The Printed Word

I realised that for a long time I’ve had a desire to see something I’d written in print. Not actually published, but just printed properly in an actual book. Just for me. I don’t know if it’s so I can have a tangible, reasonable looking object that I can say, ‘I made that’, or so I can see what it might look like, or because it would be easier to read as well as giving a different reading experience. . . It sure isn’t easy dealing with a sheaf of loose A4 printed pages, and I don’t like reading large amounts on a computer screen.

Whatever it is, the other day I decided to have a go. I’d heard of a place that do print-on-demand, ebooks, and that sort of thing, and that their prices were reasonable for small runs as well as larger. I checked them out, compared, read reviews. . . they seemed good. I formatted my work following their guidelines— And stopped.

Then, while I was dithering about whether or not I should do this, I got an email with an offer for 20% off! I’d already mostly decided to go ahead, but there was my shove right there. So I uploaded the text, spent a while with their cover design, and sent off the order. I just did a standard book: A5, softback, with a plain cover.

The thing is, I couldn’t help thinking even as I was putting all the specifics in, wouldn’t it be great to have it with a hardcover. . . A front cover with a picture like this. . . Have ink-style sketches for inside. . .

I hadn’t really thought much about the possible appearance of the book before. But this was only a sample, and besides, I don’t know that any of that would actually make it better. Surely the story’s the main thing? The trouble is I love books for themselves. When I was a child I was given a series of books, each one with a velvety hardcover of jewel-bright colour – purple or red or green, with the title embossed in shiny silver. . . So gorgeous! Then there’s proper old books with the plain covers and maybe marbled pages on the inside. Modern covers that are simple with only a couple of colours, or illustrated, have a bit of glitter on, or a copy of a painting, or a plain colour with a single image that reflects the story. To see a series sat on a shelf, all the same size and style. . . Not that that happens so often anymore because they switch styles and sizes all over the place, which is a bit irritating for someone like me, but I’m getting off the point.

The point is, for me and if there’s anyone vaguely like me, holding a book is part of the experience of reading, and to have a professionally printed and put-together book that you yourself have written. . . It’s an amazing prospect! Now I just have to wait for it to arrive and not allow my anticipation to go crazy or there’s a fair chance I won’t be anything but disappointed. 1-3 days before it arrives. Once it’s been printed. . .

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