011 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  9. I don’t want to count the number of book shelves I have that are over-flowing. And I rarely part with a book and I don’t loan my favs, because, I, too, often didn’t get them back. God help me if I ever have to move. So having an e-reader is great. It’s easy to handle (I have arthritis), it’s helping me keep more ‘stuff’ out of my house and I carry the thing in my purse wherever I go. Waited almost 2 hours for my car last week to have tune-up and get the snow tire off…I finally dared to do that! And was happily reading in the waiting room. I love the e-readers. We have a Kobo and a Kindle now.

    Godiva Chocolates! Pfffttt!

    Comment by Jill Metcalf — May 27, 2011 @ 1:37 am | Reply

  10. I second the e-reader revelations. Don’t know if it’s the increased font size or just the portability, but I have read 25 books since Christmas (when I received my Kindle from my husband/Santa)- the last 5 being Marsha Canham books….whereas before I would have been lucky to have 2 in the same time period. I love how I can finish one book, and in 2 second download another. My only problem is remembering to get off the couch to do some exercising…..

    I love Wilbur Smith, too, but I haven’t read his sailing series- just the Egyptian ones- quite a while ago- but they were incredible!

    Comment by Anne J — June 5, 2011 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

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