There are differing opinions, today, to what exactly constitutes a book. The digital world seems to be throwing people for a loop by asking them to understand what constitutes an ebook, a digital copy of a book, and print-on-demand. Is it a book, or not? folks wonder.
The descriptions and labels placed on written works today, describing what constitutes a book, vary by writer, it seems. Or, by publication. This is not 1950, when a book was something you held in your hands, it had umph, it was solid, it weighed something (both physically and mentally).
This is 2017, and a book can be so many things today that it may challenge the brain to understand them all.
Books, Books, and Ebooks: The Where and Why for of Books
- a pamphlet about local businesses, left on your doorstep?
- a document in PDF format – 8 pages long?
- a collection of blog posts?
- a memoir by someone you’ve never heard of?
- a bound document about one’s health, full of cartoon drawings?
- a collection of stories written by a dozen different people, about the same topic?
- an digital document created with a front cover, inside content, and back cover?
Most of us would agree that the first example and the third example are not, by definition, books. The others, indeed, are books or can be considered books. The PDF is a book if the author designates it as such. He or she may merely call it a document, as it is. But, if intended to perform some duty beyond just ‘article’ sharing, the PDF could, indeed, become an e-book.
An e-book, of course, is merely a digital document created in book format, to share information. Most e-books are created by professionals as lead-generation tools. In other words, the book serves to help the author build a larger list, which he or she will then market his or her services to.
You could also argue that blog posts collected into book format (front cover, inside content, back cover) could be considered a book. Truth is, some popular people are using their blog to actively write their books. Once complete, they use the engagement from comments, to make a better version of the book, and turn out a published copy that is similar but not exactly like the blog posts used to create it. Personally, I think that is genius.
A Fine Line Between a Book and Not a Book
I’ll share a bit of advice here, from George Kittredge, the marketing manager of our previous company, WME Books: George’s book There’s a Fine Line Between a Groove and a Rut – How to avoid a sales slump and re-energize your marketing team was one of the first books we published at WME Books, and taught us the power of book as business card. George used it to convince us to hire him.
“Writing should be an enjoyable experience. And when it is – well – sometimes a book just happens. It makes no difference whether your book is the next best-selling novel or winds up as a gift to your family and friends, anyone who has the desire to write can become an author using today’s print-on-demand technology.” ~ George Kittredge
The fine line in this post is between a book and a not book. You are entitled to write something with as little as 5 pages, and call it an ebook. There are some print documents that short that would like to be considered books, I believe. But, for me, a book is a substantial collection of thoughts, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not necessarily in that order.
A not book is just an article written for the purposes of teaching a specific idea or topic. Or one blog post that leads up to another, and another, and ultimately creates a collection, which can be turned into a book. The operative word there is “collection”. A collection of content, be it blog posts or articles, put together into one document, may become a book.
Your Book, Your Idea, Your Purpose
Is it a book or not? may be an ambiguous question for some, in these days of digital vs print. We can start a long discussion on what really makes your idea a book, but for our purposes here, let’s give Wikipedia the final say:
A book is a set of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of paper, parchment, or other materials, fastened together to hinge at one side, with text and/or images printed in ink. A single sheet within a book is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is a page. A set of text-filled or illustrated pages produced in electronic format for reading on a computer screen, smartphone or e-reader device is known as an electronic book, or e-book.
I especially like the “…fastened together to hinge at one side.” That, in essence, is how we think of books. And so, a pamphlet may be a book. Would you agree?
No matter how you develop your book, in print or digital format, it needs to be your idea. The book should be your purpose. It should share your expertise. It should function as a business card, regardless of how you ultimately use it.
In those ancient by-gone days of the 20th century, self-publishing required the purchase of hundreds of printed and bound books, which one stored in one’s basement or garage. And subsequently tried to sell in a door-to-door fashion.
Today, self-publishing allows you to focus on your writing. It allows you to print books as you want or need them. It allows you to digitize some or all of the content. It allows you the control of your book, your idea, your purpose.
However, it never helps to have a friend in the business.
We are that friend. We are here to guide you and make sure your book is polished and professional. That it is all it can be, all you want it to be, and all that it should be.
Give us a shout. We’re on Twitter. We’d love to hear more about your book as business card, whatever stage it is in. @lipsticking