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Publishing Books

Tactile

I was listening to music yesterday when a flash of inspiration hit. Not so much a flash, but a tactile moment when the words of my feelings and thoughts insisted on flooding down into my iPhone.

I switched to the notepad on my computer and began typing furiously. But I was still connected to my Bluetooth, so the haptics were bouncing around on the speaker that was twenty feet across the room from my words on the screen. 

It felt ungrounded, irritatingly disconnected from what I was writing. The flow from my brain through my fingertips to the words on the screen felt untethered. The thoughts were flying fast and I dared not break the rhythm. I thought I could power through, but the clatter of my typing from the speaker was getting louder and louder, colliding with my thoughts, screaming into my ears at increasingly loud decibels.

And then the thoughts were gone, and the words I had crafted in my head vanished into the noise. It’s been a day now and they have not come back. I think they are forever lost and I am mourning their departure because they were perfect. 

I have been doing some serious thinking lately about the visuals hybrid-publishers use in social channels because so many of them feature typewriters, pens and journals. At Sharktooth Press, we do the same. It’s not because we are Luddites, eschewing technology or romanticizing the past, but because we are seeking to connect the ethereal thoughts and feelings to the physical. Humans need touch and every word feels the same under glass. 

A printed book has heft, depth and texture. Words — spilled into ink, crushed into paper — are real. They are tactile. The reader can feel their weight on her fingertips and hear them like waves on her skin. 

But the challenge of visually differentiating ourselves from a flood of typewriters remains. Every author knows this feeling; how to make her book stand out from the thousands of new titles and the millions already on the shelves. It’s the “under glass” challenges we face in the age of digital communication that brings up the issue. If we were going about our lives, in our own communities, publishing local authors’ books, there would be no comparison to all of the other hybrid publishers “out there.”

Ditto for authors. The sheer exhaustion of creating a platform that is different from everyone else’s seems like such a waste of energy when the writing should be the thing that sets everyone apart. Our energy goes into high-quality publishing, a tactile process, but how do you communicate that visually given the glut of images we see on any given day. How do you really communicate that in an image that is meant to convey an elevator pitch?