Welcome to the Royle Line.
I thought about books today. We were at a local bookstore, which seems to be a difficult set of words to find close together these days.
There was a book that I was interested in. My wife found one she wanted too.
I took a pretty picture with my pretty camera and then I looked up the books online. They were both on the Libby library app. We checked the books out and have them on our Kindles.
What would have been a $60 experience ended up being, well, free.
And while I am excited for the idea of literacy so easily acquired, part of me weeps for the Russian author I missed payment to, one who claims her novel to be her last. Part of me hates to leave behind a National Book Award finalist who has a very large portrait of her beautiful high-cheekboned face on the end flap.
But, curiously, I didn’t. I simply left behind their product.
Still it’s any wonder how writers make bread these days. Coca-Cola goes after the hard drinkers. And sure, authors, once they have a following, go deeper into themselves and really pull out the weird stuff.
“‘Scuse me while I whip this out.”
Those loyal readers will arrive on the day that it is out, and will have the book pre-ordered, and will be almost insulted when the checkout employee is unaware that Thomas Pynchon is a literary genius.
There are hundreds of thousands of books published in a year. No one keeps track.
Solemnly we know that there was really no other method for keeping track of books than to leave them on shelves…in warehouses…for what feels like miles, and let the online database do the selling.
We create text every day. It almost seems silly now to package it up, bind it together, and sell it with pretty pictures on the front. Haven’t you heard of Insta?
Sure you can claim there’s something atavistic and romantic about seeing your name on a book.
Not like there’s this binary that has to exist between digital things and analog things. Why not give that “things” subject a “yes”?
Better to write the book that needs to be printed in a way only print can do. Lean into the medium.