At Write My Memoirs, we help people publish their autobiographies in the format of the traditional book. Our standard book is a 5.5 x 8.5 paperback, typically with a photograph on the cover. In 2011, our authors still want a hard copy of their hard work, and their families appreciate being able to hold and read a real book about that person’s life. Will that be true five or ten years from now?
In today’s piece lamenting the demise of Borders bookstores, Chicago Tribune columnist John Keilman makes his case for why a bookstore chain may be closing but books themselves will survive. He cites all the reasons you’ve heard before about book lovers enjoying the feel, sight and smell of a book. He mentions theories about cognition that have to do with the way a traditional book is laid out. And I have to say that I disagree with all of it.
I think that ordinary people who write their memoirs will still want to publish hard copies. But new generations growing up in a digital world will have their cognitive responses shaped by digital stimuli. They won’t miss the smell of a new book anymore than the rest of us miss the aroma of fresh sheets drying in the breeze on the clothesline. Devices like the Kindle will improve in just the ways book lovers need them to and, while old books and personal memoirs may still be cherished in hard copy format, I believe that the vast majority of books will be read digitally. What do you think?