When I’m not dazzling my trillions of loyal readers with spectacular insights and vitriol, I work in the production side of book publishing. Specifically, I work mainly on the manufacturing end of things: picking paper stock, applicable trim size, binding materials and cover treatments. It sounds a lot more exciting than it is, though I’ve been doing it for quite a while and I enjoy the work. However, I’m not stupid to the fact that the printed book is becoming more and more meaningless as time marches on. My skill set is quickly being relegated to the land of old timey jobs like being a blacksmith or beeper salesman.
Besides the fact that I will have to seek an entirely new kind of employment, I’m okay with the change from analog to digital books. It makes sense: for the consumer, for the authors, even for the publishers. It doesn’t make sense to the populated publicity and production departments that will have a lot less to do, but that’s the breaks. Being out of work will afford us more time to read the books we love so much. And at the standardized ten dollar price for most e-books, we’ll be able to afford them, too.
Whenever I tell someone that I work in book publishing, their reaction is sympathetic. “I like the tactile feel of books,” they say, and even pantomime opening a book and caressing its pages, as if anyone has ever really done that. They act like they’ve just seen my brand new baby, and upon discovering it’s ugly as sin decide to accentuate the positive. “Some books will never go electronic,” people assure me, “like children’s books. Who would ever give an e-reader to a child?” These little bastards already have DVD players and digital cameras, I’m positive there will be an infant-ready e-reader within the next couple of years. And you know what? I embrace the change.
I got into this business partially because I like books. More than books, I like reading, I like to encourage reading, I like that I’m doing something that foments more reading. I think that the internet has caused people to read more regularly than before, and I believe that e-books will increase that volume still. The Kindle doesn’t come with that musty library smell, but it’s still an impressive machine. I hope to get one myself someday, provided my change cup is full of bills and the wifi connection in the public park isn’t down.