The Non-Print Chronicles

 

The rise in e-books has made me question again my refusal to review books in this format.

From what I have read in the online forums for mystery writers, many are turning to e-publishing, either because they cannot break into the traditional publishing world, or they have a book that doesn’t fit the mold of their usual work, or it’s work that’s gone out of print. Quite a few appear to have made this transition successfully.

In part my objections have been technological. Reading e-books requires a reader. There are several kinds available, and they are not compatible with each other. Therefore an e-book is created for a specific format. That sounds like a lot of trouble to me.

My other problem is that anybody can publish an e-book. Sounds egalitarian, doesn’t it? But nobody’s work should go directly from their computer to a published state. That is what editors are for, and we need them.

Ask any professional writer, and they will tell you how an editor saved them from making a fool out of themselves, or worse.

Some writers will hire editors to go over and clean up their manuscripts before pushing the “print” button (or, in cyberspace, the “publish” button). But some do not.

As a reader, I have no way of knowing whether the e-book in front of me had its grammar and spelling checked, much less whether someone pointed out that chapter 5 repeats too much of chapter 4 and that the description of the sheriff appears different each time he’s mentioned.

And when would I have time to start reading these stories? I already have far more print books than I can read, and not a week goes by that I don’t clear the stash a bit.

Eventually, the dust may settle, and there will be a clear technology and a vetting process for manuscripts. They’re not here yet.

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