THE MEDIUM AND THE MESSAGE?

Marshall McLuhan once famously wrote that the medium is the message. I must confess that I have not read his work so can’t speak with any authority on what exactly he meant. But I take his words to mean that the medium (book, film, marble, canvas, etc.) and the message (written story, visual story, sculpture, painting, etc) are one and the same thing. Perhaps he had a point!

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I used this poster on my Facebook page a few days ago, expecting a discussion on how central a hobby reading is to various people. I got that, but I also got a discussion of whether books are better than e-books. I get this a lot on my Facebook page. Many readers make a distinction between the two–and if there is one, well, it goes without saying that books are better. What are we actually saying, though, when we reason this way? That e-books are not books? But the paper book and the electronic book are just two different media to convey the same experience, aren’t they–the reading of a story? Aren’t the medium and the message different things after all?

We can certainly have our preference between the two. Some of us prefer paper books to the exclusion of all else. Some of us far prefer the electronic book. And some like the audio book best of all. I am not fond of audio books, mainly because I can’t concentrate on the sound of someone else’s voice in my head. It has to be my own voice. But I love both paper books and electronic ones. I love the look and feel of paper books as well as the smell and the ease of flicking from page to page to check names or details. I love the look of books on tables and in bookcases. I love bookstores and cover art. On the other hand, I love the convenience of my Kindle–its light weight, the facts that I can carry a whole library around with me anywhere in the world and that I can read it one-handed. I like to be able to vary the size of the print and not to have to worry about overflowing bookcases. I love being able to select a new book right on the device and being able to start reading it within minutes.

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What really surprises me is the passion with which some people conduct the debate as if there is a right or wrong answer to the question of which medium is better and as if everyone who reads via the other medium is just simply wrong. Yet each medium presents the same story for the enjoyment of the reader. Several months ago I even had a scolding on my Facebook page from someone who called me a hypocrite for doing my reading on Kindle when I expected other readers to buy my paper books. Huh? As the poster above says, does it really matter how we read, only that we do read? I am very thankful that I am still surrounded by many of my books in physical form, including those in the two large bookcases in my bedroom. I am equally thankful that my book purchases no longer have to depend upon rare trips to the city and the nearest bookstore 100 miles away. I had to ration my reading in those days.

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I will be interested to read your comments on this topic. And I must say a special thank you for all the thoughtful and fascinating comments you made on last week’s blog. The three winners of my Christmas book are Katherine Martell, Stacey Altavilla, and Anita H . Since that book, A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, is still not out in this new edition, I’ll offer it again this week to one person who leaves a comment below.

75 thoughts on “THE MEDIUM AND THE MESSAGE?

  1. I don’t think medium matters. I’m actually 60% audio book, 20% paper book, 20% kindle- and I enjoy all 3! I actually frequently have a book going in each medium. The audio books are great for when I’m driving or doing household chores like folding laundry and dusting. The paperback is for cuddling up on the coach with a cup or tea, and the kindle is for on the go! I always have at least 100 kindle books at my finger tips. I love them all!

    • I, too, often have three different media going at a time. I like the feel of a “real” book, but the Kindle is so convenient. Listening to recorded books has saved my sanity in traffic and on long trips more than once. I don’t see the dichotomy. You “read” however you can at the moment. Stories are stories, and you enjoy them as and how you can.

      • I do prefer books in print, for the feel and smell of them. If Im on the road a lot an audio book is nice to be able to hear the word, but I really believe I retain more by reading. The books on readers….well, my eyes get tired from the screen and again, I would rather sit back and hold the book. I don’t have the smaller Kindles or such, so I haven’t really tried that, but still I will vote for printed books. Batteries only last a time period and if electric goes out….still have candles to read the printed book.

      • As a journalist, I like to hold a book in my hands, and re-read when I want to do this. I have some I call Keepables. My favorite book of yours, a definite keepable, is “Lord Carew’s Bride.”

  2. I confess to enjoying a paper & ink book in my hands over an e-book any day. But, I also have a kindle and read just as much on it as an actual physical book. I just enjoy holding a book, smelling it, being able to stick a bookmark in it and know exactly how far along I am in reading. I am not a audio book person at all, I get distracted and don’t enjoy them. I also can read on my own much quicker than someone can read to me.

