Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's "Real"?

by Donna K. Weaver

Okay, first thing--I really love this video of an animated bookshop. The very last statement at the end, though, gave me pause. I'd like you to watch it if you can afford the time and then come back and comment on my question later in this post.

"There's nothing quite like a real book."

For me, this begs the question: what counts as a real book?

Is it only the beloved paper tomes we were raised with? How about the audiobook that includes all the words but with some interpretation provided by the narrator(s)? What about ebooks or even the new enhanced ebooks?

Is one format more real than another?

On an aside, someone once told one my children who is not a fast reader (and yet is an avid reader via audiobooks) that listening to a book doesn't count as having read the book.

Really? Try explaining that to someone who's visually impaired.

My day job includes working with municipal records, and all the time I deal with my state's sunshine laws (what we call GRAMA for government records access and management act). In fact, I'm my city's records officer. As such, I receive requests from residents and attorneys all the time wanting information/records that the city collects.

One thing that's a bit of an issue now is text messaging. Frequently, when people are angry at a decision the city council has made, they want to know what the city councilmembers are talking about relating to it. As I worked with our archivist at the state, he reminded me that the format is not relevant.

It's the content that determines if something meets the state's definition of a "record".

So, as I prepare to be published--which will include ebooks and audiobooks--I suggest that regardless of the format, any of those will be just as real as it a paper book.

It will still be my story, my words, my hard work and sweat (figuratively) that went into its creation.

What about you? What does it take for a book to be real to you?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Any of the formats make a book real. You bring up a very valid point about those who are visually impaired. Reading the words is more active than listening, but one is in effect 'reading' the book nonetheless.

Luanne G. Smith said...

I love that video. I do read both formats, e-books and paper books. The stories are "real" for both, but I have to say I do continue to think of paper books as being more substantial. I guess because I can hold the book in my hands, pass it off to a friend, or stick it on a shelf. I think I'm kind of old fashioned that way.

P.S. Ack! You've got word verification on!

Ellie Garratt said...

For me, whilst any format is real, a physical book you can hold in your hands is true joy. But that does not make any other format inferior or less real - we live in the digital age.

Keith N Fisher said...

A book, is a book, is a book. I think the term "real" anything is Prejudicial. However, If we ever lose the bound paper book, we will have lost our humanity.

PS L.G.,word verification is on for a reason. Sorry it bothers you.

Everett Powers said...

The world of publishing, it is a changing. There are publishers now signing authors to electronic-only contracts. If you want to read their books, you'll have to read them on an eReader. I prefer reading on my iPad, unless I'm in bright light, like sitting by the pool. Books are books

farawayeyes said...

My current living situation made an e-reader essential. I think the term 'real book' as meaning only printed material is something dreamed up by the suffering bookstores. While I would hate to see them disappear audio and e-books are very valuable.

For me nothing will replace the smell, feel and delight in handling and even owning a printed book, but for today practicality wins.

Jennie Bennett said...

Real is words that tell a story. The phrasing is wrong, I do love a book I can hold in my hands, but one recorded or in eformat aren't any less real. Way to get us thinking Donna!

Stina said...

Good question. They're all real books. But some people will have certain preferences to one form over another. I'm not into audiobooks. My ADHD brain can't handle them. I need the printed word to keep my attention. I read ebooks, but I still prefer hardcopy. Though there's nothing more gratifying that downloading a book in a matter of seconds--or as dangerous. Just ask my TBR pile.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Great question! I say any format. I read to my kids a lot. Is the story "more" to me because I read it, versus how much it was to them that they listened to it? I think not.

Anonymous said...

The format doesn't matter to me.

I love the video.

C. LaRene Hall said...

My husband before his death was grateful for audio books. He couldn't see to read and it helped his days not seem so long. I'm grateful for the Blind Center who made his last few months of life a more fulfilling one for him.

Julie Daines said...

A real book to me is any book that draws me in and whisks me away. A real book is one that makes my heart pound for the fate of fictional characters. A real book lingers with me long after I've read the last words. A real book makes me want to be a better writer.