Anyway, how you word things obviously matters or you wouldn’t write. And the words we choose shape our perceptions. If the written word didn’t matter, why would we fight so over holy books? And how many writers would want their words changed by an editor?
I’ve been sharing a lot of words about the whole self-publish or traditionally published debate. I rule out nothing for my future. Ruling out anything for the future would be foolish since we have no idea what the future will look like.
This discussion has brought my debating side. There are people I can never debate with. What is it about some people you can debate with and still be friends, and other people any disagreement is like a death? I don’t know. But this publishing debate has given me lots to think about.
I’m a romantic when it comes to books.
My grandmother lived across the street from a bowling alley. If you walked through the bowling alley’s parking lot to the main boulevard and dashed across, you would be at a strip mall complete with Publix, Duff’s Smorgasboard, and Daper Dan’s ice cream parlor. The shopping center also had a gift shop. The gift shop sold the usual trinkets, candles, wind chimes, and cards. They also had a corner of books.
I would get permission to walk over by myself and then sit on the floor in front of section of books and spend an unreasonable amount of time deciding which book to spend my few dollars on. I read the backs of many paperbacks, pick my favorites, and set them down on the floor. With books in a row on the floor, I sat cross-legged and stared at the covers. I loved this cover and that cover. Eventually, I had both books, and sometimes I would stop reading just to look at the cover.
And in 2000 my husband and I were in New Orleans. Across from our hotel was a used bookshop. It was dim, dusty, tiny bookshop. We spent an afternoon scanning the shelves. I was crawling on my knees, investigating piles and boxes of books. Going back to where I started to look over the shelves again in case I missed something. I’d pull books from underneath others to see what the book really was. After much inner turmoil I picked Salman Rushdie’s book on The Wizard of Oz. The man sitting on a stool at the counter said, “You love books.”
“Oh, I do.”
“I could tell by the way you kept looking over each shelf, really looking. You’ll love your books,” he said.
And then there came the day I found a book I’d been searching for for years. I found it in a used bookshop in Chapel Hill, and when I saw it, I squealed. I ran to my friend, jumped up and down and caused quite a few heads to turn. “OH MY GOD!! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!” After embarrassing my friend, I leapt to the counter and was still jumping up and down when I paid for it. I hugged the book to my chest. And I discovered it was signed.
If my apartment caught on fire right now and I could save only one book, this would be the one.
Physical books are artifacts. What will we leave behind in this digital age? What treasures will we find scrolling down a screen? I guess every generation has to moan the passing of what they know. My son has many books, but surely he will grow up more comfortable with e-books, but I don’t think I’m ever going to hug a Kindle.
But who knows?
When the world is digital, what will you miss?