It was inevitable, human nature being what it is. The so-called e-book revolution is already bringing out the worst in some writers, dividing them into two equally unpleasant categories: print book snobs and e-bullies.
Not all writers are taking defensive/offensive stances, but plenty are pouring their emotions into angry, insulting internet postings.
The print book snobs are unmovable in their convictions:
Only a stack of paper bound between covers can be called a Book.
E-books are merely an additional source of income from works that have first been properly vetted and produced by A Real Publisher.
People who go straight to digital are doing so because their work is amateurish and unreadable and no Real Publisher will touch it.
On the other side, the e-bullies respond in equally nasty terms:
Writers published in print are fools clinging to a dying format.
Any writer who gives a slice of profits to a publisher and an agent is an idiot.
A writer who hands over production and sale of her/his work to a publishing company is lazy, stupid, or both.
Any writer who really tries can make a lot more money from e-books than print books.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m sick of this argument already.
E-books are transforming the way we view publishing, no doubt about it. I respect anyone who can make money from e-books without first becoming a bestseller in traditional book form. (Right now, the print and e-book bestseller lists are virtual mirrors of one another.) To me, a book in e-format is as much a book as one in print form. A “book” is the words, not the platform on which those words are brought to readers. I hope every novel I ever publish will be available to readers as an e-book. I believe e-books will help many midlist authors find an audience and keep them from giving up on their writing.
On the other hand, I am passionate about printed books. Love the smell of them, the feel of them, the beauty of them. I have shelf after shelf filled with books I may never open again after the initial reading. I keep them because they’re beautiful, and because they represent gateways into other worlds. I love libraries for the same reason, and one of the most thrilling moments of my life was seeing my first novel in a library.
I understand why people become defensive and downright nasty when their choices are challenged. I don’t understand why anyone assumes the right to challenge another person’s choices.
All writers are struggling to understand the changes sweeping through the publishing world. Why can’t we respect each other, support each other, and walk into the future hand in hand?