How To Tell A Great StoryGreat StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 14, Issue 2 – 15 February 2018

Thank you all your positive and constructive response to our last newsletter. I am sorry I didn’t reply to some of your messages. I only saw them now because they were sent to an email that I hardly check. If you want to contact me, please write to

I have happy news – I have two works being published. A short story, ‘Legend of Nagakanna’, has been accepted in an anthology called ‘We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture’ which will be published by the School of Advanced Studies, University of London in 2018. Then, I have a collection of stories called ‘Two Snakes Whistling at the Same Time’ which will be published by MPH Publishers. More details on these publications as I receive them.

The thing is, ‘Legend of Nagakanna’ is a chapter in my yet unpublished novel. After many years of wondering, conjecturing and hoping (i.e. wasting time), I am considering taking that step to have it self-published. Rohi, of course, believes that it should be only in eBook form. I like physical books. These differences are what we’ve decided to write about in our pieces today. Do not hesitate to add your comments – I’ve provided links to the webpages where the stories appear for you to enter your comments in the ‘Comments’ Box. All else failing, send me an email at

Happy storytelling.
Aneeta Sundararaj


–> Why I Prefer Print to E-book/Electronic by Aneeta Sundararaj

–>25 Reasons Why I Prefer E-books to Print Books by Dr. Rohi Shetty

STORY ME – Why I Prefer Print to E-book/Electronic by Aneeta Sundararaj

With the advent of Industry 4.0, there are no limits to the options available for consumers. Is this a good thing, though? Especially for writers and readers? Is there still a need for books, journals, newspapers and magazines? The stories below show that we still need physical reading material to make life worth living.

Disaster, luxury and skills
Here’s what happened when I started writing for the papers. Delighted to see my words in print, I cut that page out and glued it into a scrapbook. As the number of my published articles increased, so did the space in this scrapbook. When I mentioned this to the editor, she told me off and said I should ‘just keep the links and go digital.’

I am glad I didn’t listen to her. Instead, I bought more scrapbooks and kept physical copies of every single one of the 280-odd articles that were published. You see, in less than three months after the first scrapbook was full of my articles, the newspapers changed the design of their website. All the links to the stories I wrote for the papers were gone. If I had kept only the digital links, it would be as though I never wrote for the papers at all.

My desire to read things in print was reinforced when, last year, I bought a copy of the New Yorker. In it, there’s a story by Hanna Beech about Aung Sun Suu Kyi called ‘The Shame of Myanmar’s Heroine’. It was such luxury to read this article over a cup of coffee. I enjoyed the writing and learnt something new. Later, during a discussion with a friend, I encouraged her to buy a copy of the magazine. I wanted her to read how Aung San Suu Kyi stayed true to the principles of non-violence. From memory, I said, “Look at page 29 in the first column.”

Later, it occurred to me that had I sent the online link, I couldn’t have told her exactly where to look. I would probably have said something simple like, “Scroll down the page.”

Here’s what I know – when I read stuff on paper, I read slowly. There is a method to my reading which I cannot put into words. But I retain the information better and I am sure that there is some scientific explanation for it. Perhaps, the words I’m looking for are best enunciated by Amata Luphaiboon, an architect in Thailand. He says, “Websites don’t provide the depth that books can. With the printed product, you can compare plans and look at the actual built project on the page. I don’t think web readers can develop their analytical skills in architecture as well as those who read actual books.” 1

It’s in the word
With actual books, it’s there in the very first phrase you’d say such as, ‘I picked up a book in the store,’ or ‘I picked up a trashy novel in the airport bookstore.’ No one I know says, ‘I picked up a tablet.’ Magazines, books, journals and other reading materials are something solid. Remember the slightly rough texture of a page? Or running your fingers across the embossed words of the title on the dust jacket?

Would you say the same of a tablet? Be honest. Have you ever run your fingers across the cover design of the novels you’ve read on a computer screen? Would you ever smell the screen to inhale the smell of a page? Chances are if you can smell something off a screen, it’s just plain filthy.

