Like it or not, a lot of people still prefer printed books to acim bookstore. They like — no, they love — the feel of a printed copy in their hands. It gives them a sense of well-being and solidity, to have a physical work they can carry with them and put on their bookshelves. They’re “old school” and they like it that way. Or, they just never warmed up to eBooks or digital media.
I had a conversation with an international television reporter about one of my books that was coming out soon — I didn’t yet have the printed version in my hands, but I had a PDF eBook I could send him. He said many times over that he hated to read eBooks, but that was all I had at the time, and so I sent it to him. It would have been a whole lot better if I could have sent him a printed copy, instead. Of course, I made do with what I had, but if only…
Now, there’s a very good reason some people like printed books better than eBooks — they can read them anywhere, anytime, without needing a computer to do it. For all the talk about “portable media,” these days, a book is really the ultimate in portable media! It fits in your hand, it doesn’t require batteries, and there are no complicated instructions to figure out! As advanced as our technology may be, there’s nothing like a book to truly “transport information” quickly and efficiently, across the bounds of time and space.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the ultimate medium for portable, instantaneous information sharing is just the thing that a lot of us thought was on its way out, with the advent of the internet!
Books are not “reserved” for the technologically gifted. They’re not available only to people with a computer and a broadband connection. They’re easy to use, easy to transport, and — unlike some of the cutting-edge entertainment technology available today — everybody understands what they’re all about.
When you publish a printed book, you level the playing field for potential customers, and you make it possible for a wider variety of people to access and enjoy your work.
Another reason to create a printed book, is for credibility. With a printed book in hand — especially one with an ISBN — you can approach magazines and newspapers and radio and television hosts and have something in hand to talk about with them. You can mail your book to reviewers and reporters, and you can hold up your creation for the camera, when it comes time to tell the audience what all the excitement is about. And when members of your audience go to their local bookstore to see if they carry your book (depending on what service you use to publish your book), they can put in a request for the book from the bookstore, and potentially help you get it stocked on the bookshelf stores. (Though you may already be convinced, like many other infopreneurs, that bookstores are not the place to sell books, still, it doesn’t hurt to see your book on the shelves of a brick-and-mortar store.)
Probably my favorite reason to publish in print, is how it can take your ideas to a whole new level and get you the kind of exposure once reserved only for the connected elite. Having a book in print has a way of instantly establishing you as an expert, in ways that producing (even getting rich from) digital information products can’t, in the “real world” offline. When people hear you’ve written a book, and they see that book in your hands, a connection kicks in, somewhere inside their heads, that says you must be pretty smart. Chances are, it’s true — you are! But the perception of others that you must be one smart cookie, since you’ve written this book, usually doesn’t get so far as to delve into the nature of your book, if it’s any “good,” or if your work is widely accepted and respected in academic or commercial circles.
Everyday folks have an innate respect for people who can write down enough coherent thought, and organize it completely enough, to produce a book. An awful lot of people never get that far. Some may think about it, but never do it. As a published author, as far as a lot of folks are concerned, you’re in a league of your own. And that’s a pretty good feeling!
I’ve gotten a bit of practice having that feeling. To my friends and family, I’m “just Kay” and that’s fine with me. All that fame business just kind of gets in the way, when it comes to my personal relationships. But to people who read the international press in the areas I publish in (technology and cross-cultural concerns), I have a somewhat different persona — I’m a published author who has caught the attention of folks from Asia and Europe with a controversial and rabble-rousing work that hit the presses in the fall of 2006. It’s pretty cool, to come across people from far away, who have read reviews of my books in magazines and newspapers I’ve never heard of. And I’ve got some pretty cool clippings of articles that mention me — and my book — exclusively, or in passing. That was all possible, because I published a printed book. It doesn’t matter that I have eBook versions of my works available for instant download. Most of the time, that’s not even on the radar of the mainstream international press. In fact, if anything, they kind of turn up their noses when I mention my eBook. But my printed version of that same book… well, that’s another story.