| Great StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 14, Issue 2 – 15 February 2018
Thank you all your positive and constructive response to our last newsletter. I am sorry I didn’t reply to some of your messages. I only saw them now because they were sent to an email that I hardly check. If you want to contact me, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have happy news – I have two works being published. A short story, ‘Legend of Nagakanna’, has been accepted in an anthology called ‘We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture’ which will be published by the School of Advanced Studies, University of London in 2018. Then, I have a collection of stories called ‘Two Snakes Whistling at the Same Time’ which will be published by MPH Publishers. More details on these publications as I receive them.
The thing is, ‘Legend of Nagakanna’ is a chapter in my yet unpublished novel. After many years of wondering, conjecturing and hoping (i.e. wasting time), I am considering taking that step to have it self-published. Rohi, of course, believes that it should be only in eBook form. I like physical books. These differences are what we’ve decided to write about in our pieces today. Do not hesitate to add your comments – I’ve provided links to the webpages where the stories appear for you to enter your comments in the ‘Comments’ Box. All else failing, send me an email at email@example.com
With the advent of Industry 4.0, there are no limits to the options available for consumers. Is this a good thing, though? Especially for writers and readers? Is there still a need for books, journals, newspapers and magazines? The stories below show that we still need physical reading material to make life worth living.
Disaster, luxury and skills
I am glad I didn’t listen to her. Instead, I bought more scrapbooks and kept physical copies of every single one of the 280-odd articles that were published. You see, in less than three months after the first scrapbook was full of my articles, the newspapers changed the design of their website. All the links to the stories I wrote for the papers were gone. If I had kept only the digital links, it would be as though I never wrote for the papers at all.
My desire to read things in print was reinforced when, last year, I bought a copy of the New Yorker. In it, there’s a story by Hanna Beech about Aung Sun Suu Kyi called ‘The Shame of Myanmar’s Heroine’. It was such luxury to read this article over a cup of coffee. I enjoyed the writing and learnt something new. Later, during a discussion with a friend, I encouraged her to buy a copy of the magazine. I wanted her to read how Aung San Suu Kyi stayed true to the principles of non-violence. From memory, I said, “Look at page 29 in the first column.”
Later, it occurred to me that had I sent the online link, I couldn’t have told her exactly where to look. I would probably have said something simple like, “Scroll down the page.”
Here’s what I know – when I read stuff on paper, I read slowly. There is a method to my reading which I cannot put into words. But I retain the information better and I am sure that there is some scientific explanation for it. Perhaps, the words I’m looking for are best enunciated by Amata Luphaiboon, an architect in Thailand. He says, “Websites don’t provide the depth that books can. With the printed product, you can compare plans and look at the actual built project on the page. I don’t think web readers can develop their analytical skills in architecture as well as those who read actual books.” 1
It’s in the word
Would you say the same of a tablet? Be honest. Have you ever run your fingers across the cover design of the novels you’ve read on a computer screen? Would you ever smell the screen to inhale the smell of a page? Chances are if you can smell something off a screen, it’s just plain filthy.
More than physical
Indeed, this seems to apply to newspapers as well. The national newspapers here in Malaysia recently underwent a restructuring exercise and states that, “The other initiative is the creation of new content verticals, a merger of editorial content teams with digital product development and brand management, with education and lifestyle verticals becoming the first to be established. These content verticals are introduced to meet the new business landscape, offering new value added alternatives and customer centric approach.” 2
I don’t understand what these terms mean. And when I look them up, I see that they have to do with businesses wanting to cater to the millennials. I close the webpage to do some soul searching.
First, since the beginning of the year, the number of pages in this national newspaper has reduced drastically. In fact, the weekend papers now don’t have a full page of comics. Instead, they publish articles about food and chefs to holidays in exotic locations that most Malaysians can’t afford. What is even more shocking is that the price of the paper has remained constant. Although I am still ordering the print edition, I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth the money.
Second, I am no millennial and I’ve reached the stage where I want to enjoy a story. Not read it because the source I’m reading from is the first to report it. I don’t care if someone is writing the story years after the event; if it’s well-written, I will still enjoy it.
Perhaps, what I should do is follow the example of Amata Luphaiboon and subscribe to only three magazines. This is because I still love the feelings and experiences that come with reading a print newspaper or book.
And there it is, it all boils down to ‘feelings’. I can never forget the feel of the hard cover copy of ‘Joseph Anton’. Or the yellow pages of ‘The Long Pilgrim’. Then there’s the leather-bound copy of the Holy Bible with wafer-thin, gold tipped pages. There are torn copies of Amar Chitra Katha which I glued to keep from falling apart. I wrote my name on the cover of some of them and it was the first time I was using long hand.
So, yes, I feel that when it comes time to publish my next book, I will choose to print a proper book. I may choose an eBook, but this will be in addition to the actual book.
I would love to know your thoughts on this subject matter. Please join the conversation below.
A few years ago, I wanted to read Illusions by Richard Bach. Much to my disappointment, the book was not available in any of the local bookstores. It took me hours to visit every bookstore in town and then browse the entire store in a vain attempt to find the book. Finally, I borrowed it from my friend who had bought a used copy from a pavement seller.
Today if I want to read Illusions, all I have to do is to go online, search for the Kindle book in Amazon and buy it with just a few clicks. I can download it and start reading the book within a few minutes.
So, though I still enjoy reading print books, I prefer to read e-books. E-books have many advantages over print books, both as a reader and as a digital publisher.
A. Here are some ways e-books score over printed books for readers:
B. Here are some ways e-books score over print books for writers and digital publishers:
In addition to the benefits for readers listed above, publication of e-books provides the following fantastic benefits to writers and creative entrepreneurs:
The debate of print books versus digital books is likely to continue for a long time. Personally speaking, the only reason why I would prefer to read a print book is if the e-book version is not available! However, as far as publication is concerned, I plan to publish my books not only as e-books but also as print books and audiobooks.
Join the conversation:
How do you prefer to read books? And more importantly, do you plan to publish your books solely as e-books or as print books as well?
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