Why Books and Printed Materials Will Never Go Away

Ladies and gentleman, it is the dawn of a new era. Technology is on the scene with guns blazing and is taking names. What does this mean for older traditions and methodology like books and magazines? Extinction! Disrepute! Annihilation! ALL THE ABOVE!

If you marked a, b, c, or d, you are…wrong! Trends, public scrutiny, and some experts have led the public to generally believe that the advent of the iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc. signal the demise of written civilization as we know it. Is it lamented? No.

However, it’s not true. Let me warn you before continuing on. I am one person with my own viewpoint in a world of billions of people. Trusted and established scholars and professionals in the literary world disagree as to what the future will hold for printed material, and unless I am hopelessly misinformed, no one can REALLY predict the future. The majority of those speaking out do seem to announce the extermination in the next quarter century; a half century at the latest. The arguments below mark my own sentiments and thoughts on the topic and maybe some quick research, reading, and personal experiences to supplement those feelings.

Listed here are not reasons that ensure the success and survival of printed material, but rather, they are strong points to note and consider.

1. People like books and printed material. There is nothing quite like opening up a new crisp book and ruffling through the pages. More importantly, I don’t think there is an application, as of yet, for e-books or downloaded material that gives it that new book smell of paper or that musky odor from those that have been repeatedly read over many years. Coffee spills destroy electronic devices, but for books, it adds a flare of character.

2. Books are more dependable than electronic devices. This is despite the fact that the production of books and printed materials largely comes from paper which is flammable and has many other ways to destroy. I can recall numerous ways that those same methods can destroy electronics as well; however, a book cannot malfunction or receive a virus (computer that is). A book does not need to be turned off at a plane’s take-off or depend upon electricity in the event of a power outage or worse, a zombie attack (just joking about the last one…I think).

3. Books cross all ages, generations, and boundaries. A big hoopla has been made about differences between generations and that quite possibly as we move into later generations less and less interest and demand will arise from consumers for actual print. However, speaking from my own experiences and my preferences, I would have to say that this conclusion is both rapid and inconclusive. The digital age and rise of electronics and the internet may require a rebalancing of the market in literature, but does not necessarily mean the destruction of it.

For example, young children enjoy viewing the iPad and television shows on those devices, but often take a greater liking and understanding of the large printed children’s books that are big, friendly, child-safe, and just better for hands-on interaction. Is the market changing? Admittedly, yes. There will and must be a redefinition of market-niches and categories to provide for new options available to consumers. To reiterate, redefinition does not equate to termination and the obsolete.

4. Writing, highlighting, and modifying books are a convenient task. This point coincides with the first, but deserves its own section due to how prevalent this issue is. Despite the limited space found in the margins, it is incredibly easy to accompany my book with a pen and scribble down little thoughts and underline passages of importance. These notes stay right where I wrote them next to the passage that induced the writing. Authors and readers stand strong by this convenience and tradition as a foundation to printed material. Furthermore, marking pages by indenting corner pages and adding sticky notes is another great feature and all of these modifications and markings are easily identifiable to the reader and their copy of a book or other printed material.

These are most likely just a few points of many explaining the benefits and features of printed material and books. It should also be noted that printing is a fairly modern and new technology. By that I intend to refer to Gutenberg, the printing press, and modern forms of development and binding. Books have not and will not overstay their welcome or become obsolete in concerns to their benefits and purpose for society, consumers, and the literary world.

This does not, however, reflect other various circumstances and aspects of the literary world that directly affect the distribution and creation of current printed works. For instance, paper is a finite resource in a sense due to its demand and consumption. Others have also reflected on how mass corporations and entities have a larger influence on the literary world and are pushing out smaller publishing houses. Numerous objections have arisen to describe how printed material will soon become obsolete, listing various reasons, but few incorporate advantages of electronic material over that of printed nor do they admit to the strengths of books and printed materials. I do not deny how astounding and miraculous it is to contain a library of books in one device and have also noted price differences between downloaded material versus the physical form.

However, at this point in time it seems that preference defines the market and not an obvious decline and stagnation of printed material sales. Until a new technology comes out that can convince me otherwise, I still enjoy cozying up to a book on a cold snowy day and continuing to see those coffee stains!

Two Reasons Digital Readers Are Better Than Traditional Books

As someone who loves to read, this is a question that has come up for me in the past. Are digital books really the wave of the future, or are they just another passing fad? Books in their current form have been around for hundreds of years and seem to work pretty darn well. Are digital technologies like the Kindle and Apple’s iPad really going to supplant paper books as the preferred reading method for most people?