    • I love my Kindle for the fact that it is saving a tree as well as the fact that I can buy, download and instantly start reading a new book by a favorite author or a new one. I read your blog about all the different authors you like . I grew up on Georgette Heyer! One author you didn’t mention is Catherine Coulter. She is great whether writing her FBI series or historical. Also like Lynsay Sands a great deal. Jude Deveraux is a great one too. I first read her 2 books Twin of Ice and Twin of Fire and fell in love! That was back in 1983. Read everything she has written since. I love the same authors you do, kindred spirits at heart. I also agree about all the sex in books these days! I skip over all that myself. I rely on my hubby for that, ha ha. I believe you can fall deeply in love without sex. After all, it is only a physical thing and doesn’t always involve the heart. Keep up the great work you do and know that your fans appreciate every word you write!

  3. I like ‘real books’ better, though my hubby would debate that with the amount of room they take up! I do like the convienence of my Nook when heading to work so I don’t carry lots of things into an intensive care unit. I usually get the book first, and if it becomes a favorite, i get the ebook to carry with me always!

  4. I truly believe it is a matter of preference. I like the weight and feel of a physical book, yet it is much easier to read in bed with a sleeping spouse with a back lit e reader! My books that I will reread are physical books. Everything else is on the e reader.

  5. I don’t really mind what format my books are, whether paper or ebook. I think both have their own pros and cons. There are a few authors that I will always buy the paperback versions of, because they are my absolute favourite, but mostly, I do enjoy the convenience of how easy it is to buy ebooks, and how much cheaper they generally are than most paperbacks. I also use my local library a lot, however the Ebook system they use is unfortunately not compatible with Kindle, which is the E-reader that I have.
    But for the most part, i don’t care, as long as i’m reading! 🙂

  6. I have only had my kindle for a year, and I love it. It is so much easier to have a whole library with me, as when ever I have down time, I am usually reading.
    Which is better, I love having the physical book, but if you are a book keeper storage is an issue. I also have some favorite books that are so old that they are falling apart. I will not have to worry about that with my kindle.

  7. There is something about a book…especially a new one. As a child, we did not buy books, only borrow from the library. When I was 8 a man in a hurry to work, passed a group of cars illegally and hit me in a crosswalk. I was in the hospital for several weeks–first in a coma, and later recovering from head and spinal injuries. However, what I loved about that time was that so many people in our neighborhood had heard about the little girl who was hit by a car and thought I would like books. I got about 20 brand new books and it made being stuck in bed an OK thing. I read Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Ann of Green Gables, all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and more. I loved the smell and feel of those books.
    Would that be better than an e-reader? I certainly would not have had one as a kid, even if they existed–way beyond my parent’s means. I do confess that I read e books. The nice thing about e books is they are always there. I have a Kindle app on my phone, my laptop, my iPad. I am never far from a book. I can travel with many books and not worry about baggage space. Is one inherently better than the other? Maybe it is the memories that holding a book invokes. But once I begin to read, I do not think it matters. As long as I have something to read, I will be happy.

  8. I love “real” books. I love the feeling of them, how you can go back and forth and find something easily. looking at the cover every time you open it. I have come to love ebooks, too. You never need a book mark! It is great on vacation with all the books in one place. I used to bring books with me, then leave them for others to read (at least, I hoped so). It is so light and now you can read on the plane. If I don’t like something, or not in the mood for a certain genre, I can change the book easily. I think it is the best of both worlds. And, I am running out of space! I hate to sell or give away books. When we eventually downsize, I will have to get rid of quite a few books. With the ereader I won’t have to. Now Amazon is offering the e-edition with the sale of the book, so I can have my cake and eat it, too.

  9. I have to agree with you that what matters is reading. The rest is personal taste and what works best for each person. Personally, I am very fond of options! Though our local library is spectacular, like you, we have no bookstores within 100 miles which makes e-reading very helpful! I would no more want to tell someone how to read than what to read. But that’s my choice.

  10. I love my kindle. My other main way to “read” a book is with audio. I don’t read print books as often as I hate to ruin the books. I still buy them but usually I want the kindle or audio version as well so I can keep my books “perfect.”
    I love to go into libraries and book stores. The smell is amazing!

  11. I don’t have an eReader so I can’t do a complete comparison, but if I did get an eReader I would probably still read a lot of print books. I would use an eReader for favorite authors novellas that aren’t in print, to try new authors (especially when they are offered free – like earlier books in a series when sequels come out). I’ve heard that eBooks offer some cool option like being able to look up words, real people, historic events etc – that would be useful because I often do that anyway, just not as easily.

  12. I agrre there, medium might be the way to convey message.however, the experience one get is different. I love both ebook and paper books. Setting apart the convenience factor, i love the look, feel and smell of a paper book. Audio books, but, i am not much a fan of. It is the last option for me.

