The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Continuing Viability of the Book

One of the questions I get when people find out I'm independently publishing is "Sure? On Kindle, right? Or Nook?" (The more informed might add Smashwords, but nobody has, in fact). "But not a book book, right"


Phineas at Bay will be available in a paper book format thanks to the wonderfully helpful people at CreateSpace (seriously, even when I cause the problems, they're very good at straightening them out). And I wouldn't have it any other way. (Oh, well, I'll admit it; I wouldn't turn down a deluxe hardcover edition if the Trollope Society wanted to add to their publications list.) But, yes, I wanted Phineas to return to the world in his proper setting: a proper book.

And not just because it was Phineas, and a Trollope sequel, and set in the Nineteenth Century. No, it's because I believe that what Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) so perfectly articulates to Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) is true of me and many other readers:
Jenny Calendar: Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Jenny Calendar: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a-a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly.
Not that I don't enjoy my Kindle, and my Kindle app on my iPad; I do. Stuck in jury duty, and realizing the theological book I wanted to immerse myself in at long last is just too heavy going thanks to the ambient noise? No problem; conjure up the complete works of Conan Doyle, and immerse myself in Sherlock Holmes's gaslit London. Or want to read a new novel, but not sure I can use precious shelf-space for it? Ah, there it is.

When I did my Clinical Pastoral Education at New York Presbyterian, I met more than one patient, bored to tears, who just didn't realize that by installing a Kindle App on their iPad or even their phone they could instantly gain access to a world of books to make their time pass with some enjoyment. I swear to you, on at least two occasions, installing that free app was the greatest service I could have done.

So technology, as Buffy might say, "is of the good." and there are Jenny Calendars in the world, for whom the experience of accessing "texts" on a computer is superior to a book. I'm not one, but so what? Takes all types to make a world.

But count me in with Rupert.

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