March 8, 2013

What Constitutes a "Real" Book?

One of the discussions I follow on Facebook had writers saying that they don't feel like "real" writers unless they are able to hold their book in their hands.  I paused to think about this.  It was exciting when the UPS man would deliver a carton of books to my house and when I saw them for the first time, but what excited me the most was seeing the cover art, which I always saw (and received cover flats) well before the books were actually printed. I felt that way well before the introduction of eBooks. The next most exciting thing was seeing my book on the store shelves, where the public could see it, and hopefully buy it.

That was then.  These days I'm an independent writer and publisher, and what puts the zigzag pattern on my EKG is seeing my book for sale at the first online retailer to get it offered after I upload (usually Amazon, which takes about four or five hours vs. more than 24 hours for Barnes & Noble).  I had that thrill just a few weeks ago, when I uploaded Man of Her Heart and saw its page for the first time  On the other hand, last week I received a carton of books from my old publisher, who reissued a mass market edition of one of my trade paperback women's fiction works (A New Kind of Bliss, if anyone's interested).  I'd seen the new cover art (it's very nice, IMO).  My biggest concern was that the books were delivered the same day we received a foot of snow, and while I'd cleared the driveway, it was such a big job I decided to wait one more day to do the steps and sidewalks because I wasn't expecting anyone (and anyone out walking their dog could walk in the street, as far as I was concerned).  The poor UPS man had to plow through a foot of snow on my walkway to get to the front door, and I felt badly about his having to do that.  The carton itself got shoved into my coat closet...and it's still there ten days later, unopened.

What do you think?  Does a book available in print seem more real than a book that is only in electronic format?  I'd also love your thoughts on the new cover art for A New Kind of Bliss as well...


DonnaD said...

For financial reasons, I am primarily going the ebook route. But I am going to upload print version and I will have a few copies printed out - some for me, some for giveaways, some for sale.

Even though I'm primarily an e-reader now, I still love the idea of holding my book in my hands. Then it will feel real to me. It will feel even more real when people buy it and review it - in whatever format they wish!

Kat Yares said...

Yes, a printed book seems more 'real' in that once I have it, it's really mine. eBooks are licensed, so I don't really own them - which is why, when I find a great book, I'll buy it in print and allow it to join the other 5000 on my bookshelves.
And yes, I buy print copies of my own books for the very same reason.

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for weighing in, ladies!