And yes, there really is something to be thankful for! I have no wish to open here the endless debate about which is better–the print book or the ebook. Some readers, I know, can get quite heated over the argument, as though there is only one right answer and those who disagree are just plain wrong! I merely rejoice in the fact that we have the choice. We can read either or both. However, I do want to draw attention to what I think is the single most amazingly wonderful contribution the ebook has made to my reading, and, I assume, to many other people’s too.
People of a certain age, like me (I won’t go into definitions here!), remember a time when there were only print books, and the only place to buy them was the bookstore. These people may remember too what it was like to discover a series in progress only to find that the earlier books in the series were not in the bookstores and, in many cases, could not even be ordered because they were out of print. I can remember discovering wonderful authors of an earlier time but finding it virtually impossible to get my hands on most of their out-of-print books. Patricia Wentworth (a contemporary of Agatha Christie with books similar to hers) would be an example. I can remember also old books of my mother’s and aunts’ that I lapped up as a girl but could never find again as an adult because they were long consigned to dust. I can remember a time, as an author, when my books were on bookshelves for a few weeks after they were published before being pulled and destroyed (after their covers were torn off) because stores could simply not find room for all the old books when new ones were constantly arriving. It did not take long for those books to go out of print, the assumption being that they would never be in print again. The window of opportunity for selling those books and bringing them to the attention of readers was quite small.
Those days are gone, and I am one happy reader! We very quickly adjust to a new reality, however, and for young people it is a reality that has always been here. With the advent of the ebook it has been possible to keep alive (or resuscitate) the earlier books of a series or of a particular author and to bring back old favorites of an older generation for them to read again and newer readers to discover. I can recall my delight a while ago when I idly searched for the books of Florence Barclay without any real hope that I would find them. But there they were in ebook format, and they were even free! I lapped them up all over again. I have been able to find all the old Nero Wolfe books, most of the old Regency romances that were being written while I was writing mine in the 1980s and 1990s, all the Ed McBain books, to mention just a few, In fact, it has got to the point at which I get quite indignant if there is a book I can’t find, either in print or ebook form. I have come to see it almost as a right that I should be able to have access to any book I want to read at a moment’s notice. What a blessed world we live in.
And now those long-ago, out of print books of mine are coming back, most of them being published in ebook form by Class Ebook Editions. Many readers have been asking for them. Many have been paying ridiculously high prices for the rare second-hand copies that find their way onto the market (the author gets no royalties on them, by the way). Many readers have discovered my books with more recent series, like the Bedwyn series or the Huxtable series or the still-ongoing Survivors’ Club series and would like to go back to read my earlier works. There are a lot of them! Well, now they are starting to be available again. There were two Christmas anthologies in late 2015, and in February, 2016 there are four novels–Red Rose, A Certain Magic, An Unlikely Duchess, and Lady with a Black Umbrella. And there will be more on the way.
So–I am not saying ebooks are better than print books. Neither am I saying the reverse. I am merely pointing out why this lady of a certain age is over the moon with delight at the wide world of reading that ebooks have opened up–and all just the click of a button away. Oh, that one-click!
Do enjoy the new ebooks. In the meanwhile, though, just to show I am not discriminating against print, I will be giving away two print copies of the newly republished INDISCREET to two people who comment below, as well as two print Advance Reading copies (with a plain cover) of ONLY BELOVED, the final book of the Survivors’ Club series, due out in May. Make your comment by the evening of Monday, February 8.