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Guest Post: by Author John Vorhaus
Tuesday July 10, 2012 at 12:00 am |


Today I am happy to welcome author of Lucy in the Sky, John Vorhaus, to Sort of Beautiful.  I had such a good time reading Lucy in the Sky, and am honored to have the author here to guest post!  Enjoy!


by John Vorhaus

I’m reading a thousand-page history of World War II on my iPhone. It seems ridiculous to try to absorb so large a work on so small a screen, but it works for me. Works better, anyway, than carrying around a book the size of a cinderblock.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who’s reading a thousand-page work of Japanese fiction. He tried to read it on his Kindle and failed completely. After fifty pages or so, he gave up on the ebook, bought the print book, and reports having a “very satisfying read.”

These two different experience got me thinking about the question, “What need does this meet?” in regards to what we read and how we choose to read it in this modern world, where print is not the only option. My goal in reading about World War II was “to acquire information.” I know the story of World War II very well already, and gaining new insights – gathering new data – was something I could easily do, even in bits and pieces, even one small screen at a time. My friend, on the other hand, was after something different: the specific experience of getting lost in a story. For him, the e-reader was not adequate to the task. It didn’t meet his need.

I bring this up because, of course, much thought is being given these days to the question of whether the “dead tree model” (ink on printed page) is doomed to die. It seems pretty clear to me that it is not, not so long as the act of reading continues to meet different needs – and not so long as one of those needs is “to have the book experience.” Good as ebooks are at delivering information, they’re not particularly good at delivering that tactile, page-turning, ink-sniffing experience. They’re getting better at emulating it, of course, and over time print versions and e-versions will continue to converge. But in the meantime, I think it’s helpful to writers and readers alike to understand what a reader’s need is for any given book, and what’s the best way to meet that need.

If your need is to acquire information, clearly the ebook is more efficient than the printed page. You can get the content more quickly, store it more flexibly, and transport it more easily (i.e.,  you don’t have to lug around a cinderblock). But if your need is to have a fulfilling “take me someplace I’ve never been” book-reading experience, the e-version remains (at least as of now) a less adequate alternative.

This is not to praise nor condemn either version. I’m neither a luddite nor a digital crusader. I’m just an author trying to make sense of the post-paper world, and trying to find my place in it. From the realm of creative problem-solving I understand that it’s damn difficult to solve a problem if you can’t first state it, so in order to judge whether the printed word or the e-word is a better platform for my own reading, I start by asking, “What need does this meet?” and go forward from there. It’s a strategy I commend to your attention, not just for deciding whether to read the electronic version or print version of a book, but in confronting all of life’s complexities. When we understand the need we’re trying to meet, we’re already halfway to meeting it.

Which brings me by roundabout means to my new novel, Lucy in the Sky. It’s a coming-of-age tale set in Milwaukee in 1969, and has been described as “a real sixties trip for young seekers and old geezers alike.” It’s available in print and e-book versions, and I can’t tell you which version you’ll enjoy more. I can only say that if your goal is to acquire information (“What was it really like growing up in the sixties?”) then the e-version will suit your needs. If, however, you want to have the “curl up with a good book and travel back in time” experience, then the print version, with pages you can turn and a spine you can crack, will serve you better. (If you like your stories read out loud to you, well, the author-narrated audio version is totally awesome, but that’s a discussion for another time). If you’d like a free taste of my dear Lucy, I direct your attention to www.tinyurl.com/lucy1969, where you’ll find sample chapters and ordering information for the print version and the ebook version alike. For that book – for every book – start by asking yourself what your need is, and whether your chosen format is suited to meeting that need, and you’re well on your way to having the peak reading experience you seek.

John Vorhaus has published five novels and many books on poker. His comedy writing text, The Comic Toolbox, is considered a classic how-to book for writers, and will be making money for someone long after he’s dead, buried and gone. He tweets for no apparent reason @TrueFactBarFact and secretly controls the world from www.johnvorhaus.com.

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Written by Jade

Jade is a book blogger from NC. In her spare time she loves to read and build and maintain websites. She has been reading since she was four and building websites since she was 16. SortofBeautiful.com was born on March 8, 2011 and is a fantastic merging of her two favorite hobbies. Enjoy your stay!

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11 Responses to “Guest Post: by Author John Vorhaus”

  1. Great guest post! I’m definitely one of those people who would choose snuggling up with an e-reader instead of a cinderblock – I cannot deny the convenience of my kindle.

  2. I’m a paper and ink book girl most of the time! Jade, I enjoyed your review (previous post) of the book, and John seems like a thoughtful author! Thanks for the introduction to another interesting read!!!

  3. I used to be ALL for printed books (and I mean I had a totally-against-ebooks kind of loyalty to paperbacks LOL)! Because I love having the actual book in my hands where I can hold and hug and safely throw across the room when I get upset with it x) (Just kidding!) But now I’m actually warming up to the idea of ebooks. It’s just that it’s so portable and convenient — like you could switch between books easily if you got bored of one instead of hauling around two paperbacks, right? :’)

    Really awesome guest post, John! And Jade, I know you liked Lucy in the Sky so I’m definitely looking into it 😉 <3

    • Jade Jade says:

      I was the same way at first Mimi. Then I decided to stop being so stubborn and jump into ebooks. So glad I did! I love both formats.

  4. I loved the audio version. It felt like being inside Gene’s head.

  5. I don’t think print books are going to die out at all. Love this guest post because makes some really great points. I just love the flexibility of books these days. I can get my fix any way, any how. Well… unless I’m studying for this stupid bar. Grr!

    • Jade Jade says:

      Me either. There are too many book people who love the feel of a traditional book. But the ease and convenience of the ebooks cannot be denied.

  6. My eyes would kill me if I read something that big on my iphone. I have a few short stories on my iphone now. I have good eyesight but if I read them to long things get a bit hazy. I don’t think books will be extinct there are too many book lovers out there. Like Me!