I wrote a real book.
What? you ask. Aren’t you the one that’s been blabbing for months about your book and writing and e-publishing and all that jazz? Haven’t you said that e-readers are the way of the future, and that paper books, while remaining collectable, would eventually fade from wide-spread use over the years? Haven’t you maintained that e-books are real books?
Well…yeah, but now I have a paperback.
I’m mostly joking. I still believe all those things, and paper and ink does not a book make. Nonetheless, I have to admit a thrill from opening the box from CreateSpace and seeing my husband’s beautiful artwork on the cover of a paperback. I sported a grin cracking open that proof for the first time and seeing the words I’d spent so much time on printed on the page.
Is it vanity? I hope not. I think what I’m feeling as I sit next to this book (yes, it’s sitting right next to me on the kitchen table, and I keep glancing at it) is the memory of opening a new book for the first time. It’s the memory of wandering through my grandmother’s favorite bookstore, or passing a book around the table as we took turns reading after dinner when I was a child. It’s the first visit to the library. It’s digging through Half-Price Books in Houston looking for treasures and passing a well-worn paperback to a friend saying, “You just have to read this!” Books weren’t just something to read, they are their own kind of culture.
You see, I come from a family of readers. Books have surrounded me from infancy. Bookcases were an integral part of our eclectic interior decorating. To have only one in a room was considered spare. My husband (who did not come from a family of readers) would balk when we were first married, and I came home with yet another book. He would glance at the already overflowing bookcases, some of which were packed double, and then glance around our tiny living room with concern. Where, his eyes seemed to say, are we going to put this one? I’d just smile and move everything over, or up, or back, or wherever I needed to make a little more room.
Needless to say, he was very excited about the e-reader trend.
He bought me my first Kindle. I liked it…I did! But, it wasn’t the same. Then I discovered something. The girl that loved both traveling like a gypsy and reading voraciously had a new best friend. You see, where I had previously partaken in the fun (though somewhat iffy) culture of taking a paperback and leaving it in a hostel/hotel/camping ground/etc. only to pick up another random book that another had left (I’ve read some interesting and horrible books this way), having a Kindle meant I could carry an entire library at my fingertips! It was a revelation.
And so my love for the e-reader was born. Soon, it was an iPad, which I now carry almost everywhere. I gave my Kindle to a cousin, and now she reads and loves it. I can send a book to my brother in China with a single click, because he has an e-reader. My grandmothers (both in their 90s and still avid readers) are shopping for e-readers because they want the ability to have large print books without paying so much extra. At this point, almost my entire family of avid readers have bought Kindles or Nooks or iPads. I can publish a book and readers from the US, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Romania can all read it the first day it comes out. They can connect online at GoodReads or Facebook and find others who love the same authors or the same type of story. It’s not the same, but a new kind of book culture is being shaped before our eyes.
And yet…I just wrote a “real book.”
I wanted the ability to give readers the option of keeping it on their bookshelf. And though I think a series of articles could be written on the environmental responsibility of the publishing industry, the growth of print on demand businesses like CreateSpace and LightningSource, who only print books as they are ordered, lets me give readers those options and contribute to my own book-loving nostalgia.
Because I wrote and published a “real book” back in October when A Hidden Fire first went on sale, but I hope you understand the thrill of seeing that paperback. Just remember, books aren’t about their format. Books are much bigger than that.
Once, we read on walls and clay tablets. We read scrolls and paged through hand-written manuscripts. The format is alway changing, but what doesn’t change is the story, the love, and the shared culture of discovering new worlds through literature.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. The paperback for A Hidden Fire is already available at CreateSpace and will be available for order through Amazon in the next 5-7 days. Also, for Fire fans, the sequel, This Same Earth officially releases tomorrow! I’ll be sure to do a quick post with links in the next couple of days.