  13. I cannot stand reading E-books. Writing is an art, and a part of the art form is the book, with its artwork on the cover, paper choices, and typeface. E-books are a generic mess that give you something to read, but without the physical experience which comes with the read. I would compare the experience of E-books with looking at a famous painting on the internet. You can view it, and you can enjoy it, but you are certainly losing the true experience of the art. E-books threaten that part of the writing world which is an art. Plus, I cannot get Mary Blough to sign my E-book, LOL. I also hate the fact that when I buy an E-book, I do not truly own it. Part of the fun of books is sharing them and trading with others in the book groups. E-books make this next to impossible, making them a more expensive alternative. To repeat, E-books are a mess.

    • I understand there is a way to autograph e-books – don’t know how, but it was mentioned at an author’s forum I attended last March. However, I am pretty much in agreement with you!

  14. Hi Mary!

    Not only do I love reading but my husband, 2 sons and their wives as well as all my Grandchildren love to read as well!

    When they closed our local bookstore (A Waldenbooks) I bought a Kindle out of desperation but now that I have it I enjoy reading both books and using my Kindle. I have two bookcases (floor to ceiling) in my family room as well as one in the kitchen (for all the cookbooks) and one in the family room and bedroom as well. Of course since my husband loves to read as well there is even a shelf (in an appropriate place that can be easily reached!

    I must admit that I carry either a book or bring my Kindle just about everywhere I go. When I know there will be a long line at the store, be it grocery store, pharmacy, doctors office, etc. I usually grab a “real” book. Every time at least two or three people near me will ask what I’m reading and who the author is. If your sales have gone up I may even be the cause!

    The one thing I miss when I’m using my Kindle is I can’t fold over the corner of a page so I can read that “favorite” passage (or three)!

    The one problem with my Kindle that drives me crazy! My husband will have me download books for him and then start reading it and I don’t get it back until he’s finished (and one of the reason I won’t part with my “real” books!

    I love that I have books that belonged to my great-grandfather (which he may have gotten from his father) and would you believe it’s so old that it refers to Indians as aborigines? The old cookbooks I have have ingredients that you can’t even buy and I lot of directions saying things like “cook in a hot oven until done”

    I’m thrilled that all 5 of our grandchildren love to read as well and thank goodness for “book rate” at the post office! My oldest grandson who started 1st grade this year loves his Kindle and is reading 2 years ahead of his class level and my son and daughter-in-law love that he’s helping to teach his younger brother and sister to read as well.

    Hum, I wonder if loving to read is a trait that we pass on to our children because both my sons love to read as well and both are totally different

  15. Hi Mary!

    Not only do I love reading but my husband, 2 sons and their wives as well as all my Grandchildren love to read as well!

    When they closed our local bookstore (A Waldenbooks) I bought a Kindle out of desperation but now that I have it I enjoy reading both books and using my Kindle. I have two bookcases (floor to ceiling) in my family room as well as one in the kitchen (for all the cookbooks) and one in the family room and bedroom as well. Of course since my husband loves to read as well there is even a shelf (in an appropriate place that can be easily reached!

    I must admit that I carry either a book or bring my Kindle just about everywhere I go. When I know there will be a long line at the store, be it grocery store, pharmacy, doctors office, etc. I usually grab a “real” book. Every time at least two or three people near me will ask what I’m reading and who the author is. If your sales have gone up I may even be the cause!

    The one thing I miss when I’m using my Kindle is I can’t fold over the corner of a page so I can read that “favorite” passage (or three)!

    The one problem with my Kindle that drives me crazy! My husband will have me download books for him and then start reading it and I don’t get it back until he’s finished (and one of the reason I won’t part with my “real” books!

    I love that I have books that belonged to my great-grandfather (which he may have gotten from his father) and would you believe it’s so old that it refers to Indians as aborigines? The old cookbooks I have have ingredients that you can’t even buy and I lot of directions saying things like “cook in a hot oven until done”

    I’m thrilled that all 5 of our grandchildren love to read as well and thank goodness for “book rate” at the post office! My oldest grandson who started 1st grade this year loves his Kindle and is reading 2 years ahead of his class level and my son and daughter-in-law love that he’s helping to teach his younger brother and sister to read as well.

    Hum, I wonder if loving to read is a trait that we pass on to our children because both my sons love to read as well and both are totally different! One is a master stone and brick mason and the other is an executive for a large phone company!

    So I think it’s the reading that matters and not how you do it!

  16. I have no problem with how anyone reads so long as they read! AND so long as they acquire their reading material legally. Pirate sites which enable people to download e-books for free make me so angry I want to throttle someone! Stealing is stealing, whether it be a physical book or an e-book.