Here are a couple of my impressions about the advantages that digital readers have over traditional books after reading regular books for decades and digital books on my Kindle for about a year:

1. Digital Books can be Free

This was one of the main reasons I bought a Kindle about a year ago. I love reading the classics, and these books are largely in the public domain. When you buy an old book, Moby Dick for example, what you are really paying for is the service of having that book printed up in a readable format for you. If you have a digital book reader, you don’t need that service anymore.

2. Highlighting and Note Taking

When I read, I like to mark up my books. This means I’ll underline, highlight, take notes in the margins, and bookmark pages. Digital book readers let you do this too, but I think there is a distinct advantage for them here. When I have highlighted dozens of passages in a book, I can usually find them in a snap on my digital reader. With a regular book, I have to waste several minutes flipping through the pages one by one until I find the underlined passage I am looking for. You can also export all these highlighted passages to your computer in a text file. This is invaluable for quoting large passages.

So there you have it. I’m not saying that digital book readers are better in every way, but those are two distinct advantages that I have found.

Public Speaking – Electronic Media Kits For Authors

Your book is sizzling! You just lost 25 pounds to get ready for your speaking tour. You have a great press kit, which is printed on the finest linen stock and enclosed in the most expensive shiny black presentation folder with a screen print of your book cover on the front.

Then, why aren’t all those prospective target audiences you have contacted getting back to you with public speaking engagements about your sizzling book? Well, there may be a simple answer. Many prospective audiences and professional firms, as well, are receiving booking requests and public speaking promotional materials via internet press releases as standard procedure these days. As a result, many people who frequently need to distribute press kits are now delivering them as digital or online press releases and packets, transported over the internet to target audiences to save time and create a less intrusive method of filing and updating.

Digital and online press packets and media kits do not make their hardcopy counterparts obsolete. I advise that a hardcopy always be available to hand out at public speaking events and other functions if requested. However, somewhere in your presentation materials, you should refer to the availability of a digital version of your media kit. The digital version can be stored as a page on your website for convenient download or printing, saving you the cost of postage, photographic reproduction, photocopying, printing, paper, ink and presentation folders.

  • You don’t have a website?
  • As an author and a professional practicing today, you should!

There is no need to go out and buy an expensive complicated publishing or design program to create your online media package. Unless you already know how to use design and publishing software, it can be frustrating and time-consuming, delaying any chance that you will have your digital press packet prepared in a timely fashion. Also, it can be quite expensive to hire someone to do the job for you. I suggest using a simple word processing software like MS WORD, which will give you all the flexibility and simplicity you need to create an attractive and effective digital media kit.

The best thing about MS WORD is you probably already know how to use it. Open a new document and type in your letterhead, which will consist of your name or the title of your book or both, plus your contact information. Not too fussy, though, meaning too many colors and fancy fonts. Keep it simple and elegant. Save a blank copy of the letterhead so you can cut and paste new material into it to update your kit.

I approach digital media kits the same way I approach traditional hardcopy media kits. They should contain your biographical sketch, a press release, recent event poster and contact information. Be sure to use an image of your book cover to promote yourself as a published author, which will increase your attractiveness to a wide array of target audiences. Include a headshot of yourself and photograph of you before an audience if you have one.

You may start the body of your press kit with a brief biographical sketch and a list of your speaking topics. Remember, your speaking engagement should be more than a reading from your book. Your speaking topics may be drawn from themes covered in your book. In this section, include a hyperlink to your website or to specific pages in your website where an online press release and more detailed information can be found about you, your book and the services you offer. Consult Free Publicity for Your Book for additional ideas.

Additional hyperlinks may point to video presentations on your website of you in action on the stage. It may be useful to include hyperlinks to news coverage about you or excerpts of your TV appearances. On a separate page in your media package, include a digital copy of at least one newspaper article that covers you and your book. When you have finished creating the files for your internet media kit, save them. Then place those designed materials into a PDF (portable document file) to lock the files in place and prevent changes. PDF files are very common and most users are able to open them easily.

I suggest that you restrict the media kit to a couple of pages so that you will not have to zip it. Unfortunately, some users do not have or know how to use unzip programs, making your press materials inconvenient to access for some and not accessible to others. Once the PDF file is created, you can attach it to messages to email recipients and store a copy on a page of your website. If you do not know how to create a PDF file, simply attach your MS WORD electronic media kit to an email and write the recipient a personalized message.

Remember, though, a regular MS WORD file is not locked and may be changed. Because users fear contracting a virus, they do not indiscriminately open attachments from strangers. So, be sure to let your recipients know you are sending an attachment or you may risk having your carefully crafted public speaking promotional materials cybertrashed.