Physical Books are Eternal

Wired Differently is a collaboration between Todd Saylor and Mark Graham Communications.

There’s no doubt that e-books have changed the publishing landscape. No longer limited to carrying around physical books, today’s readers can reach for their reading device – tablet, phone, Kindle, Nook, or otherwise – upon which hundreds of books can be stored, then opened and read with a few finger swipes.

For many people, the advent of the e-book has changed their reading habits. The accessibility and portability of e-books (not to mention audiobooks) has transformed some previous non-readers into readers, while also increasing the number of books already-avid readers consume each year. Factor in the pandemic, which has restricted browsing in physical bookstores and libraries, and it seems unlikely that anyone would ever again choose to read a physical book.

And yet, print book sales continue to hold steady – and even, according to some reports, increase. Publisher’s Weekly reported a 7.9% increase, year over year, in print book sales for the same weeks in October 2020 vs. October 2019. The largest increase was in the adult nonfiction category.[i]

Why is that? Why are readers still drawn to physical books?

The reason is simple: for many people, reading is not only a cerebral activity, it’s also a sensory one. There’s something about holding a physical book in your hands – the feel of a smooth, glossy cover, the look of well-designed inner pages, the scent of ink on paper – that appeals to many readers.

Moreover, physical books simply last. How many of us pluck beloved books off our shelves to read and re-read? How often do readers reach for a favorite book to find a familiar and inspirational quote, something to get them through a difficult day? How many have encountered a treasured book from years past, perhaps signed by the author, discovered like a jewel among a long-gone relative’s possessions or buried on a shelf in a secondhand shop?

We’re fortunate, in this day and age, to have the best of both worlds. For the self-published author, getting your e-book onto sites like Amazon is a straightforward process. Further, recording an audiobook is a goal within reach of many authors, including self-published authors. At the same time, on-demand printing makes it simple for authors to provide buyers with physical copies of books, without the hassle of managing and maintaining a physical inventory of one’s books.

As authors – whether we write our books ourselves or choose to work with a ghostwriter – as we work on the book, we anticipate to the moment when our words are released to the world. And, while we feel something magical when we see links for our e-book online, that feeling fades in comparison to the glorious day when the first physical book – with our name on the cover – is in our hands.

Your book is personal. It’s yours; only you can tell your story. Imagine the feeling when you actually hold your story – in the form of a beautiful, physical book – in your own hands.