    My preference is physical books, rather than e-books. I do have a kindle and I do use it to download those books I want to read that are not available save in e-book form. I have bookcases in every room in my house and down the hall. My books are like family to me. I love the sight of them in my home. I love to walk into a room and spot one I haven’t read in a while and think “Oh! I know what I’m doing this afternoon!” My books are such an integral part of my life and home I would be lost without them!

  17. I used to think books were the only way to go, but an ereader goes with you everywhere. Perfect for when you are 1 chapter away from finishing your book and you still have a 2 hour wait at the doctors office.

  18. I love books, but I have a Kindle also. It does make traveling easier, but I miss
    the feel of the pages and glancing at the book cover from time to time, and just being able to go back a
    few pages and re-reading. It is mot as easy to find that one thing with a Kindle. I love
    books about Christmas and have many that I put out only at Christmas. Love your books.
    🙂

  19. I will always love to read a regular book. I like to go back and reread parts. But I also love to read my kindle. It’s so convenient to travel with. I have several books available but don’t have to worry about the extra weight of packing them!

  20. I was always the kind that had to have hard cold books in the hand to read. I had shelves of books that I enjoyed and on my TBR list.
    But I bought my kindle in January as a present to myself and I have been converted to e-books too. I still have my books but I love my Kindle! And I love the writers I have discovered since getting my Kindle.
    Thank you!

  21. As a librarian, I hear this debate a lot. I am an avid reader and used to buy my “keepers” that I would reread over and over again. In fact, I had 2 boxes filled with classic Nora Roberts, many of which were signed. However, I suffered a devestating loss when my closet got flooded and all of my Nora books were destroyed by black mold. While I still have many signed books that I keep on bookshelves (and away from water), I do love my Nook. It is convenient and if I finish one book, I can start on the next one right away. I have shelves and shelves of books by tried and true authors and new ones discovered. In fact, I find that I actually buy MORE books since I’ve gotten my Nook. There are still books that work much better in book format and I am okay with that. Since I’m a children’s librarian, I will agree that most picture books work better as books and it is best to introduce children to those books (See Lane Smith’s picture book, It’s a Book.) I still check out books from the library (as well as ebooks) and I will still buy regular books. In fact, whenever I go to Nora’s bookstore for a signing, I buy several books, so they can be signed. But I’ve been lucky enough to have all sorts of authors sign my various Nook covers, which is fun too.

    I always find this to be a matter of personal preference. No one is wrong and no one is right. The important thing is that you are reading and by reading, you are supporting as well as enjoying an authors work.

  22. “What really surprises me is the passion with which some people conduct the debate as if there is a right or wrong answer to the question of which medium is better and as if everyone who reads via the other medium is just simply wrong.”

    Sadly, Mary I see this more and more where some think there is only one way to read books, one religion, one political stance, even one way to vacation at Disney,( frequent reader of Disney vacation forums), etc.

    I love this quote: “I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.”

    There is no one right way to do anything and we should all be willing to accept even embrace our differences.

  23. I love your books. It was one of the first books that I read that I enjoyed very much and it was hard cover and it was Slightly Scandalous. Of course I had to have the full series which was wonderful. One of my favorite writes.

  24. I love all the options we have to read a good book, although I prefer reading rather than listening to an audio book. I love my Kindle and enjoy a ‘real” book too. I am a avid public library user, enjoying checking out a book or an ebook is a wonderful option if you don’t have unlimited funds to buy every book that takes your fancy. Our libraries will transfer a book from one location to another for just $.25….unbelievable.

  25. I love the thrill I get when I purchase a new book. I love the covers and holding them in my hand. My husband and kids gave me a Kindle last Christmas. I’m not really into electronics, so I was not as impressed with the Kindle as my husband wanted. I would say that now, though, I love my Kindle; I’m not sure that my husband loves the Kindle as much as I do anymore. It is too easy to acquire new books for me to read! My husband has made my book addiction worse. LOL!

  26. I love to read and I enjoy both prints books and reading on my Kindle and I would hate to have to choose one or the other. It is foolish to limit yourself when there are so many wonderful options to utilize. I definitely prefer hardcover books to paperback and enjoy going to my local library for “real” books and also use their services for ebooks. I also purchase books and ebooks through Amazon. Just a few hours ago I discovered if I purchased print book through Amazon, I have the option to buy same book in the kindle version at very reduced price. What a great way to have my cake and eat it too!

  27. Actually I am reading the same book now in both formats and I go back-and-forth depending upon the situation. I did that also with Reading The Arrangement. I love to be able to pick up my Kindle in the middle of the night when it’s dark and I don’t disturb my husband by turning on my light. But during the day I will sit in my chair reading the book itself. I enjoy reading both.

