The other day it was announced that the Harry Potter series is now available as e-books. Having just read (among other books) The Hunger Games on my Kindle App for iPad and recently announcing a poetry chapbook in e-book format, I can’t say I don’t use the medium or dislike it. There are pro’s and con’s with the print and digital experiences, but there’s something about hearing Harry Potter as e-books that unnerves me a little.
This may be odd because a number of my childhood books that I read in print, I have no problems with carrying on my e-readers. Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden are great examples of such books that I read need buy essay many times over with well-worn spines and frayed covers. I want to say that perhaps my mindset is because Harry Potter came along when I was in high school and college, but I don’t think that’s the case.
I think it’s the iconic image of the books of Harry Potter that I grew to love over time – the lines out the door waiting for midnight, huge volumes carried out by young and old (and in-between) alike. There were the pre-ordered packages in the mail with guaranteed delivery on release day and even though they only housed one book, it was truly a mystery package, a present page-by-page unraveling once you opened that box. It was a book experience that you could see in so many ways for so many years…
…and that just does not translate with e-books.
I understand that so much of that book experience was because of a moment in time, but it makes me wonder if I’ll see something like that in the future as book stores close and e-readers just become more practical, accessible, and affordable. In the end, the most important thing is that people read and have access, but is the book release as a visually understood social phenomenon over? Or will we be lining up for the first 100 book download codes? Or will it just become like a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket giving you a limited edition print and access to meet the author? I’d be very okay with the reality of more authors being rock stars, but I’m not sure if that’s the direction things are going either.
In the end, I always like to think of every book as a possible golden ticket trying to find the right person and I don’t think format changes that adventure. But I can definitely see how it might change that adventure collectively.