As a publisher the number one question I get asked is, when books go the way of the dinosaur will I have to live in a van down by the river? What will I do with myself when books are no longer relevant; that if I don’t change my antiquated ways, I’ll wind up left on the floor like an overexposed negative, like the Kodak Corporation.
The publishing industry, like everything else on the planet, is in a constant state of flux. But adapting to change does not mean you abandon what’s been a mainstay of civilization alongside other great inventions like fire and the wheel. The written word isn’t here just to entertain us; it’s what makes us human.
As a purveyor and publisher of the written word, I went with great anticipation, and a little bit of trepidation, to Book Expo America (BEA) held annually in NYC. If you’re a book lover, this is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Every publisher was on site along with their newest releases, their best and bestselling authors, winding lines of ecstatic fans, a kaleidoscope of colors, tons of touchable textures, tremendous and tantalizing topics; it was like a candy store for your brain!!
There were books everywhere!! And yes, I mean physical books, not virtual books. There were even hardcovers, which I had been told where a dying breed due to their size and shipping cost. But here they stood in their brilliant and gleaming dust jackets, drawing me closer and closer until I had no choice but to pick them up and look inside! There’s something about meeting the real thing
in person….just ask anyone who’s ever done any Internet dating.
I publish physical books. I also have everything we publish converted to an electronic format. But the fish aren’t biting the virtual food. Our clientele like to give books away as much as they like to read them. How would you feel about parting with your Kindle or Nook after reading a book that changed your life so someone else could do the same? Don’t think that’s going to happen.
There were some digital publishers represented, the vast majority of floor space, by far, was devoted to traditional publishing houses where there were scores of people picking up the physical product. The children’s section was the most fun. Can a child get the same excitement by holding a Kindle in bed with their parent? There just aren’t enough sides to it to share, are there?
I got to read a book about sharks that had real shark teeth in it! I got to hold a book that had science fiction pop-up pictures! I even got to hold a stuffed animal that represented the main character in the book I had picked up! You see, books aren’t just for the eye to behold. There’s a whole other plethora of senses that are stimulated when you read a physical book. You can hear sounds, smell scents, touch fabric, and the coolest of all, see lenticular 3-D pictures!
And then I turned the corner and saw the beloved coffee table books, huge, glossy, gorgeous collections of galaxies, art, castles, dogs, everything under sun; the perfect accessory to any room and able to match any décor.
Think of reading a book like ordering a bowl of delicious, nutritious soup. I don’t care if you slurp it from a spoon, suck it through a straw, or gulp straight from the bowl itself. As long as you are getting fed, it’s all good, the delivery method matters not.
Books are here to stay. And book lovers are the ones who will shape and change the world as long as time exists. So let’s not argue over whether we are Kindle spirits when all that matters is that we are kindred spirits. We share a common love, a passion for reading and thinking. So if you don’t see me in a van down by the river, I’ll be poring over some transformational manuscript and evolving into a more tremendous version of me!
You crack me up Mark! Trust me, even if I was living in a van down by the river I’d pack lots of tremendous books so all would be well!! You would have loved the expo. Went to also get cover concepts ideas and just to bask in the creativity of others. It was dreamy. You would have been right at home:-)
You always make me laugh Mark:-) You would have loved it, th ecolors, the covers, the sheer visual, marketing genius. Got lots of ideas when I was there and there were tons of dog books! Even a few there with their humans. But none were pawthors like the lovely Ruby Red who you got the chance to work with.
Whew! I’m all outta breath! I just ran down to the river to see if there was a van parked there. There wasn’t. I’m much relieved… : )
I suppose anything that encourages reading is good (I got my start on the backs of cereal boxes when they used to have whole blocks of text), but I’m not ready to give up the tactile experience! Or the smell!
(Will Kindles some day come with “book smell” aromatic dispensers?? I don’t wanna hear it!)
The Expo sounds very cool. Not as dusty, dim, and musty as a used bookstore maybe, but hey, it’s tough to conjure up that kind of ambiance on a large scale… : )
Great post, spend your money on books, not vans!! : )
Thanks so much Deborah! Yes, well read is well fed. I once had someone tell me they wouldn’t read a book if it wasn’t an eBook. I suspect they hadn’t read a book in many years:-) Thanks for being a lover of books, reading and thinking and for your “like” and tremendous comment on my blog. Very much appreciated. Can’t wait to check you out and find out the meaning of the Closet Monster!
Deborah the Closet Monster
So let’s not argue over whether we are Kindle spirits when all that matters is that we are kindred spirits.
Oh, how I love this line!
I don’t have an e-reader because I don’t need another gadget in my life, but I do make certain to always have an ebook on my phone. My other senses aren’t engaged the same way as when I hold a traditional book in my hands, but my mind is every bit as engaged in the stories being told. Whether I read on my phone or in a more traditional format, I’ve gained the knowledge and insight to discuss the book with another who’s read it, regardless of the format in which it reached them . . . not that I’d thought it quite like that before reading this post!
LOL, next year then!
Sounds fantabulous!! I woulda gone, but I had my nose inna book. Ironic, eh?? : )