  28. I have shelves of keeper books, and I love the feel, smell and the ability to go back a few pages, re read etc… Then I got a Kindle – It was much cheaper back in the early days
    and “retired here”, that was important. But now the e-price point is getting almost the same as a paperback. I buy both… The ease of marking and waiting for new books
    to arrive in e-format keeps me from missing something. My guilty pleasure, when I read a “keeper” e-book, I sometimes go buy it in paper to read again… Heck, I would take it
    in STONE – I love to READ…..

  29. I’ll read whatever I can get my hands on….paper or ebook. I’m not too fussy. Love the convenience and size of the ebook, especially when I travel.

  30. I agree with most of what you said about books. When I am on Facebook and playing my games I keep an E-book or 10 loaded so that I read when I am not activily playing. When I am ready to relax my hands and just rest my brain, I pull up my handy dandy e-book. When I go to work, or I am in the store or a “resting” place in the house I have my paper books, whether they are paper backs or hard backs. ( Do you remember when that was a discussion point? Hard back vs. Paper back?) Then when I am crafting or again when I am playing my games, when I am driving back and forth to work or errands, I LOVE my audio books. I can easily become addicted to them. The story is MUCH slower than when I read myself. It take 10-20 hours depending on the book, or longer for audio books, when it is 2-4 hours for me to read, but this allows my hands to be free to quilt and still engage my mind. Often I find my hands working in tandem with the sound of the readers voice, faster for the exciting parts, slower for the romantic parts. So personally I love all forms of books. I have to read, just like I have to breathe, no books no breath. So I am most grateful to all authors over the centuries who have shared their genius and craft with those of us poor mortals who so appreciate this art form.

  31. I agree with Heather C. There is a time and place for each reading medium in my life. Although I enjoy my inner voice when I am reading, I slowly overcame that need to open up to audiobooks. The freedom they provide is incredible! Don’t get me wrong; I still prop myself up with a book or my kindle every chance I get! It is just those opportunities don’t come as often as I would like. I revel in the look and feel of a paper book, so I am loathe to put it in my purse for fear of damage, so my kindle is my on the go choice. I love having options!

  32. I have been reading voraciously (over 120 books so far this year) since acquiring my iPad. As much as I love paper, the ability to adjust light conditions and font size has helped the speed at which I read tremendously. I don’t mind waiting at the doctor’s office or at the train station anymore! I also love being able to search within the book when I get mixed up as to who is who. The other neat thing about ebooks is the ability to borrow and return library books within leaving your sofa!
    I love your writing Mary 🙂 I am enjoying the Proposal this week and it’s splendid!

  33. I love books, I keep most of what I read, and love to just look at them sometimes, I guess you could say I am obsessive, no-one bothers my books. Ha. I don’t have a kindle, but I am not sure that would be the same. Any way I can get to read them, I love all your books. Thank you for your talent.

  34. I think that in this day and age their are a lot of electronic books being purchased, and I love my kindle, especially for traveling, but I will admit there are still tons of paperback books on my tbr shelves. I share my books a lot with family and friends who do not have an e-reader, so I still get books in paperback. But I do admit that the feel of holding a book in my hand is still a thrill.. I think going through the books on my shelves and looking at the cover still holds the key for a me. I have never listened to an audio book, so I can’t comment on this part of the question, But I am sure that day will come in the near future..

  35. I’m with you, READ! Does it matter the format? I like to be able to turn pages and reread or look for a certain detail. But at the same time, accessibility has something to be said for it. Borders closing down limited my book buying ability since it was the main place I went for books. I want to support local booksellers and the big guys and the resold books because they each have unique books that only they access. If it is a book that isn’t not that important to me, or that I want to read as soon as possible and or cannot find in the paperback format, then I will get it on e-book. However, a part of me rejects the insubstantial characteristic of anything in electronic form, after all, any exposure to water or a foolish mistake of software can immediately destroy it. Yes books can be harmed by water but often can be restored. It is interesting to consider. Like most things, unless it is hurting someone, there is no right or wrong to it.

  36. Like most of your readers, I prefer “real books” to my Kindle (and probably always will). But I’m learning to appreciate it more and more.

    There are some books that are hard to get in any other form. When I retired and started reading again I was looking for books by Joan Smith one of my favorite authors from back in the day. My public library had only two books by her. I ordered several used books on line, but I noticed all of her books were available in ereader form. That sealed the deal! I have also downloaded many free books to check out new authors. And I really like the dictionary function on my Kindle. It’s so nice to by able to just tap on a word I don’t understand and have the definition pop up.

