The Author Produced Book


With he advent of self-publishing and the technology and platforms that have emerged to make this possible, we have already seen a massive number of new books coming directly from authors. They are publishing in digital format and using POD services to get their works into the marketplace. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple iBooks have been leaders in facilitating this movement.

But readers are finicky and I have already heard many complaints through online forums about the poor quality of many self-published books.

I believe we have seen an extreme swing from big publishing houses producing books to authors producing their own. In the future, I believe the middle ground will involve an emerging industry of small and independent publishers or technology specialists, who will aid authors in publishing their works.


Restoring intimacy with digital books


For me a fundamental problem with e-books is that the joy of owning a physical object – and more importantly, adding it to the bookshelf in your home – is absent. I don’t feel much of anything when I buy a new e-book. Instead, it seems like I’m just opting for convenience over pleasure.

Because of this marked absence, I believe that publishers in the future need to find ways to make digital book purchases more tangible. Perhaps readers could be given access to a well-designed card that they could print in color on sumptuous card stock and display on a bulletin board. Or, as 3D printers become common household appliances, perhaps publishers could enable readers to print a custom object or token from the world of the book to display at home, or keep on their desks at work. Imagine the digital version of The Lord of the Flies bundled with instructions to 3D print the  iconic conch shell.

For some of us, books are trophies – we’ve read them, mastered them, understood them and been moved by them. For others, books are milestones that irrevocably change the way we experience the world and understand our place in it. And for others, books are exquisite designed objects that lend our homes verve and gravitas, and that help us tell a story about ourselves to visitors. These simple physical objects, whether 2D or 3D, represent one potential way that we can celebrate the special relationships that we form with our books. They could help to restore  the intimacy that we miss as digital books continue to replace print in our literary lives.