You probably recognize the name Dr. Carl Sagan, the brilliant astronomer.
Many historians regard Sagan as the most important planetary scientist of
His accomplishments ranged from directing daring, ambitious satellite
projects that explored our solar system—Pioneer, Mariner, and Galileo to
name a few—to theorizing about moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter
possessing liquid, life-giving compounds, including water. (Later space
missions proved these and many more of Sagan’s cosmic theories to be
correct.) He even briefed NASA Apollo astronauts about the challenges
they would face on the moon.
Back on earth, Sagan co-wrote and narrated the award-winning 13-part PBS
television series, Cosmos:
A Personal Voyage, which became the most widely watched
series in the history of American public television.
He had a rare combination of skills: A brilliant theorist who could also
skillfully communicate his mind-expanding ideas to fascinated audiences
around the globe.
While most will remember Sagan’s work in helping humankind solve some of
the mysteries of space, today I’m more grateful for how this intellectual
giant expressed his sense of wonder about another human achievement:
“What an astonishing thing a book is,” marveled Sagan. “It’s a flat
object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots
of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind
of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the
millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head,
directly to you.”
“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together
people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break
the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working
I used Dr. Sagan’s quote last night at the opening gala for our
Independent Authors Conference (IAC18). The conference officially opens
today. If you’re reading this email before one of our sessions, track me
down and let me know what you thought of Sagan’s statement.
I think it sums up the power and potential of the written word, and
self-publishing is its newest and most ambitious experiment to bring more
books into the marketplace. Our research continues today at our IAC18.