NPR had a discussion on the Morning Report on November 6, 2012 about how Random House and Penguin are possibly merging due to the rather negative impact that digital publications are having on physical books. That is, except coffee table books and art books. These are generally large, trophy books. They tend to be expensive, but they continue to sell well. Why? Because they are extraordinary books and usually collectible.
The average person now expects a book to be more than a book. They want it to be a completely rounded work of art in every way. As a poet, I tried to take a lesson from that years ago when I read a blog (Well-Read Life) which argued for writing in and annotating your books, because doing so will make them heritage items, something people want to save because of the personal mark you made in them.
That is why I demand to maintain full control of my books, including inside and cover images. Even though, so far, this has meant that I have to publish independently. Because now - more than ever before in history - every aspect of the finished product is important. It is not just about the words anymore. It is about multi-media and presentation. Without these, your book will never even be seen, let alone read.
These days, authors have to be more than wordsmiths. We have to be complete artists and obsessive about the whole package. It takes an industriousness and determination that may be completely unknown to past generations of authors. Also, when a reader buys a copy of my book from eBay, not only do I sign it, but I try to include a note specific to that copy and date my signature. We must make our books unique to sell them, we must write better and stronger than ever before, we must be creative in multiple ways.
The book will survive, just as the radio has survived television, and both of those have survived the internet. The question is: will it be your book? The answer depends much on the effort you are willing to put into your work.
~ written by Sabne Raznik