Monday, February 28, 2011

The Virtues of Virtual Publishing

Since I have decided to publish my books digitally, I have come to realize that there are many virtues to utilizing that form of presenting my work to the reading public.  Still, there is the other type of hybrid virtual publishing called Print-on-Demand, or POD. But after much pondering, and considerable consideration over whether or not to self-publish through publishing websites such as lulu or CreateSpace, which print copies of an author’s books as they are ordered, I have decided to wait on that decision. 

In the meantime, I am hovering on the notion that there is a benefit to digital publishing, not only for me, but for the environment as well.  While driving in my gas-guzzling SUV, I was thinking that I should get a smaller car and do my part to help the environment.  Then, I drove through a stand of trees that waved to me as I whizzed by and I realized that I already was doing my part, if only partly.  It was as if they were saying “Thank you, Brianna, for not killing our relatives by publishing your books on paper”.  I waved back (mentally because I didn’t want the other drivers to suspect that I had a mental problem) and I slowed down my vehicle a bit while all sorts of thoughts raced through my mind.

Yes, I was saving a few trees by using the digital method of publishing.  But then, I realized that other aspects of paper publishing were bad for the environment.  Gasoline was also a commodity that is used, albeit after the tree-killer books are published.  Lots of gas is wasted in transporting books to the brick and mortar stores.  Not to mention the gas that readers use to visit those stationary stores in the hope of finding a book that might not be on the shelves after all.

Electricity, too, is utilized when books are sold the old-fashioned way.  Lights illuminating those books in those archaic architectural edifices are constantly straining to focus upon the wares of the retailers.  Heating in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer to make buyers comfortable in their browsing experience are definitely delivery systems that devour electricity.  And then there is the eternal circuit of wall outlets for those plug-in devices such as computers and registers.

And I won’t even mention the publishing houses’ use of electricity to print those books.  I shudder at the thought, so I’ll take a deep breath and change the subject—a little.

Each coin, we know, has two sides:  Heads or Tails, Pros and Cons, your opinion and mine.  The other side of my coin and an argument that I often have with myself is that I love the smell of books and I’m sure other readers do as well.  Thankfully, there is a solution.  Lulu, CreateSpace and others offer print-on-demand, where books can be printed as they are ordered.  In this way, no books will sit around on shelves all over the world waiting for someone to buy them.  No books will be tossed into the bargain bin where they will collect dust while waiting for someone to buy them.  No books will be taking up space in someone’s attic, collecting paper-eating insects, waiting for someone to read them until they are tossed into a “box of books for a dollar”, a common form of yard sale fodder, waiting for someone to buy them.  Another deep breath…

It seems to me that paper books do a lot of waiting.  Meanwhile, trees are dying to be turned into paper books that are consistently waiting to be read.  At least with digital and POD, books that are waiting to be read are flying around in virtual bookstores that don’t use electricity, well except to keep those database computers running.  I am still deciding whether or not to submit my books to a print-on-demand publisher.  For now, I think I’ll just put them on sale in honor of Arbor Day and (mentally) tell the trees that I pass every day in my soon-to-be hybrid car, “You’re welcome!”


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