For years people have wondered whether printed books would soon become relics, replaced in the digital age. But a group of Christian authors note printed books are still going strong, and the digital age appears to be bringing more opportunities for publishing.
“There is something about holding a book in your hands as you read as compared to an online source,” Christian author Carolyn Tomlin told The Baptist Paper. “Throughout history, books have played a vital role in civilization.”
Books have lasting value compared to magazines and newspapers, she said, particularly because a book can easily be placed on a library shelf and available for the future.
“Sometimes oral history can get changed,” Tomlin noted. “If we write it down, the next generation is going to have something in writing. It’s more authentic that way. The person writing it down usually [provides] an eyewitness account, and that is going to be more valuable than stories that have been told and told and told.”
Tomlin, who lives in Jackson, Tennessee, emphasized the importance of writing family and community history and storing it in a safe place for future generations.
“We have a Tennessee room at our library, and it is a wonderful resource for information about this area that I live in — families that lived here, the industry, businesses, everything,” she said. “If someone had not written it down, we would not have that because they were eyewitnesses to what happened.”
Denise George, another Christian author, told The Baptist Paper a book “can do many things for a reader.”
“It can encourage, teach, give helping resources,” she explained. “A person can gift helpful books to others who need advice and encouragement.
“We need books as a society. I can’t imagine that books will ever disappear. They may change forms — from print to digital — but I believe we will always have books.”
Author Cheryl Wray said reading books is a sign of an intelligent society.
“In the last decade, we were worried that books were going to go out of style because there’s so much technology,” Wray told The Baptist Paper, “but one thing the pandemic has done is it has increased the amount of reading out there. People read more.”
Books are ideal for entertainment, education and inspiration, she noted, “especially Christian books because they communicate our story and our faith.”
For those who are writing books or considering the task, writing communities are a valuable support network, Wray said.
“A lot of times writing can be a really solitary thing. You’re sitting at your computer or writing in your notebook. You’re by yourself. You may not even have people in your family who really understand this desire you have to write,” said Wray, adding that a community helps “because you find other people who have a similar passion.”
Tomlin, who with George founded Boot Camp for Christian Writers, said now is a great time to focus on writing as some may still be avoiding crowds due to the impact of COVID-19.
“It’s been said, ‘Everyone has a story,’” Tomlin noted. “Imagine the stories that could come from one community’s writing group. Could you interview people from the older generation, perhaps those who served their country in war, or research early settlers or early businesses and industry in your community? There is no end to the possibilities.”
George, who leads Christian Writers for Life, said the online group of more than 3,000 offers seminars, opportunities to get published, responses to questions and encouragement.
“We have a great mix of writers — published and unpublished, self-published and traditionally published, seasoned and novice, extroverted and introverted — who have all made their way to Christian Writers for Life and are benefiting from the resources and sense of community we provide,” George said. “The group is growing quickly, and we welcome all Christian writers who want to join.”
To someone considering writing a book, George offers advice: “Find a writing community. Take classes and learn to write well. Study the publishing marketplace and the people who read books — the reading audience. Learn how to match the reader’s needs to the type of books a publisher wants to publish.”
Wray, who leads a Southern Christian Writers Conference each June and smaller workshops throughout the year, urged writers just to start.
“A lot of times people get so caught up on those next steps that they want to take — finding an agent, getting published — but the writing is the most important part. Just write. Just get your story down, and then you can figure out where to go from there.”
Tomlin started writing at age 48 and wishes she had begun sooner.
“Writing is something that will continue as long as I live,” Tomlin said. “There’s no retirement. It gives me so much pleasure and so much joy.”
For more information about the Southern Christian Writers Conference, email firstname.lastname@example.org.