There’s no doubt in my mind that by offering my novel, Where The Clouds Live, in the from of an ebook I could easily double or even triple the revenue I’ve made so far as a paperback writer. In digital from, the book would be available for purchase almost anywhere in the world twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week from a variety of sources on a variety of devices. But while I aspire to one day possess the power of using dollar bills as construction paper, putting my personal interests and beliefs first helps me sleep at night. Without being radically charged on the subject or being a “retro” person, I often voice my opinion regarding the importance of authentic publication loudly and proudly.
I’m not completely anti-streaming, anti-digital, or anti-technology (after all, you’re not reading this on a carved rock), but I am pro-substance, pro-experience, and at heart, a romantic. Ask anyone born in the era of vinyl to compare a record’s quality to that of a digital download and ten times out of ten you’ll get the same answer: there is no comparison. From holding the sleeve in one’s hands to the warmer quality of sound, buying and listening to a record was in itself an experience. If one wanted to hear his or her favorite artist, he or she had to purchase the album in person then actually make a small effort to play it, especially if they wished to skip a song or hear the second side. There was no such thing as listening to Blonde On Blonde at the gym or the ability to stream the entire Simon And Garfunkel discography to avoid talking to strangers on a bus. To enjoy an artist’s work, one had to take some time out of his or her day, hang out, and experience every word, note, and nuance in a meaningful and almost magical way. The less effort put toward an experience, the less effect said experience will have on a person.
The same goes for reading a book. In an era in which there are literally billions of books and blogs and easily accessible articles to be read in the palm of your hand, it’s difficult to tell what’s special anymore. But when a work is printed on tangible paper, something deeper and more real occurs, much in the same vein as old photographs or seeing one’s own name in the newspaper as opposed to online. Although ephemera is the basis of tangibility, the work itself becomes far less ephemeral. As a printed book, words become more meaningful and gratifying. The story, without the possibility of countless alternatives at ones’ disposal, has far more depth and impact. Given the respectable nature of literature, humor works better in print, as does drama and horror. Characters have a chance to live and breathe. A printed book is a world in itself, not a world in a vast, digital solar system of varying quality.
I try not to be a materialistic person but I openly admit having a soft-spot for books. I love the experience of reading and re-reading books. I love holding books. I love getting lost in books. I love seeing books on my shelf as decorations. I like the smell of old books and new books. I like buying used books and finding hidden notes and written passages from previous owners. I love libraries. I love bookstores. I love reading books to my daughter. I love giving books away as gifts. I love receiving books as gifts. I love knowing my words and art are actually on a real book that people can flip through and experience. By holding and reading something that I’ve created, friends, family, and total strangers can read my thoughts, ideas, and jokes without me having to be in the same room. Owning a physical copy of my book is a way for one to experience my spirit without experiencing me, physically.