History is full of examples of new technology being heralded with predictions that it would completely replace something that already existed.
It’s rarely proved to be the case. Radio continues despite the proliferation of TV. People send greetings cards even though it’s quicker and easier to ping off an email. You can even get a ride on a steam train even though electric and diesel trains are cheaper and more reliable. Vinyl records are making a comeback even though it’s simpler to play a CD or download a track via the internet.
What has this got to do with books? With the arrival of the Kindle and other means of reading digital copies of books, it looked as though the days of printed books were numbered. It’s yet to happen, even if the future may belong to e-books.
The canniest authors and publishers are aware that there is probably room for both formats, at least for the time being. Like other competing technologies each has its advantages and disadvantage and, in turn, its fans. So while some like the fact they can store hundreds of books on a device thinner than a slim paperback, others will view their collection of well-thumbed volumes like old friends.
Others will find a place for both formats. It’s these people that James Patterson is clearly aiming at with his latest offering.
As the world’s top-selling thriller writer, Patterson probably doesn’t need to worry too much about looking for new readers, but he is doing just that. His first three Alex Cross novels – Along Came a Spider (1993), Kiss The Girls (1995), and Jack and Jill (1996) have been reissued as e-books for the first time.
They deserve to attract new readers to his work as well as, perhaps, persuading those with physical copies of his books to add a digital version.
Along Came A Spider was the first of over 20 novels starring Cross, a Washington DC-based former FBI agent and psychologist. They’ve been published in 43 languages in over 100 countries.
If you like your thrillers fast-paced with psychopathic killers and a very human detective racing against time to solve the case, you owe it to yourself to take a look at Patterson’s books if you haven’t already done so. It doesn’t really matter whether you read his words off paper or a screen.