Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paper or Plastic?

Paper or Plastic?
By P.J. MacLayne

We all got used to hearing “paper or plastic” when grocery stores moved to plastic bags umpteen year ago. The majority of us gladly accepted plastic. They were lighter, easier to store, and could be used again. The thought that they were bad for the environment didn't even cross our minds for many years. Now it's hard to find a grocery store that provides paper bags.

The current debate is e-book vs paper. There are a lot of advantages to books in electronic format. They are more environmentally friendly, for one thing. A small e-book reader can hold 1400 or so books. How much space would that many books take up in your home or apartment? And how much paper would be used in their creation?

E-books also tend to be cheaper. It depends upon the publisher of course, but unless you're buying used books, you aren't likely to find a paperback for ninety-nine cents. All sorts of e-books are on sale for that price every day.

True, it's harder to share that great book you just finished with your best friend. On some platforms, it can be done, but it's not as easy as picking it up off the coffee table and handing it over.

Having grown up before the era of e-books, transitioning to the new format was difficult for me. There’s nothing like curling up in your favorite chair with a paper book in your hand and your favorite beverage nearby. The feel of the paper between your fingers as you turn the page. The experience isn’t the same holding a tablet and flicking a finger over the surface.

Which do you prefer?

Dot, the heroine in my book, Wolves’ Pawn, would fall among the supporters of paperbacks. Money is tight for her, and she needs to be able to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. She can leave a physical book behind without an issue, but leaving behind an e-reader would be tough. Besides, she prefers to pay for everything in cash when she is on the road. Makes it harder to be traced.

Here’s an excerpt where she’s getting ready to run:

The campers were gone, but Dot hesitated at the top of the hillside. The birds were hushed, their silence unnatural. She reached out with her other senses but found nothing unusual. As noiselessly as possible in her human form, she moved across the top of the ridge, the breeze blowing softly across her face.
            The faint scent of a campfire remained in the air, but not enough to worry her. No smoke rose from the campfire pit and that was the important thing. The grass was pushed down where the tents used to be, but would spring back in a few days. The garbage had apparently been packed out as she saw none around the meadow.
            Still, she delayed going to the house. A large crow landed near her and cocked its head, staring at her. She wondered what message it carried. As the bird flapped its wings and flew off, she detected the sound of a motor coming down the road. She listened, puzzled—were the campers coming back? Why had they taken down their tents if they had planned to return?
            Now the sound grew more distinct. It was not one motor, but several. Four men on motorcycles pulled into the clearing and parked a little way away from the house, talking loudly amongst themselves. Three forced their way into the house while one stood outside, scanning the meadow. Finally, the three came back outside. The conversation came to her in snatches;
            “Others … here, but … recently.”
            “Fresh scent.”
            “No … tracks.”
            The fourth man stood still, scanning the area. His gaze moved towards the trees beyond the clearing and Dot hugged the ground. She prayed the wind would not change directions. She dared not back away from her vantage point, fearing the noise of crackling leaves and breaking twigs would be enough for them to hear.
            “Spread out … the woods.”
            Her choices were limited. She needed to get back to her bike and leave. The only thing in the house was her sleeping bag and it could be replaced. Before she could move, she saw the fourth man go to the fire pit and grab the firewood the campers had left. He stacked it against the house, then grabbed a can from the saddlebag of his bike and poured some sort of liquid over the wood. Her other sight showed her the malicious grin on his face and her other smell caught a strong odor of kerosene. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one. Carelessly, he tossed it on top of the stack and watched as the stack lit, catching the dried wood of the old house on fire as well.

No, Dot would have no time to grab a valuable e-reader.

Wolves’ Pawn is available on only in e-book format on Amazon for the time being. There will be a paperback version available in the near future.  Here’s the link to buy it.

P.J. MacLayne is a computer geek by day and a writer by night. She was born in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania where many of her stories are set. She currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.


  1. Thanks for visiting today. Wolves' Pawn sounds exciting!

  2. No matter what media, a good book is still a good book.Congratulations on Wloves' Pawn.

  3. I used to think nothing would ever be as good as a 'real' book - a paper book, but since getting a Kindle I have almost completely changed my mind. Ebooks are great and easy to store, The only problem is that if you want to read a scene you particularly loved, it's very hard to find it again!

  4. I agree with Marie. I love reading on my iPad. I read when I eat alone so it is easy to eat and just let the iPad lie beside my plate. No holding it open with one hand! And it is easier to keep a LOT of books!

  5. Marie, have you tried using bookmarks? My kindle app has them available, but I admit, I don't use the functionality.

  6. I am looking forward to getting an e-reader. I know, I'm like the only one that doesn't have one. Not sure what kind, yet.

  7. I use an iPad with the Kindle app. I got the iPad free. :) You can also get the app for your computer or laptop.

  8. You have a spare style of writing that I really like, Pat. Good luck with sales.

    I've always been a staunch fan of the paper book. But I just read my first book on a borrowed Kindle, and it was a fine way to read. E-books and hard copies are just delivery systems for stories, anyway -- it's the story that is important. When I have to hit the road again, I'll get a tablet and start hitting e-books.

  9. I read both but am slowly switching to predominantly ebooks. My library is full, plus I like to highlight and bookmark and ebook without hearing my mother tell me I'm ruining the book:D