    But for the books that I love most, I have to have the real thing. I recently misplaced my copy of your book A PRECIOUS JEWEL … one of my favorites. After searching for it a couple of months, I decided to order another copy. Because the Kindle edition was a little cheaper, I ordered it ….but it’s just not the same. I’m going to continue to look for my original copy another week or so, but if it doesn’t show up, Santa is going to have to bring me another copy (smile).

  37. I totally agree with your reasons in support of both paper books and e-books, Mary. Over the 2 1/2 years that I’ve owned my Kindle, I’ve found that non-fiction that I will want to refer to and flip through is often best in paper form as are coffee table books. On the other hand, the convenience and space-saving qualities of the Kindle have made it my go-to choice for most fiction.

    A good friend recently loaned me a copy of Follett’s Fall of Giants – after two chapters, I downloaded the Kindle version! That was just too much book to juggle with a cup of tea and a lap full of cats!

  38. I think a variety of opinions about e-books vs paper books is no different than any of the many other debates of all kinds on books in general. The passion may be a tad higher because of how much book lovers care about books overall but that’s pretty much it. People don’t even agree on which is their favorite Mary Balogh book, nevermind which form it is in, so I’m not at all surprised to see debates on which form books should take in general.

  39. I can see the advantage to a Kindle but I personally don,t like mine, I find it frustrating that I can,t move it as fast as I turn pages and difficult to go back and check on something I read, particularly in a mystery. I know it would help with finding homes for the 3000 plus books I own, I become very sad when I realize that those friends of my will probably be homeless when I die, my children don,t want them,(they all of have E-readers), the library sells donated books for 10cents apiece, my books are worth more than THAT!, the nursing homes don,t have much room for them and the funeral home probably won,t cremate or bury them with me. To answer your question agree just another way to communicate but I still miss the card catalogs in the library!
    Jan

  40. I agree with your thought on paper books and e-books. I love having my hands on a book and being about to quickly flip through the pages to re-read something or remind myself of something. Even the ease of checking back quickly in an earlier book about a character or event that happened in an earlier book. But, I too have miles to travel to the nearest book store, and it is pretty sweet to be able to purchase a book right now to be read on my Nook. I wasn’t going to like my e-reader, but I do. I like both.

  41. I love my kindle for all the reasons you mentioned, plus the practical reason that the kindle lights up and I can read in bed without bothering my husband. (I used to have a nightstand full of various reading lights, none of which were very convenient. I had high hopes for one fashioned like a miner’s lamp, but it kept popping off my head.) I still love the look, feel and smell of paper books, but I was dusting book shelves yesterday and that definitely puts me in a pro ebook mood! I don’t really enjoy audio books, because the reader’s voice seems intrusive. But they are all books, of course, and it is wonderful to have options!

  42. These days I do my reading on my Nook. Like you, I like the convenience and the space saving aspect. I still have loads of paperbacks and hardcovers. I will say there is nothing like holding a book in your hands. I do not care for Audio books but understand the appeal. I believe the story is the point no matter the medium.

  43. I read books in any shape or form. I always have a paperback in my bag to read on a bus ride, while waiting in lines in the Post office, banks… At home I prefer to read e-books on my computer and have a net-book if I read in bed or on vacations (thousands of books to choose from!). I have no preferences and this sounds to me like a discussion on which book genre is better or intellectually more acceptable. I read everything that I lay my hands on and I buy books that I will read again and again: I do not have space in my home library for the books I know I will never read again, but I admit that One-click e-book shopping is sometimes so tempting!

  44. I have tried audio books but it doesn’t work for me, I keep getting distracted by my own thoughts or by what ever else I am trying to do simultaneously. The audio book was a very touching and heartbreaking story by one of or most famous Swedish authors – Kerstin Ekman´s “The Dog” (or “Hunden” in the Swedish version). It is an intensely touching story about a young puppy that becomes lost in the wild, left to struggle for survival. Yet every time I listen, I did get distracted.

    I don’t use e-books at all, because I almost daily work long hours with computers. Reading traditional books is a welcome chance to rest my eyes from the stress of reading from a computer screen.

    The essential is the reading, the experience and the joy of reading a really good story (with clever twists and turns in the intrigue and characters of depth and integrity) created by a brilliant and imaginative author. It is as essential for the brain as air and water and food is for the body, that I would say that it really is like air and water and food for the brain.

    Pleas excuse my bad English.

