Saturday, July 11, 2009

Authors Against e-Readers? Would You Buy Your Favorite Books Again?

So, here I am in Hawaii, spending the summer at my mother's place. As movie number six in the Harry Potter series gets closer and closer, my desire to read book six again has increased exponentially. However, I'm here in Hawaii, don't have a copy, and you can't download it to your Kindle because Rowling hasn't/won't release them to electronic format. Sigh. That is truly her prerogative, and she has every right to do with her craft as she chooses, but from my perspective...why, oh why won't you just let me download it so I have it wherever I go?!?

I already own the American version in hardback, because seriously, who could wait for them to come out in paperback? I was definitely part of that, reserve or wait-in-line-at-midnight crowd, so I definitely have them all already. Then, as a belated 30th birthday present, I purchased the UK, adult version all in hardback. What a pleasure and joy to track them as they went from Glasgow, to London, to New York, and across the country to my doorstep (until DHL misdelivered them, which is another story altogether). I felt as though my special books had taken the Hogwarts Express, and were every bit as special as the magic the books held. (For more information on the British version, you can visit

So here's my quandary. I already own two sets of the novel. I just can't carry those huge books when I travel, and I refuse to let my UK versions out of the house, so I'm stuck when I go on vacation! It doesn't seem that I'm one of those people who is losing the book-holding experience with these novels, especially since I own two copies of them, and would gladly purchase them all a third time for my Kindle. Am I wrong in thinking that real fans of the books would be willing to own more than one version/copy?

At the recent BEA conference back in May, many of you might have heard about the comment author, Sherman Alexie made about e-Readers being "elitist," and how he wanted to "hit" a woman on a plane that he saw using one. (Wait...remind me again how expensive hardback books are! So, are they elitist too?) This really gutted me! I love Sherman Alexie, and even studied his work for my MA. I get that Alexie, along with many other authors, which include Rowling, are against e-Readers for the manipulation of the market and possibility of piracy that they pose. Sometimes, however, I do feel like by holding out, I'd be a lot more tempted by the masked person in the back alley saying, "Psst...I have a free copy of that book you wanted to download!" No, I don't pirate materials, and I won't, but I sure would love the option of legally purchasing them for my Kindle. (Here is a great follow-up article to that response, where he clarifies those remarks over at Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits.)

My argument/question here is not whether e-Readers are good or bad (I obviously have one and love it), but rather about people's book buying habits. If you owned one, or if you already do, would you be willing to legally purchase your favorite books again, and why?!?

Well, since the library here doesn't have book six in, I'm off to see if I can buy a cheap copy at the local bookstore! I know. I should have planned ahead. Sigh.

Wait...they DO have third party sellers for the UK version! See: The Complete Harry Potter Collection Box Set: The Philosopher's Stone; The Chamber Of Secrets; The Prisoner of Azkaban; The Goblet of Fire; The Order of The Phoenix; The Half Blood Prince; The Deathly Hallows (The Complete Harry Potter Collection, 1-7)


  1. I don't have an e-reader and most likely will not be getting one in the near future (unless someone gives me one as a gift, which isn't very likely, but you never know), however, I can with confidence say that, yes, I would buy another copy of a beloved book. In fact, I have. My husband and I have several books on our shelves with duplicate copies. For us, it's more a case of having the hardback copy along with the paperback copy. If I did have an e-reader and really wanted to re-read an old favorite, I would have no problem paying money for the e-version.

  2. I have purchased the Kite Runner at least 2 or 3 times because I would loan it and not get it back. However, I purchased a few copies at thrift stores. That's just the way I do it. Actually, it's kind of weird now. When I am at a thrift store and I see popular or even just books I like, I buy them anyways because I like to donate them to DV shelters, to book clubs, literacy classes and so on. So, yeah, I buy them several times over. I am not E-reader (I just prefer the feel of a book in my hand) but I can definitely understand the quandary of wanting to download while you are traveling and not being able to.

  3. I would re-purchase a book if I really wanted to read it and I didn't have it on hand. You can always loan it to someone else or sell it online. And really, how many people own multiple copies of the HP books? A lot, I bet.

    Rowling is interesting in her attitude toward HP and when it can and can't be used and what for. She's stated publicly that she thinks it's great that other people are taking the world of HP and creating their own stuff with it (e.g. Wizard Rock & fan fic); but she also tried to stop the owner of from publishing a encyclopedia of HP b/c of copyright infringement. And now she's against making it available on e-readers--why? Has she decided she's already made enough money already?

    She definitely has a right not to release her work for digital publishing, but I think by doing so she's creating a situation where people will be more ready to pirate her work. There's a demand for it and someone is going to fill it--if not her, then someone else.

  4. I'm not sure if I would buy it again or not...I guess it would depend on how I felt at the time. I would love to have a Kindle but I never ever want to see "real" books go by the wayside!!

  5. I'm personally not of fan of e-books at this time because I prefer the physical book in my hands as well. However, I do own multiple copies of the same book . . . . Harry Potter, of course, and I would definitely buy more of different versions or anniversary editions. Another book that I have multiple copies of is Wicked . . . one of the original cover art that also happens to be autographed by the author, one with the musical cover art (that I think is just absolutely beautiful), and another copy for a class that I taught that has a bunch of notes written in it. I will never get rid of any of them! If I like a book enough, then it is not uncommon for me to have different versions of it . . . hardback, paperback, different covers, whatever . . . I just add it to my collection that will end up in my library!

  6. Literary Feline--I was really lucky. My Kindle was a Christmas gift last year. I love to hear that you're a collector!

    Jaime--I love that you buy books to give away. I only do that with my best friend or mother, but hadn't thought about buying my favorites to pass along! Great idea!

    Tasha--I don't actually know Rowling's full issue w/ e-readers. I've read articles, but I really wonder too!

    Staci--I don't want to say goodbye to real books either! If you saw my stack of books I bought recently at the library sale here, you'd see that I'm a hopeless buyer! Sigh. I know my mother bought me the Kindle to help alleviate the stacks, but I think she just added to my manic book cravings!

    Tif--I love that you keep all those books, and that you write in them! I like to write in my books as well, so when I notice someone eying a book I know I've annotated more than usual, I simply can't loan it!

  7. Funny thing is . . . I'm very particular about my books! If I write in one then I also need to have a clean copy of it! I know . . . it's a bit much!! :)