The day I got my first kindle was the day I stopped buying dead-tree fiction. I have bought books for my kids, of course. And I have bought cookbooks, and reference books on subjects like seashell identification and crochet patterns… but I have not purchased a physical copy of a fiction book for myself in over five years.
I completed the harrowing (for me) process of uploading my story Love You Forever to Createspace, and then… I ordered two copies. I’ve uploaded to createspace before, and people have purchased physical copies of my books. But I never myself ordered one. Not even a proof copy. So this is the first time I’ve held one of my books in my hands.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this? I’ve seen status updates from people who get their paperback shipments, people who are proudly showing off stacks of glossy-covered novels with their name on them. Usually these pics come attached to “squee!!” type comments, and then a bunch of responses from friends like “Isn’t it the best feeling ever to hold your book in your hands!?!” and “Congratulations!!” And I’m never sure what exactly people are talking about. I suspect it is not only the physical copy of their story which is so pleasing, but also the fact it was published (usually by a traditional house) that is the source of their pride. I get it: if your book is worth the expense and production of a print run, it must be a pretty good story, right? And I’m happy for these people, because they are happy, and I usually chime in. But I have never had the urge to hold my own books in physical form.
So I’m sitting here with my two copies, and I’m thinking – next time I’m totally going for the 5×8 trim size, and not the default 6×9. And I’m going to do a better job on the back copy. No reason to be just the blurb there. Maybe a wraparound cover image, full bleed, would be better? No drop shadow on my name next time, but it looks good on the title, in this font anyway. Maybe I’ll put an author bio at the end of the book, with a picture. So yeah, instead of being happy about holding an actual copy of my book, I’m critiquing it.
Here, you can too:
It is kind of neat, I guess, to have it in a “real” form. But for me, e-books ARE “real.” It might just be what I’ve become used to? I don’t know. I’m also not a book hoarder. To me, the value is in the words, not the container. Unless I was going to re-read (super rare for me) I always shared or donated all the paperbacks I owned.
There is something else dulling my enthusiasm for these printed copies of my story. Truly, holding them makes me slightly nervous. All those little issues of the image being maybe a tiny bit too far to the left, or the back copy being too skimpy, or the trim size being not the best choice… what if I re-design the cover at some point? And what if there are typos I missed? (I’m certain there are) The physical book is so permanent. *Note to self: next time, do a better job formatting and make everything perfect before going live with the paperback.
But on the flip side, books can be passed around, so that is cool. People can share a physical book much more easily than an e-book. And they have long lifespans, and can pop up in unexpected places. Maybe in ten years someone will pick my book up from a bin at the thrift shop! That could never happen with an e-book. *Note to self: next time, include back copy with other titles and author information
So today I will use Random.org to pick a winner in my HAHAT contest, and if they want a physical signed copy of my story, I am ready to mail it out to them! Now, I just need to figure out what to do with the other one…