  45. I, now that I have had a kindle for over a year, am a firm reader in both book and e-reader form. In my mind there is no debate about which one is “better.” As long as I can read, I will read whichever one is available to me. I agree that there shouldn’t be a debate over which is better. Now, if you’re talking about which medium will last longer, that’s an area I think a debate could be had over.

  46. Umm….HUH?!? Really? A scolding? You don’t expect us to even buy/read your books. We do that because they are wonderful, not because you expect anything! <3

    As for you using your kindle, I'd be more likely to debate between kindle/nook/app rather than physical vs e-book! Brand preference is no different though. It totally comes down to what one is A-most accessible at the time, and B-sales 😉

    I have two hard cover books, six paperback, and one Nook (with a lot of e-books) on my bedside right now! The only format I haven't tried is audio and that is only because I have trouble focusing on the spoken word vs the written word. I miss too much from spoken format by getting distracted or dazing off to a soothing voice. I wish I didn't though! I could get through SO MANY MORE BOOKS if I were any good with audio formats for things!!

    Lovely debate topic for a non-debate. 🙂

    • BTW–ebook perk: bedtime reading I can prop my book on its side and lay there simply swiping pages across (screen lock so it doesn’t turn upright on me) and no more books to hold! If I’m sitting up this isn’t an issue of course but losing a page is much more difficult in ebook for me with my kids around. <3 I do so love those perks…but I'd miss pages if I didn't have physical books!

  47. I prefer a paper book in hand for the feel and the familiarity of it. I buy all my historicals in paper, but am quick to download contemporaries on my phone.

    I’m very visual and holding the actual book in my hand as I’m connecting and “seeing” this world the author has created holds my attention better.

    But ebooks are part of the evolution of reading just like computers and tablets are the evolution ofwriting with pen and paper, or even carbon paper before the copier.

    But I learn things about the world, the author, and myself when I read. I hope I never have to stop.

  48. I like and purchase both e-books and paperbacks. Often price is a consideration on which format I buy but either way it is a book. I love the convenience of having many books at my fingertips on my kindle but love to purchase favorite authors in mass market paperbacks to read then display on my shelves. I also buy in this format when the cover art is beautiful and I want a mare tangible representation. I do completely agree with the poster. There is no right or wrong answer, just a personal preference.

  49. I like ebooks and paper books. I’m not fond of audio books because I’m doing other stuff and I tune out the sound, it’s just background noise. When I’m holding a book in whatever form it keeps me grounded in the story I’m reading. I can immerse myself. It involves more senses. I can imagine myself as a bystander watching and hearing what is going on(as I do the voices in my head). I can imagine the smells, tastes and textures. To each their own. I don’t think there is a right or wrong, just a great story!

  50. I find that reading a paper book or an ebook on my Kindle is essentially the same experience as far as the actual reading. It is easier to page back in a paper book to find something I missed. It is easier to read a book on my Kindle since it is smaller and lighter then most books.

    If I have to buy a book, such as when I can’t get it from the library, I prefer to buy an ebook. I own hundreds and hundreds of books and I don’t have shelf space left for any more paper books, unless they are reference books or books I am collecting. (And my collection of Mary’s books is not on shelves but in two plastic tubs.) So I am glad to exercise the ebook option when I need to buy a book.

  51. I prefer the real books – paper books and usually hardback for many of the same reasons everyone has mentioned. I love the feel of them, the beauty, and the ease of looking back, because most books I read now require a look back at characters or plot, especially the time lapse books. I do have a nook, and use it to read novellas or to try a new author, but my preference remains for the book in my hand. While storage is a problem, I am trying to cut down on my purhase of paper books, by reserving those for authors I collect. However, since the book store is my favorite store, I am often tempted. Also, I am afraid so many stores will close down with the popularity of ebooks.

    My husband prefers ebooks. However, when he first received his nook several years ago, he found himself without something to read on two occasions. One was in a hospital in another city, sitting with a family member – no internet connection to buy new books. The other was on vacation in a small town in Maine – same problem. We actually had to visit a bookstore for him to purchase books for the rest of our vacation. Now, if we’re travelling he has to load up ahead of time – he is such a fast reader and sometimes underestimates his abilities – and he never rereads!

    Another interesting comment that caught my attention was the question about whether reading runs in families, even though children are so different. I come from a family of readers ( mother, father, brother, sister), and books were always important in our home. My husband’s father was an avid reader, his mother not. He picked up his father’s love of books, his brother did not. I am thankful he did, because reading is something we have always enjoyed together – from our early married days when we were poor (we belonged to the Doubleday book club to have a constant supply of cheap books) to now, we can sit quietly for hours and read. Both of our children love books as do their children. They know a book will always be among the Christmas presents. As a teacher, I am a firm believer that a child must be exposed to books from an early age to be more likely to enjoy reading. Of course there are always exceptions, but in this day and age, books compete with too many electronic games. I am constantly trying to turn on my 5th graders to the written word. Well, that was much too long, but I enjoyed the topic!

