Recently a publisher that I review books for, I'll call them Publisher X, announced that they would gradually begin making the switch from distributing ARC's for review to distrubuting eARC's. In fact, the title which I was interested in reviewing out of the provided options was only available in the new eARC format, so I politely declined. It saddens me that hard copies will soon be going the way of paper money, VCR's and cassette tapes. Now, please don't misunderstand me: this is in no way a rant against Publisher X, nor am I trying to anger anyone who prefers an eBook over a hard copy. I understand why publishers are making the switch to eBooks. They're much more cost-effective for the publisher or author distributing them; they cost less to create (no paper!), plus there are no associated shipping costs in getting the review copy out to the reviewer. Less cost on the publisher's end means more copies available; more reviewers will have the chance to review, and therefore promote, the book. They are more environmentally friendly, and for the avid reader or blogger, they are much easier to store. However, while I see the reasoning behind why a publisher would switch to the e-version of a review copy, there are several reasons why I probably won't be reading an eBook or an eARC anytime soon.
The first, and probably the most obvious reason for my resistance, is the fact that I don't have an eReader. Spending several hundred dollars on an eReader, even on one of the newer, more economical options, just isn't in the budget while we raise three small children. One way around this problem would, of course, be for me to download the copy directly to my computer, but our computer is one that is shared among all of the members of our family. My husband and 10-year-old son also need our computer for their various activites, so the chances of me being able to use it to read an entire book are slim. Add to that the fact that our computer is a desktop (read: not portable) and that I do most of my reading in the bath, outside, or in the car, and that makes reading on our computer impractical.
The second reason that I am reluctant to switch to eBooks is that we don't have high speed. Now, this isn't by choice; my husband misses his XBox Live, and I miss being able to blog with the aid of high speed. We live just outside of a small town in a fairly rural area, and despite the number of businesses operating in our vicinity, Bell Canada hasn't deemed our area worthy of high speed Internet (yet!). We could opt to pay for satellite Internet, but considering that "high speed" satellite Internet starts at about $150 a month, it is no more in our budget than an eReader. Now, for those of you who don't remember what it's like to use dial-up: I often write a blog post, start uploading the accompanying picture, go and do some housework, make a snack, and then come back to see if the picture has loaded yet. Sadly, I'm not even kidding. This slow speed of Internet makes it even more difficult to read an eBook- when would I have the time (and patience) to download the whole thing?
The final reason for my reluctance to switch to eBooks is probably the biggest obstacle for me personally; I just love hard copies. I love the weight and smell of a book, I love the heft of one in my hand. I love their portability (they can go anywhere!) and lack of loading time. I even love when a publisher, author, or promoter offers to send you a review copy and then you have to wait for it. I love the anticipation of its arrival, and then that moment when the UPS/Fed Ex/Purolator guy delivers it. In this day and age of instant gratification and fast everything, it's nice to occasionally have to wait for something.
So, publishers, please don't do away with hard copies completely! I will miss them so much. I know that I will eventually cave and buy myself an eReader, or at least a laptop with WiFi. I know that someday I'll either move to an area with high speed Internet, or it will come to me. I know that someday I will be outnumbered and will have no choice but to succumb to the deluge of eBooks, but the next time you see me? I'll still have a hard copy in my hands.