The specialness and importance of books

I subscribe to Joel Friedlander’s blog because he offers so much cogent advice, so many good thoughts, and so much practical information for anyone in the publishing industry today. His blog post today was especially wonderful, called Two Reasons Why Books Matter. I responded on his website, and thought I would copy my response here in my own blog posting :

“Beautifully stated, Joel, and I couldn’t agree more. As an independent publisher, I have always believed in creating a print version along with the ebook version of all my published books. A physical book can travel its way through many people’s lives and across all sorts of physical boundaries, much like what you would discover if you could follow an item of donated clothing as it moves in and out of many people’s lives.

And printed books were the first harbinger of greater personal freedom for the vast majority of people alive in the 1500s. Before then, they had to trust someone higher up the social and political strata to decide what they ‘should’ know, whether it was the truth or not.

Having books in your hand that you own, and having the ability to read them for yourself, is the purest form of freedom despite whatever might constrain you mentally, emotionally, socially, politically, and geographically.

Ebooks have broken geographical barriers, but we all need to remember that if we entrust our ebook versions only to large retailers, those version are owned by those retailers, who can do with them what they will.

I think it’s wise for every publisher to produce a beautiful print version of each book they publish and to make ebook versions that are available on any device so that one big retailer and its unique device doesn’t have an iron grip on the one version of that book available to the world.”

Books should be ‘device neutral’ so that they can be read by as many people as possible, anywhere in the world. Print books have always been able to do that, even if it’s a slow process passed hand to hand. Ebooks can do that too if we keep thinking of independent ways to make that possible.

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