Is the physical book on the way out to be replaced solely by the ebook? I don’t think so but what I do think is that ebooks have changed the nature of physical book publishing for the better.
Customers can now search on their kindle, press buy and, hey presto, in just a few seconds the book they want to read is in their hands. So where does that leave the physical book? We say in a much better place. “What!” you exclaim. “How can you say that?”
Well, we can because we are not just a small press publisher, we also absolutely love books, and we aim to produce books that people want to hold and take home with them.
In our local town there is a rare book store that sells some books costing $1000 and more – and they sell! Why? Because they are beautiful and that makes them collectable.
The ebook market in our view is putting pressure on publishers to produce collectible books once again. To compete with an ebook you have to produce an item that someone wants to possess. One of our books, Watchers (Book One in the Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys series) was produced in paperback format with that in mind. The book has illustrations and the cover and spine were designed to really encourage readers to see it as special. And guess what, it works!
One regular bookshop sold as many in one weekend as they normally sell in an entire three month season of the current trending bestseller. They were amazed and said it had to be down to how customers were reacting to the look and feel of Watchers.
Once they see the book, physical bookshops have no problem at all with stocking and selling physical copies of Watchers. In fact the rare bookshop, which only deals with physical books, expressly requested copies of Watchers as the owner said and I quote:
“People love to touch, hold and own beautiful books. We sell old books that have got that whole look and feel spot on, but when we see a modern book with the same appeal then we stock it, as sadly many of the current books are just plain bland.”
So physical books still sell, but they have to look and feel good and in our eyes that is no bad thing. Maybe in the future all the commercial easy read and throwaway blockbusters will be on kindle, but there will always be a place for the book you want to keep and display on your shelf and from our experience that book has to look and feel good.
Take a look at the worldwidebookshop.com to see some of the beautiful collectable books they stock. Not quite the same as being in the shop and being able to pick them up and feel them though! An example below is of the beautiful Arthur Ransome complete set of Swallows and Amazons – with original illustrated endpapers and original illustrated dustjackets. To hold and thumb through these books is a precious experience.