Factions in Technology that Made a Difference: e-Readers and Self-Publishing Companies

            Last Christmas, I received an e-reader and I found myself to be both excited and anxious. I say this because I was happy someone (I won’t say who) knew me well enough as a reader to get me such a gift. At the same time, I was not sure what I would read that I did not already have in hardcopy. And yet, for sometime I was annoyed that some electronic books were cheaper than their other formats. Suddenly, I wanted to see what was available for me to read on my new e-reader.

            After purchasing some classics, some bestsellers, and some short stories (I really, really wanted to read Rick Riordan’s crossover tales), I went searching for novels available under $5 on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and I was amazed at the selection. Of course, I already knew about “Smashwords” and “Draft2Digital,” but I never realized how many texts those sites made available for anyone who was interested in reading them. As many of you know, I enjoy reading fantasy, but some of what I started reading on my e-reader I probably would never have looked at once inside a bookstore. These writers were emerging as authors thanks to those self-publishing companies. A lot of their novels, which I bought and read, were creative and engaging with well-developed characters. Also, I was enjoying these stories to the point where I was staying up late reading chapter after chapter wanting to know what happens next.

            After I had read the fourth book in a series—within 3 days—I began to wonder if, whether or not, any of these authors would have had the chance to publish at all if it were not for the self-publishing companies. I am not saying that it is because of e-readers that such writers have had the chance to publish their works. Actually, e-readers have made reading more compatible and more accessible. It is due to these self-publishing companies online that we are able to read such stories. And, thanks to Amazon, iBooks, and BarnesandNoble.com, the ratings and the comments let others who are interested in the novels to be aware of whether or not each book was worth our time and our money. Seriously, what are the other publishing companies looking to publish? However, thinking back, none of the larger companies originally wanted to publish J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. A smaller company decided to take a chance on the series (in the U.K.). Yes, there have been a few online authors—most notably Amanda Hocking—who eventually earned a publishing contract due to the success of their stories, but those are the large publishing companies who move to make these offers. Are any of the ‘independent’ publishers interested at all? These e-book writers should be admired for their determination and their productions (no, I am NOT an independent author, yet).

            I have always tried to read books from every genre of fiction, but now I am definitely paying more attention to what I read because my e-reader can only hold so many books. The authors I have been reading are some emerging fantasy and paranormal authors: Heather Killough-Walden, Lisa Kumar, B.C. Burgess, and James Maxwell (he is one of the rumored who is to receive a publisher’s contract). Some of the bestsellers I purchased at a reduced price include: Room, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Plain Truth, Still Missing, and Looking for Alaska. Then there are the recommended books such as: Ready Player One, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, A Lesson Before Dying, and Kindred. I believe I am reading more across genres now than I was before I received my e-reader. However, I still have no interest in reading 50 Shades of Grey so do NOT ask me about it.

            Does this mean I am suggesting that everyone buy e-readers and/or we should pay more attention to what ‘everyday writers’ put out? —No, to the former, and yes, to the latter. When Winds of Winter and The Blood of Olympus are released, I plan on purchasing the hardcopy formats. Sometimes there is nothing like reading a (hardcopy formatted) book on your couch. Books cannot and should not fade out the way most newspapers and magazines have because of e-readers and the Internet. The emergence of popular print books by popular authors proves that as long as the books are good and contain what people want to read, there is no fear of either e-readers or independent authors. It is definitely more convenient to carry an e-reader, especially when one is traveling. Sometimes, it is better to travel lighter, but exceptions can always be made.

            Who, or what, do you read on your e-reader?

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