More than physical
That said, there is one benefit to reading eBooks that remains undisputed. With an eReader, you can store an infinite number of books at a fraction of the cost. I was at a launch of a book one time and the author was not particularly proud of his achievement. I wondered why. He confided in me that even though his book was selling like hot cakes locally, he couldn’t send the books to those who mattered to him like his sister in Canada. “Aneeta,” he said, “my book retails at RM19.90. But the cost of postage is RM15.00. It’s not worth it.”

Indeed, this seems to apply to newspapers as well. The national newspapers here in Malaysia recently underwent a restructuring exercise and states that, “The other initiative is the creation of new content verticals, a merger of editorial content teams with digital product development and brand management, with education and lifestyle verticals becoming the first to be established. These content verticals are introduced to meet the new business landscape, offering new value added alternatives and customer centric approach.” 2

‘Content verticals’?
‘Education and lifestyle verticals?’

I don’t understand what these terms mean. And when I look them up, I see that they have to do with businesses wanting to cater to the millennials. I close the webpage to do some soul searching.

First, since the beginning of the year, the number of pages in this national newspaper has reduced drastically. In fact, the weekend papers now don’t have a full page of comics. Instead, they publish articles about food and chefs to holidays in exotic locations that most Malaysians can’t afford. What is even more shocking is that the price of the paper has remained constant. Although I am still ordering the print edition, I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth the money.

Second, I am no millennial and I’ve reached the stage where I want to enjoy a story. Not read it because the source I’m reading from is the first to report it. I don’t care if someone is writing the story years after the event; if it’s well-written, I will still enjoy it.

Perhaps, what I should do is follow the example of Amata Luphaiboon and subscribe to only three magazines. This is because I still love the feelings and experiences that come with reading a print newspaper or book.

And there it is, it all boils down to ‘feelings’. I can never forget the feel of the hard cover copy of ‘Joseph Anton’. Or the yellow pages of ‘The Long Pilgrim’. Then there’s the leather-bound copy of the Holy Bible with wafer-thin, gold tipped pages. There are torn copies of Amar Chitra Katha which I glued to keep from falling apart. I wrote my name on the cover of some of them and it was the first time I was using long hand.

So, yes, I feel that when it comes time to publish my next book, I will choose to print a proper book. I may choose an eBook, but this will be in addition to the actual book.

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject matter. Please join the conversation below.



  1. Nicharee Phatitit. Society Bookworms Part 2 of 5: Amata Luphaiboon. Dec 21, 2017 []
  2. Awaina Arbee. NSTP restructures management in digital push. []
STILLNESS AND FLOW: 25 Reasons Why I Prefer E-books to Print Books by Dr. Rohi Shetty

A few years ago, I wanted to read Illusions by Richard Bach. Much to my disappointment, the book was not available in any of the local bookstores. It took me hours to visit every bookstore in town and then browse the entire store in a vain attempt to find the book. Finally, I borrowed it from my friend who had bought a used copy from a pavement seller.

Today if I want to read Illusions, all I have to do is to go online, search for the Kindle book in Amazon and buy it with just a few clicks. I can download it and start reading the book within a few minutes.

So, though I still enjoy reading print books, I prefer to read e-books. E-books have many advantages over print books, both as a reader and as a digital publisher.

