The other day my cousin sent me a photograph of a recent family reunion. It wasn’t a digital photo attached in an email, but a real one I took out of an envelope delivered by the postman. Holding it in my hands, looking at the smiling row of faces created instant memories of an elegant, nostalgic afternoon.
I see and feel the same type of vivid imagery while holding a book in my hands, turning the pages, reading the words.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking: he’s old school.
Having written professionally for over thirty years and reading for a lot more than that, there is nothing like curling up in a chair with a good book, one that has its own particular weight, one that has my paper bookmark at the page I last read.
I have read one book on my daughter’s iPad. I enjoyed the reading, but felt as if I was reading a manuscript on my desktop.
I understand all of the arguments in favor of E-books:
–Saves on paper.
–Cheaper to publish.
–Cheaper to buy.
–Instant access for anyone anywhere in the world.
–You can adjust the size of the font.
–Pages turn with a quick finger swipe.
But reading a book on a Kindle or Nook gives you the words, but not the complete art. Would you rather see a painting online, or hanging on your wall?
Real books have book spines, with the title, cover art, the author’s name facing out on the shelf. Real books call out to someone walking by and beg to be read. Real books are lent to someone else to read. Like photographs, they may be forgotten, but instead of being lost in the next hard drive crash, they can still exist in a dusty old storage box in the attic.
Most significantly, real books flourish in libraries and create a special atmosphere—like a museum, or carnival, or a football stadium—a magnetic field that draws old and young, that excites the senses with its flow of color, with its beautiful catalogue system that invites you to physically stroll aisles to visit the worlds of fiction, biographies, facts, figures, and true stories. We can barely find that same experience in bookstores these days because of their rapid disappearance. I pray for both.
And what happens when the power goes out and your battery goes dead? You can still read a book by candlelight. What happens if cyber terrorists hack their way into the almighty Amazon and the like? You still have the books on your shelf.
I feel the saddest for the next generation of authors. My new novel, Wuthering Nights, came out in E-book several months before the trade paperback. Even though it was being read and reviewed I never had my moment with it until the day the advanced copy came in the mail and I held it in my hand, gauged its weight, turned the pages, felt the texture of the cover art, added it to the shelf with the others. No matter how many times I had proofread the manuscript while writing, re-writing, reviewing the copyedits and then the final pages, it was like re-reading it all over again once I sat down with the actual book.
I can remember back to 1983 when my first novel Seesaw came out. The manager of the local bookstore called me to tell me that my novel had arrived and that they had set up a nice display in the window. Late that night, stores closed, streets deserted, I made my way to the bookstore window. There it was: my novel, propped up on a small stand, the cover art, the title, my name fully displayed, inviting customers to take a walk inside the store and hold it in their hands. It was a beautiful moment that sped up my heart. I wish that experience for every young writer, the current young generation, and the next, and the next.
And there may be a day when I will be too old to remember exactly that wet winter’s day, less clear about all I saw coupled with the emotions I felt. I’m not worried. All I have to do is go up to my attic, open a dusty old box, and dig out the photograph I took that night.
Romantics everywhere have been enthralled by Emily Bronte’s classic novel of the tragic love between beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw and dark, brooding Heathcliff. The restrained desire between these two star-crossed lovers has always smoldered on the page. And now it ignites into an uncontrollable blaze. In WUTHERING NIGHTS, writer I.J. Miller reimagines this timeless story to reveal the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff–in all its forbidden glory.
Set against the stark, raw beauty of the English moors, Heathcliff, an abandoned orphan, recognizes his soulmate in wild, impulsive Catherine, the only woman who can tame his self-destructive nature. And Catherine cannot deny the all-consuming desire she feels for him, despite his low birth. Together they engage in a fiery affair–one that will possess them, enslave them, and change their destinies forever…
*GIVEAWAY* Not 1, not 2, but FIVE print copies of Wuthering Nights are up for grabs. Winners must live in the US or Canada. Contest ends June 23 at 11:59PM EDT.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I.J. Miller is the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. Miller’s latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and, MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, as a trade paperback both online and in bookstores. The audio book is due out July 16. Miller has a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and has taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.