Writer’s Craft #79 That New Book Smell

Anne E. Johnson, based in Brooklyn, has published nearly thirty short stories in a variety of genres and for both adults and children. Green Light Delivery, her first novel in print, was published in June, 2012, by Candlemark & Gleam. She also writes novels for tweens. Learn more on her website, http://anneejohnson.com.

Full disclosure: Green Light Delivery is not, technically, my first published novel. It is my first novel for adults and my first science fiction novel. But, most important, it is my first novel published in print, rather than only as an e-book.
I’ve spent the last few years giving myself pep talks about the changing technology of publishing. “Digital is the future,” I said to myself (and my dubious family) over and over. “E-book is the same as print these days. Maybe better.”
But when my Green Light Delivery author copies arrived, I realized something: that physical thing called a book, the object I grew up holding, clutching, turning its pages eagerly…it matters. Having a novel published in paper gave me a much stronger sense of pride than I felt when I had an e-novel published. And my first signing was a thrill, opening those pages to write the note, feeling the curl of the verso pages under the heel of my hand as I wrote. Kindlegraph just ain’t the same.
How do you, as authors, feel about the final product of publication? Is an e-book publication as satisfying to you as a print book? Is it valid to crave a printed book to show as an accomplishment?

7 thoughts on “Writer’s Craft #79 That New Book Smell

  1. I love physical books. I confess. I’ve worked in computing most of my life. So what? I listen to books on disk, but I rarely read digital for pleasure. And as a writer, yep. I’m with you. There is nothing like holding a new publication in your hands. I am happy my books are out in e-formats because it makes them available to more people. But I have a special place in my heart for the readers who collect the series in print form.

  2. When my book was published in ‘e’ form last September, I rejoiced. I was finally a ‘published author’. But when I first held the print copy in my hands, I knew, viscerally, that I was indeed a published author!

  3. It’s more than just a good feeling. It’s much simpler to donate a dead-tree copy of a book to a library than an e-version. (Never underestimate the power of a library to introduce new readers to your work.) Also, when it comes to hawking your work at conventions, there’s nothing like a solid item which you can carry around, sign and have copies of on a table. Cards with the cover art just aren’t the same. There are dozens of practical reasons that print books have value and advantages beyond the visceral thrill to the author.

  4. I was an “early” adopter of the electronic format and have approximately 350 books of various formats on my Palm. For those of you familiar with it, the world would be a much poorer place without Project Gutenberg. Having made that point, I love buying physical books at signings, getting a little piece of a favourite authour’s life to treasure. I admit it, I delight in simply opening signed books from time to time and reading the salutations. It feels like community.

  5. I’m with everyone here on this. I’m happy my books are out in e-format for those who prefer that (let’s face it, the younger generation does everything E and it’s only going to get busier), and I do own a Kindle and love the “immediacy” of it, I’d really rather have print. Not only is there nothing like holding a book in your hands…there’s nothing like being able to take a pen and write notes in the margins or cram little pieces of ephemera inside them. My books, especially ones I love, become mini-journals. And I’m much more apt to submit my short stories to places which offer print. As a person who sells books at fairs and cons, I’m with Justine. A card with a photo isn’t the same, whether it’s my book I’m selling or a book I want to buy.

  6. Always been a sucker for special little notebooks, myself. Carry a moleskin one or leather notebook in my purse at all times … beside the iphone/ipad power cord. 🙂

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