An actual book…

In my house we have a space that an estate agent would grandly call a Utility Room. It contains such exciting things as the washing machine, freezer, piles of recording gear and radio controlled models. It also has boxes and boxes of unsold paperback versions of Chosen (that’s what happens when a national book chain orders copies for every branch, shortly before going bust). Some of them are currently propping up a table. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the Futility Room.

Mega lolz.

The solution to this mountain of books is to publish in ebook format. I’ve used the Kindle platform (it’s called KDP) for years now and it’s really good. I decide how much things sell for and can run promotions and give-aways. There’s no Futility Room full of books, the whole things just hums away in the background.

But there’s nothing quite like an actual book. A lot of people don’t like reading off a screen for one thing, plus there’s the look and ‘feel’ of a paperback. I have to confess: I’m in this camp. Ebook publishing (which includes Kindle) is a brilliant “business model” (yuk) because you don’t have storage issues, delivery costs etc. But as a reader, I just love everything about a physical book.

So it was exciting, a few weeks ago, to be invited onto a new Beta program that KDP were running, to create paperback versions of my books that would be based on the Print On Demand idea. The book doesn’t exist until someone buys one from Amazon. Then a machine (in my mind a giant contraption that hisses steam and smells of toffee) whirrs into life and prints, cuts, binds and covers one brand-new book. I saw one of those machines in the flesh a few years ago (disappointingly lacking in steam) and it was impressive. It was due to be installed in branches of Blackwells and would mainly be used for academic texts. Now Amazon seem to have invested heavily in the idea.

I jumped at the chance and started the process. I immediately discarded the idea of using the digital file of the Kindle version of The Veil as it looked weird (you get to see a mock up on screen). So I went right back to the original manuscript. After much faffing with borders and line spacing, and after the fabulous Paul Moss made me a bespoke paperback cover, I hit the Publish button.

Oops. The book that arrived in the post was massive. Turns out, I’d selected the US paperback format which is much bigger than the UK one (add your own punchline). There are some things you can tweak when the book has been Approved but size ain’t one, so I had to start from scratch. But it also gave me the chance to really get to grips with page layout and how the cover blurb looked. Yesterday, I took delivery of a much smaller, glossier copy. It just feels so nice in the hand. Those words look weird on the screen but if you love books, you’ll know what I mean. It is an actual book.

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So The Veil is now available to buy in a paperback from Amazon. It takes about a day to arrive but you’ll know that this book was just a twinkle in my eye only 48 hours previously. And no, it doesn’t smell of toffee.

Oh, and here’s the Link.