I can take a physical book anywhere. Like into the bathtub. Or to the beach. I confess, I own one of those supposedly waterproof plastic covers for my ipad, but with limited battery time in the roasting sun, devices outdoors still have their limitations. A print book doesn’t have these problems. Print books don’t lose their charge on a five-hour flight or have to be stowed for take-off when you’re midway through. Print books give readers added choice on where to engage with them.
A physical book can be recycled, shared and read repeatedly. I like to give away, sell or trade my physical books when I’m done. This way, I feel l’ve done the book some justice by enabling another reader to benefit from it. My mother-in-law and I are fans of the same writers, so each book we buy becomes both a gift to ourselves and, after we read it, a gift to each other. We might even share it with a third friend or trade it in or donate it after we’re done. Printed books have a slight leg up in shareability. Sure, you can share ebooks, but the karmic chain isn’t as long. You can only loan a book you’ve bought on Kindle once, for instance, and only for 14 days.
Reading books on my device feels like work. Reading a printed book is an escape. Reading a book on my device feels like work. There are so many other things I could be doing with that same multitasking device if I’m going to stare at it for hours. Like checking the news, or Facebook, or responding to that email I was hoping to ignore for one more day. Why would I use my time for leisure when so many pressing tasks are conveniently at my fingertips? Too many distractions. Come to think of it, I read different types of books in different modes: digitally, I download books mainly about business. In print, I read for pleasure.
For authors, print books make great takeaways. Yes, you can autograph your book digitally. But you can’t give it away to potential readers or clients as effectively. You can hand out cards promoting the book, but you’ve left a step in the transaction. Will the person follow through and seek out your book online later? Print books can become promotional collateral with a high perceived value. And they increase the ease with which your intended audience can engage with them.
Of course, I’m not advocating you skip ebooks when you self-publish. Wherever you publish, ebooks are the best format through which to make your book accessible to a worldwide audience, and you should start with them.
Happy reading. Let us know of your latest books. I hope to read them in print.