As recently as 6 months ago I was an e-only book buyer.
I treasure my beat-up old Kindle and have Kindle/Kobo/Zinio/etc. apps on every device I own. I revel in the ability to instantly pull up a great short like Chris F. Holm’s The Toll Collectors absolutely any time the desire takes me.
Digital books are great.
Over the past 6 months, however, I have bought more trade paperbacks and hardcovers than I had in the previous decade.
There are some bloody beautiful books out there.
I ordered my copy of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls from The Book Lounge in South Africa specifically so I could get the special edition cover by Joey HiFi. Shipping to Canada cost more than the book did and it was worth every penny.
A few days ago, I attended the launch for Lauren B. Davis’ The Empty Room and she introduced me to Brett and Sandra from ChiZine Publications. By happy coincidence, I had recently read and reviewed one of their books and had already selected a number of other books from their catalogue (conveniently and tastefully included in the final pages of said book) that I wanted to buy. By the same happy coincidence, they were sitting with Michael Rowe, the author of Enter Night, which was one of the books that I wanted to buy. Really smart, passionate and authentic people.
During the ride home, I realized that,while suppressing my awkward fanboyishness, I hadn’t told them something that I had wanted to. Goldenland Past Dark was not only wonderful to read, but it is an amazingly beautiful book to hold and to look at. The cover art is gorgeous, the design is elegant and even the texture of the cover is seductive.
A quick look at the shelves in my 13 year-old son’s room tells me that I am not alone in my love of beautiful books (and that he has done well finding well-written horror amongst the crap that is slung at kids today). With the exception of a half-dozen Supernatural mass markets, everything is a handsome and proudly-displayed TPB or hardcover.
It’s pretty cool that he is proud of what he reads. I am proud of what I read and I love being able to lend people something that I have read that they would not be normally exposed to. I can do that with some of my eBooks, but there is something about putting a beautiful book directly into the someone else’s hands. It’s like you are giving them a gift.
And, still, I love my digital books.
Last week, Exhibit A Books tweeted that they are looking to include a digital copy with each physical book they sell. My thoughts on the matter are pretty clear.
When I went to place my order from ChiZine, I noticed these magical words:
“Order this Trade Paperback from CZP for 30% off the cover price and get the eBook FREE”
Totally. Fucking. Awesome.
This is exactly what I want — interesting subject matter, great writing, beautiful books AND digital copies. While free is good for both beer and books, I don’t have a problem tacking a buck or two onto a physical book purchase to get a digital copy (but, again, free is good).
ChiZine and Exhibit A are doing it right.