What makes the experience of reading a print book, so inherently different, and occasionally, better?
Is it the fact it’s actually not as easy to bring with me all the places I might want to take it? Is there a luxury in its impracticality? Or does the generally higher price point of print books make for a selectivity that weeds out clutter? A print book is a commitment. It will occupy physical space in my living environment, and possibly accompany me if I move. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love books, in any form. When I am an old woman, I will do nothing but read them, and, I hope, write them. The convenience of being able to store a library in my purse has kept my spirits alive on numerous airport layovers. And as a writer, I believe the ability of any independent author to distribute their book worldwide today is nothing short of revolutionary.
But there’s still something about an old-school, tangible book, something I feel every indie author should also tap into. Something they shouldn’t neglect as they self-publish.
A physical book can be found. I don’t know what I want to read today, just that I don’t have it. This problem feels like one that can only be solved by a bookstore (preferably a used one) or a library or library bookstore, or even a coffee shop in which I can stumble across a mishmash of accidental inventory and feel its fate when I discover that book or author that has been waiting to meet my need. I can touch the book, wonder how it came to land there and if it’s meant for my eyes. I can flip through it, judge its relative value and potentially discover similar books in a tangible way. In ebookstores, I’m not so picky. I can buy anything, instantly, and the convenience can lead to regret. Yes, ebookstores are searchable by nature, and with a near infinite inventory. No doubt they house more books I would enjoy than my local physical bookstore or library ever could. But sometimes shopping is about knowing what you want when you stumble upon it. Ebookstores can be like Netflix. If you don’t know what the content you’re searching for is called, or if that content isn’t tagged, categorized and optimized for search, you may never find it. Browsing a bookstore is an enjoyable pastime, regardless of whether I’m successful. Searching for books online is outcome-oriented.