- I wrote a book.
- The book I wrote is on my shelf.
I'll call the meanings bookp and bookc. A bookp is a physical object. It consists of pages of paper with ink on them. The pages are bound together and held between two covers. Bookps are what bookstores and libraries are filled with.
A bookc is not a physical object. The c stands for content, and if we assume that the content of a book is a simple stream of text (which is essentially true for most novels), bookc is that stream of text. The text might get printed on pages that are bound together, thus yielding a bookp, but the text might also get spoken aloud and recorded as an audiobook. It might get distributed over a set of web pages, thus forming a web site. The content of a book is independent of its packaging, and in fact packaging is what the p in bookp stands for. A bookp is simply one of many different ways of packaging a bookc.
Authors don't generally write bookps, although I suppose those who self-publish and keep boxes of books in their garage do. Rather, authors write bookcs. The semantics of the statements above, then, can be depicted this way:
- I wrote a bookc.
- The bookp I wrote is on my shelf.
Like Mulder, I want to believe, because I happen to like writing books (i.e., bookcs). Other entries in this blog make clear that I think a lot about bookps, but that's simple pragmatics. The publishing industry is changing, but it's currently set up to produce, market, distribute, and sell books in printed form. Remaining mindful of authoring constraints arising from printing considerations is no different from remaining mindful of software constraints arising from Windows considerations (assuming, in both cases, you want to maximize the number of platforms on which you can deliver what you produce).
Authors who leave all the layout decisions to their publishers (i.e., most of them) worry only about bookc considerations. Authors such as me who can't keep themselves from delving into layout matters have to keep bookp issues in mind, but it doesn't change the fact that, fundamentally, writing a book means writing a bookc.