The brave new world of books

by Rebecca Bricker on February 6, 2012

When the first copies of Tales from Tavanti arrived, I had that dream-come-true moment that author’s relish as I tore open the box. I immortalized that moment with a photo. (Yes, those are my painted “California toes,” admired by the Casanova of Florence in Chapter 2.) 😉

I didn’t feel the same thrill when I first saw my book on Kindle. In fact, I was a bit disappointed. I had worked for four months with CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing division, attending to the minute details of book design: choosing fonts and fleurons (those decorative elements that fill in text breaks) and deciding on chapter headers and where to place page numbers. I nearly went cross-eyed looking for bad word splits at the end of each line. I e-mailed the designers, asking them to re-format one particular paragraph so that “Michelangelo” wouldn’t be hyphenated. I’m sure they collectively rolled their eyes.

C’mon, be serious…you cannot hyphenate Michelangelo. (Mamma mia!)

In the Kindle version, the font is different – not as elegant. There are no headers and page numbers. That lovely cover (that took more than a month to design) looks pitifully bland in gray-and-white. And depending on the type size you dial in, there’s a chance Michelangelo might be hyphenated – HEAVEN FORFEND.

Soon e-books will be packed with video and interactive features that are going to razzle and dazzle us. With digital technology upending conventional publishing methods and book formats, it’s an exciting time to be an author and a reader. I’m glad I experienced the Old World art of producing a book and had the thrill of opening that box of author copies. But I’m also looking forward to the changes that are coming – it would be kind of cool to have an electronic travel guide with built-in GPS.

At the kind invitation of friend and fellow memoir writer Kathy Pooler, I’ve written a guest post about my self-publishing experience on her blog Memoir Writer’s Journey, where there promises to be an interesting discussion about the growing entrepreneurial role of authors. Come by for a visit as writers talk about the revolution that’s changing the world of books.

And check this out…my map of Florence with its broken compass >>>>>>

So Old World.

{ 7 comments }

Kathleen Pooler February 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

Rebecca, Your “lived experience” with self-publishing is so valuable for writers/authors on the fence about which option to choose. Thank you for sharing. I am looking forward to a lively discussion on the matter between California and New York and any other places in between and from afar!

Rebecca Bricker February 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I’m enjoying the conversation on your site about the self-publishing scene. Glad to share my experiences.

Sarah McKee February 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I still can’t get over how splendidly economical your writing is! Of course, I relish what you write ABOUT. But how you do it grabs me every time.

Rebecca Bricker February 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Thank you, Sally! My economy is a by-product of my journalism training. My first job out of J-school was for a D.C. newsletter publisher whose in-house motto was: ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS WE PRINT. 😉

Thom February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Enjoyed another entry, thanks very much. As both a Kindle/e-book reader and a bound-paper reader, and even as I enjoy both; give me the book in the hand – it is worth far more than the two in the digital bush. There is a warmth and smell and intimacy that LED will never duplicate. Also, I can provide the voices and the setting – I am afraid the electronic age will try to rob me of that. So, I guess you can say I am Old World as well … or maybe just old.
I look forward to reading you, electronically or on paper, for a long time. :)

Rebecca Bricker February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Ah, thanks Thom! … I’m with you about a book in hand. There’s something about the feel of turning a page.

Pat February 13, 2012 at 3:48 am

Oh Rebecca…how true. There is something so comforting and Old World ly about holding a book in hand and turning the pages. The whole entrepreneurial thing about book publishing and marketing, terrifies me, so glad you are out in front and courageously leading the way!

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