Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Not shiny, not absorbent

Having control of your product is a wonderful thing. The novelty hasn't worn off yet.

I just received my first copies of GOING GREY from the printer. I've grown used to seeing trade paperbacks (the larger format ones that come in a wide range of sizes) printed on paper stock with the texture and grim utilitarian colour of recycled toilet tissue, and if you're an author who signs books in yer actual liquid ink with a proper pen, the implications of that become immediately apparent. It has all the bleeding and feathering behaviour of blotting paper without any useful absorbency. And it just doesn't look or feel like a classy experience.

So I opted for white paper instead of cream when I did the specs for the print order, making my judgment on the basis of That Which Had Gone Before. (What we used to call in my TV days getting a white balance, in this case thinking white was Average TPB White.) When I opened the box, though, it really was strikingly white. I mean white. The white you get when you crack open a ream of printer paper. It takes ink pretty well, too. Now that's what I'd always expected to see in a fancy TPB. Off-white rough paper was what I associated with MMPBs ( mass market paperbacks). MMPBs are going the way of the dodo, so the TPB seems to be filing its niche in the dead tree ecology.

It's a quality cover, too, a nice velvety matt. I need to do some adjustment of the artwork on the spine fold, but that's the joy of using CreateSpace. I can change anything, anytime, anyhow, and I don't have to pulp a warehouse-load of books to do it. They're not cheap to produce, but you do get the feeling that you're selling something that'll last a few years and not turn yellow and crumble after a couple of reads.

Overall, I'm finding that this is a much more civilised way to ply my trade. I shall now take a break and make some carrot sorbet. No, I've never tried it before. But I have the ol' Gelato Chef up and running again, and a bottle of carrot juice, so I thought – why not fling it in, throw the switch, and see what emerges?