  52. i love all of them,i can carry all of them when travelling =D… i love old books specially those crinkled, pages in yellow-brown conditions =D when im in a bookstore i prefer those that are old,2ndhands? they appeal to me more but new books are welcome =D when im reading an old book i can feel all the feelings of all those who read them already and maybe that’s our secret to share…got ’em ol books =D gggrrr a-must-have- for me =D =D =D
    thanks for all your books.i love them,,all historical romance.

  53. I have a NOOK and I love it because I had to downsize into a small retirement apartment last year and I was only able to bring one (large, fortunately) bookcase with me. The books that I have in this bookcase are mostly Mary’s books that I had collected over the years. I do love reading paper books, too, and I make frequent trips to my local library for them. I love to read them at home, but I no longer drive, and I rely on a local transportation service to get me places. The NOOK is wonderful when I need to wait for my transportation or when there is waiting room time before or after an appointment. It’s small size and lighter weight are ideal for those situations..

  54. In my case the internet changed a lot. Before that you were not able to get foreign books at a reasonable price. Not to mention to know when a new book of your favourite author was published. As you said it is nice to have all your books at the tip of your finger. But on the other hand I do not trust modern devices, there are too many unsolved questions – what if you delete a book accidentally e.g. And there is a lot to say about a well filled book case.
    Btw with ebooks I would never have discovered your books…
    Christine

  55. After losing all of my books (9 very overstuffed bookcases full) in a Hurricane 8 years ago, I began searching to replace those I truly couldn’t live without. Some are still illusive, but most I have regained in paperback, ebook and recorded discs. Each has its own favored place. I now cut grass or clean out the attic or garage while listening to a favorite story and I never leave the house without at least the Kindle or Nook to occupy my down time while waiting my turn for an appointment. The fear of finishing a book with nothing else to read is greatly reduced with the ebooks as there is always another on the memory drive. Once I find a great Author, I tend to collect all their stories in the same format so that I’m carrying those “25” books around with me on the ereaders and can revisit my faves at anytime.

  56. Dear Mary
    I love your books in Paper form and so does my Mum. As she is elderly she prefers large print but there is quite a large difference in the price as they are nearly always hard backed and there is not such a large selection of titles.
    I also read books by Deanna Raybourn as she does a series about a character called Lady Julia Grey. Her first books were published as paperbacks in the Uk and then she produced the next 2 ( Silent Night and Midsummer Night) as Kindle novella only. The really frustrating thing is that although I could get them in the US, Canada or Germany I can’t get them in the UK. So I will never know what happens next!!!!!! Does this happen with your books?
    PS I read some really good reviews on your book about the Lady with the Black Umbrella, so much so, that I had to order a copy 2nd hand from the US !!
    There are not many Authors I would do that for, so I am looking forward to reading it!
    kind regards

    Linda Thompson

  57. A book available in e-book form is not necessarily available in all countries, Linda. There have to be contracts and permits and all those other fun things that often come between a reader and what she wants to read. It is usually out of the hands of the writer. I would dearly love to think that anyone in the world is able to read any of my books at any time, but I know it’s not so!

  58. I am an very avid reader, I read all kinds of romances, I have wondered here lately if romance was going dead because you are right there are a lot of authors who’s whole ideal of romance is heavy sex scenes, with a plot between, I love your books And I own just about all of them!!! there are a few other authors out there that lead up to the love scenes and they make the story just as important or more important than the sex. I actually bought a book the other day that was more a porn than a romance. Your books have the sex scenes but the adventure that gets them to the sex scenes are really what make them really awesome. keep up the great work, and I will keep buying them. And no I am not agreeing with you to win the books!!!! I would love to get them but not to the point of putting my pride on the line by agreeing with you and lying about how I truly feel. I have read books to where the author alludes to but never reaches the sex scenes.

  59. As long as we are reading , the medium doesn’t matter. I like paperbacks best. I do have a Nook. I just prefer to read paperbacks. My husband and I have passed the love of reading onto our son.
    I enjoy reading your books.

  60. I am particularly fond of Nora Roberts’ Eve Dallas novels with their combination of romance, police procedure and science fiction. I have read most of the authors mentioned in this blog and also have one shelf in my paperback bookcase which is half Dick Francis and half Emma Lathen novels.
    At the moment though I seem fixated on Regency novels which I read on my Kindle!

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