I started a new book the other day, The Zodiac Legacy by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong. I like it fine so far, but have found myself drawn to it with a need to pick it up and just feel it in my hands.
It’s a thick, trade market-sized paperback and I bought it new. It just feels so good. Concrete. Solid. My rather disturbing fetish for the physicality of this particular book got me thinking. First, I’m wondering if they, like, coated the cover with some sort of opiate you absorb through your pores. But second, how much less I would enjoy this book on a Kindle or other e-Reader.
I don’t for this post to be a book review on this one title, because my revelations herein are more global in scale. However, this is the book I’m reading right now. As you might guess from the name of one of the authors (Stan Lee), there is a lot of art in the book–pages and pages of beautiful, comic book-style art interspersed between the pages of text. I don’t think the art would have as great an impact on me were I seeing it on a screen.
Having a book in my hands is a freeing experience. It signifies I’m about to set off on an adventure, journey to another land or another time or another world. Sitting down with a device does none of that, because it could just as well mean I’m about to read an email or pay my bills online. Not quite as freeing.
When I started writing and selling short stories, I sold them wherever I could find them a home. This included a number of online publications, some of whom pay just as much or more as print publications. But it was never as satisfying as when I’d sell to a print anthology. The story felt temporary online. I’d link to it, read it, then the page gathers electrical dust on some long-forgotten server in the bowels of some long-forgotten server farm. An anthology exists in a state of permanence. It’s on my shelf. I can point to it. Take it down. Open it up. So now I only submit to print publications. And every time one of those anthologies shows up in my mail box, I relish ripping the collection out of the package and feeling the weight in my hands, smelling that wonderful New Book Smell, seeing my story right there on the page.
A couple of months ago, I got the ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) of Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom (have you pre-ordered your copy yet?) and my heart did backflips while wearing those freaky leg-extenders the Cirque Du Soleil guys were wearing on The Wiz. Glorious paperback copies of my book, with my name right there on the cover. For the first time, it hit home. This was happening. My book was being published. I had the proof in my hands.
I don’t own a Nook or a Kindle or anything like that. I don’t tend to read books on my iPhone or computer. Reading a book is an escape. An escape from technology, an escape from the pressures of the day, an escape from the everyday stress of life. I want to hold it in my hands, feel the pages beneath my fingers.
I’m weird that way.