The Energy of a Book

I know that this sounds so 1980 in the digital age but I rediscovered my love for real, bound books. Even pocketbooks. They have a special energy and this energy is not comparable to a document I read on a Kindle.

Once we published and printed my books, I always made an effort and treated them like little treasure of gold. Even though sometimes a book can be misplaced it actually always “works”. You don’t have to charge it and you don’t need WiFi to use it. When you see a book in another person’s hand it triggers curiosity.

As a coach and lecturer, I love it when clients and students hold my books in their hands. It’s almost as if they cherish the fruit of my labor. It strikes my ego and makes me very proud, especially since I find all of my past book projects were almost aborted in the process (for different reasons: criticism, lack of funds, change of editors, lack of professionalism on the team).

I started to autograph my own books before I give them away and my colleagues, clients, and friends seem to appreciate a few handwritten words. We think that digitalization has magically improved our lives for the better and yes, we can name the successes and we can list easily how we now have access to encyclopedias of knowledge, free online management courses that would normally be only accessible by the privileged and we see the rise of the “common man” (and woman).

But is this really what our soul cherishes? Don’t you know the feeling of emptiness when you try not to look at your phone for an hour or even a whole day?

Don’t you feel a little lost when you are in another country and you don’t have access to WiFi? And then don’t your eyes enjoy the beauty of the written word in black and white?

The energy of my printed words came with me to a conference in Germany and I noticed that participants were curious. I actually sold a few books there. It felt great, that I could show some of the highlights, explain why I wrote them and see people’s reactions right away.

It felt weird to see a lot of books at the book table that I normally would buy in English in the German translation and I felt like a global nomad on home leave. I can understand expats, who have lived abroad for a while. It’s nice to dwell in the homeland, to walk along the river Rhine, watch the remainders of the “Bundesrepublik”, the stately home of the German President and other federal buildings.

I was also so happy to see the names of all those famous, humanistic Germans who contributed to society. It was especially suitable as I have just started to read a novel (in pocketbook format) that starts after the first world war. Still, you feel like the words that you are using sound a bit different, that you don’t know all the buzzwords and that you look a bit funny and out of place.

Another reason why I really like the energy of the printed book is that as an author you worry a lot about making a living. With a .pdf or even an online magazine, your work can be easily copied. In print, it takes a bit more effort. I also believe that the topics I write about fit an online audience to a certain extent only. They grow and become clearer and bigger with the interaction between the reader and the coach or the student and the teacher, depending on how the books are used.

My final word is about how you interact with a workbook. Maybe it sounds old-fashioned but a lot of my work is about helping my readers, clients, and students to inner clarity. In my experience handwriting is helpful in psychological processes and the more regularly I write, the clearer my thoughts are. So, it might be useful to consider paper books as a strategy for focus and clarity in times of distraction, vagueness, and shallowness.

Maybe a book is the new deep relationship in our life when we notice that Siri does not understand us (“I have connectivity issues” he told me today) or when Alexa continues to order stuff we don’t need just because it is convenient. A book promises a good time for little money and an encounter with people you might not normally meet. And with that, I say goodbye for this week so a part of the train ride is left for continuing the current novel.

Angie

 



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