A. Here are some ways e-books score over printed books for readers:

  1. Low cost: The price of e-books is significantly less than any hard copy. This is one of the main reasons to opt for printed book. You can use the money saved to buy more books.
  2. Convenience: If you want a specific book, you don’t have to hunt for it in a bookstore; you can simply buy it online without leaving your home. And you can preorder a book even before it’s published.
  3. Speed of access: You can buy an e-book and download it immediately instead of waiting for a printed book to be delivered or go to a bookstore to buy it.
  4. Updated information: When you order an e-book, it usually contains the most up to date information. Traditionally printed books are less likely to have the latest information.
  5. Additional bonuses: Many e-books have extra bonuses and related information, which is usually free or costs just a little bit extra.
  6. Less storage space: You can have thousands of e-books on your computer and have access to infinite numbers of e-books online, which are free or paid. The whole of the internet is your library. Compare this to your bookshelves overflowing with books and the bother of transferring them whenever you change your residence.
  7. Easy to share: E-books can be shared with family and friends with a few clicks.
  8. Ecologically friendly: E-books help to save trees and reduce pollution linked to the production and distribution of printed books. “Save paper, save trees; save the world from disease.”
  9. More portable: E-books are much easier to carry than traditional books. Also, you are forced to limit the number of printed books you can carry in your luggage, especially if you’re traveling by air.
  10. Access to references: While reading, you can click on hyperlinks for easy and instant access to online references. Many e-readers also provide access to meanings, synonyms, and translations using the inbuilt dictionary, thesaurus and references.
  11. Custom branding: You can brand other people’s content with your name with the help of PLR or co-branding rights.
  12. Easily searchable: You can find specific information and keywords within e-books using the search tool easily and fast.
  13. Improved technology: Rapid advances in quality of e-readers, monitors, and smartphone screens and increased access to internet via wireless networks will make e-books even more convenient and widespread.
  14. Improved readability: Often the font in print books may be too small or difficult to read. If you don’t want to strain your eyes, opt for e-books because you can alter them to suit your requirements– you can choose different fonts and change the font size, font color, line spacing, paragraph spacing, etc.
  15. Longevity: Unlike print books, e-books don’t get torn, disfigured, misplaced or stolen.
  16. Note-taking: You can mark e-books in many ways – highlight using different colors, underline, bold, and so on. You can copy and paste your notes in a separate file and use it as a book-summary.

B. Here are some ways e-books score over print books for writers and digital publishers:

In addition to the benefits for readers listed above, publication of e-books provides the following fantastic benefits to writers and creative entrepreneurs:

  1. Low production costs: Compared to print books, costs of publication of e-books are miniscule. The almost negligible cost of publication and distribution is a huge advantage. There is no additional production cost, even if you sell a millions of copies. Arising from this, no risk of your e-book going out of print.
  2. Low distribution costs: Many websites such as Amazon, Apple, and Smashwords sell and market e-books for free and charge a commission from the actual sale, which can range from 30 to 70 percent. Some other websites like Clickbank and e-junkie charge a fixed monthly fee.
  3. Bonuses: You can provide free bonuses such as cheat sheets, checklists, worksheets, and companion courses bundled with your e-books at no extra cost to you.
  4. Images: Print books need high-quality high-resolution images, which can be a major constraint. For e-books, you may actually prefer low-resolution images to reduce the size of the digital file so that it can be downloaded and shared easily.
  5. Additional reference material: You can easily add links to related images, infographics, articles, audios, videos and references in your e-books. Your readers can access all these valuable resources with a few clicks, which enhance the value of your e-books.
  6. Easy updating: You can update your e-books whenever necessary and make the updated versions available to your readers for free.
  7. Available 24 x 7: Once published, your e-books are available for download or sale all the time. Your online store is never closed.
  8. Free worldwide distribution: Anyone can access and download your book from anywhere in the world. There are no shipping and handling costs for digital books.
  9. E-books bundle: One of the most popular online marketing strategies is for a group of authors to come together and sell their e-books as a bundle on a similar topic such as self development or Paleo diet. Usually the “bundle” is offered at a fraction of the total cost of all the e-books in the bundle.


The debate of print books versus digital books is likely to continue for a long time. Personally speaking, the only reason why I would prefer to read a print book is if the e-book version is not available! However, as far as publication is concerned, I plan to publish my books not only as e-books but also as print books and audiobooks.

Join the conversation:

How do you prefer to read books? And more importantly, do you plan to publish your books solely as e-books or as print books as well?

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