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Sunday, April 21, 2013

'What is a book?'

"Ah, stupid question, but what is a book?" "Novel" episode #8, Stella

I used to love the feel of a book in my hand. The reading of words and the feel of the paper between my fingers was a meditative experience for me.

I suspect many writers still feel that way. Well, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I now feel that same sensuality when pushing the tiny button on my Kindle Fire and then seeing my entire library of books, music, and audiobooks explode on the screen. After a hard day of work, I love nothing more than to get on the quiet car on the train and read by the light of my Kindle Fire.

So what is a book? I'm willing to concede that a book is a paper medium with its own formatting conventions.

On the other hand, digital "books" require different layouts, fonts, functionality, interactivity, and even paragraphing to fit the technology, whether on a larger Kindle-type screen or a smaller iPhone app. We've been calling them "e-books" for lack of a better term, but maybe they deserve their own name. Got any ideas??

Bottom line, writers must broaden their perspective of what a book really is.

I've surprised myself at how willing I've been to throw paper books under the bus, but I have to admit, there are times when I crave the feel of a book on my lap, in my hands, between my fingers. It's a mood thing. Sometimes I'll even get out my yellow highlighter pen for old times sake and highlight key passages. But you know, on my Kindle Fire, I can do the same thing and I don't even need a highlighter pen. 

What are your feelings about books vs. digital? Are you thinking about using different mediums for your writing projects? This is a great time to be a reader because you can pick and choose how you want to read "books." And after all, as writers, our purpose is to serve our readers.

Donna Marie

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