I love paper. My heart beats faster when I walk past a stationery shop. I have a favourite notebook brand (Apica, a Japanese range of thin notebooks with paper which absorbs ink like no other). Every time I go to the US, I buy dozens of books. With their deckle edges and high-quality, acid-free paper, American editions are amongst the most attractive in the world and I like having them on my bookshelves.
But when it comes to reading, it is the text that matters to me most. Armies can’t stop an idea whose time has come, to loosely translate Victor Hugo, and reading digitally is what we do now. A beautiful hardback publication may be a writer’s dream-come-true, but without a simultaneous ebook release, their novel will be half-invisible. New readers read digitally. If you are talented and feel that the world of digital publishing stands for cheap, second-rate content, it is your responsibility to inject it with quality. You can’t stand back and say ‘it’s not for me’. You will be letting down a generation of readers and writing yourself out of history. Digital publishing needs you.
So, will I miss paper submissions? I doubt it. Words and ideas are what matters. I certainly won’t miss the paper cuts or DIY binding, and I will be particularly happy never to smell again the stale cigarette smoke trapped between the pages by a writer taking one last drag before sealing the envelope, however romantic the cliché.
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