Opinion: Kindle/Nook vs. “Real Books”

Originally posted on October 3rd, 2013

“E-readers are going to kill real books.” -Too Many people to Count

Look familiar? And the book on the Kindle is 1984.

Has everyone heard this argument by now? Most people that read probably have. Personally, I have several issues with this argument.

1. I have actually heard people use the words “real books.” So, what does that make the books that I have on my kindle? Fake books? I know what people mean when they use the word “real”, but I think that it’s the completely wrong word to use. I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month for going on five years now, and have gotten to know a few of the people on the forums there. Many of them have published books only on an e-reader format. Why? Why wouldn’t they want people to have an actual, physical copy of their book in hand?

Practicality. Publishing hardbound books is expensive. Especially for major sites like Amazon, etc. A single ISBN number costs about $125 dollars. Then there’s the $25 dollars for a barcode. For smaller, self-publishing sites that deal heavily in e-reader material, those two things are not strictly necessary. As fond as I am of my work, I’m not sure I want to pay $150 dollars for something I’m not sure will sell.

It can’t always just be about the sense of accomplishment.

There are also a lot of decisions that have to go into a physical book. Book size, font size, font type, paper type, binding type, and the list goes on. It’s an extremely involved process.

2. I can’t see “real books” ever actually going away. Yes, Borders went away, but Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million are still going strong. They’ve adapted, sure. The Nook is B&N’s toy, after all. But the B&N stores that I’ve seen recently don’t seem to be hurting. I went and spent close to fifty dollars when I went to one on vacation.

My point here is, too many people like to have physical copies of books for them to ever go away. Technology marches on, and thank God for that or we’d never have gotten Penicillin (not to mention, where would most of us be without our cell phones?). But that doesn’t mean that what came before is “obsolete.” I have a Kindle Fire and I absolutely love it. It makes carrying huge, college level textbooks around so much easier. However, I’m not getting rid of my hardback Harry Potter collection anytime soon, either. I’m the kind of odd person that has both a physical and a Kindle copy of some books.

I love having an actual book in my hands, but sometimes my Kindle is just easier to carry. I can put it in my purse and have 20-30 books on hand. I can’t put 20-30 books in my purse.

3. My personal favorite. What. Does. It. Matter? Kindle, Nook, iPad, hardbound book, hieroglyphics, cave drawings. What does it matter what someone uses to read, as long as they’re reading? I have a two and a half year old niece. I don’t care what gets used, as long as she’s reading/being read to. Isn’t that the real point? If I were to publish any of my writing, I wouldn’t care what format someone buys it in; I’d just be happy they were interested enough to read it.

Yeah, so this turned out a little longer than I really thought it would, but this rubs me the wrong way sometimes. Books, in any format, aren’t going anywhere.

Quit worrying about what you’re reading on, and just read.

Cheers,

Mayuuya (Chelsea)

Opinion: Writing Classes: Make It or Break It?

     Originally posted September 25th, 2013

I’ll say right off that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with any kind of writing class, whether it’s standard Composition I, or some kind of “creative writing” class. On one hand, hey, I get to spend an entire class writing. I’m down with that. On the other hand, however, so much of how much you enjoy a class, or how good the class is, depends on the teacher. Yes, I know that idea applies to pretty much any class (though I’ve yet to have a teacher that can make Probability and Statistics fun), but I think that it goes double for any kind of writing class.

I know good and well that not everybody is going to enjoy my writing style. I’m good with that; I don’t enjoy everyone’s style, either. But those people aren’t grading me. My GPA doesn’t hinge on their opinion of my writing style. I’m a very descriptive writer. My works aren’t full of gushing descriptions of a single piece of clothing, but my writing certainly isn’t “stark.”

Too flowery or too bland, too vague or too specific, too long-winded or too straight-forward: it’s all a matter of opinion. In my senior English class from high school, my teacher gave two separate grades: content and mechanics. I never made below a B+ on either. Most of the time it was never below an A. She liked how I write. My Comp. I teacher from college? Hated my writing style. I never made below a B-, but I knew the content I had written was better than that. But he entered the grades, so he made the decision.

Please don’t think I’m complaining about getting a B. I’m not. B’s are completely acceptable to me. I just know what I had written was better than that.

The same thing happened to my grandmother in college.My grandmother had a job writing for radio stations. She was an English major who never made better than a C in creative writing because the teacher thought her writing was too “flowery.” (I’ve read her writings; what the teacher thought was “flowery” was probably just snark.)

I’m also not sure how creative “Creative Writing” classes allow students to be. Unless the teacher doesn’t give students an outline of how the story is supposed to flow*, doesn’t tell a student that their poem has to be ABBA style instead of free verse (not a fan of free verse poetry, though I have written some), then I don’t really call that creative. Creative is coming up with an idea for writing on your own, not being handed something from a teacher/professor.

To be a creative writing teacher, I feel like a person should be unbiased towards a students writing style.  I know, that’s not a easy thing to do, but it’s necessary. Unless you’re teaching a specific class that strives to use a certain style, (I’m looking at you, Writing in Psychology) then, unless there really is a genuine problem with the student’s style, they shouldn’t be given a lower grade simply because the teacher doesn’t like how they write.

But, all in all, I guess that I’m still grateful that I had creative writing classes. I just don’t always agree with how they’re structured.

Cheers!

Mayuuya (Chelsea)

*I know that there are some elements that every story needs to have, but that’s not my point.