The whole notion of what a book IS, is changing. Everyone knows that, right? You don’t have to be a reader of books in digital form, as I have been for more than five years, to appreciate that what we read, how we read, is changing. Beauty from Afar kind of got caught in the early stages of all this change. My publisher did not release it as an e-book in 2006. I’m guessing that if BFA was released in 2009, there would have been an e-book. And I would further guess that if it were a book of its sort five years from now, it might be published only as an e-book.
Not that I think “real,” paper books are going away entirely, anytime soon. But there will be less of them, and more digital books. The fact is, Beauty from Afar is one of those works that would have been better as an e-book, in some future time of e-book ubiquity.
Why? There would have been pictures, lots of pictures. And the Internet addresses — URLs — would have been clickable and that would have changed how I wrote the book, too. I am of the opinion that URLs do not belong in paper books except maybe in foot- or end notes.
Nonetheless, I had no choice but to put them in, for people who might read the book and then want to go to their computers and type them in. I tried to put in as few as I could … I think they are wrong for printed books. They are impermanent.
There are quite a few of them in today’s page. Now, at least, they are clickable.