In this exclusive interview, Sarah Wendell, book blogger and author of the upcoming book, Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels, discusses the romance book reader community, the pleasures and pitfalls of ebooks, and library lending of ebooks.
From the interview:
So the romance community is extremely active and opinionated, but it’s also among the most generous I’ve ever seen.
The good of ebooks is that you are able to carry most of your library around without having the weight of your library in your bag. Angela James, the executive editor of Carina Press, once said, “If you think about it, you can carry 300 books on your device, or in some cases 2000, 3000 books. Imagine the luggage fees if you carried 2000 books with you on vacation. Just imagine the epic amount of overage fees you would pay alone.” She’s totally right about that. You have this incredible flexibility to read more. You have this ability to connect with readers and to connect with other places to buy your books.
The downside of ebooks are, in my opinion, the number of barriers that are placed between the reader and the book. There’s DRM, there’s international rights, and geographic rights restrictions attached to books and it’s just one more hurdle between the reader who just wants to read a book. I don’t wish to pirate it. I don’t wish to break it. I don’t wish to give it away to other people. I’m an author and fully cognizant of the fact that a book purchase means someone gets paid. I am not ignorant of that fact and I’m not a pirate, but I despise DRM, because it makes it impossible for someone to truly own and keep their library. Romance readers have a very personal connection to their books. Romances are about emotions and intimacy and connecting with other people and they inspire an emotional and intellectual reaction. Reading is obviously a very mentally active activity, so with a romance, when you have a book that really touches you and connects with you, one that you truly love, it is really something you really have to own.
The entire of idea of restricting library lending of digital books makes me sad in a way I can’t possibly describe. Libraries right now are needed more than ever. People do not have the luxury income, and when you are an avid reader with a limited book budget you supplement your book budget with books that you borrow. I don’t think I’ve ever met an avid romance reader, or a romance writer, who hasn’t said that the library was part of their introduction to books.
I think there’s a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about the role that librarians play in terms of getting people hooked, particularly on genres like romance. I think that the role of the librarian is greatly misunderstood. Keeping digital books out of libraries costs publishers money. Full stop. Because that is a reader who is going to want to own that book.
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