Who’s seen the movie The Jerk? Every time I hold a print copy of one of my books for the first time, I picture The Jerk’s main character, Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin), yelling, “The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!”
Navin is beside himself because he feels like he’s finally a somebody since his name is in print, in the phone book. Seeing my name on the cover of a new book for the first time isn’t what makes me feel like a somebody, that comes from looking up and in, but seeing my name on the cover of a book that I’ve written is affirmation that I’m a writer. For years I wrote, but never called myself a writer. Now I do; it says so on the cover of my books for goodness sake.
I’m so grateful for ebooks; I sell a lot more of them than print books. But there is just something about holding a bunch of pages with words I’ve written on them, sandwiched between a pretty front and back cover, and feeling the actual weight of the book in my hand. It gives me a sense of completion. Each book represents many hours of time, heart, mind, and years of dreams.
I think there will probably be a day when new books are no longer sold in print, but it may be long after I’ve written my last story. I’m kinda sad for writers of the far-off future who may never hold more than a piece of plastic with a screen that represents the time and energy it took for them to write tens of thousands of words.
But today I get to hold by books in my hand and yell, “My new paperbacks are here! My new paperbacks are here!”