Oh for a book

May 26, 2014
oh for a book

Can you imagine waxing this eloquent over an E-book?

Rumor has it that Barnes and Noble is on its last leg. Some are wondering if their stores will be around to see the new year ring in.

It’s ironic that the big chains have driven many small independent bookstores out of business and now, Amazon is driving the last chain over the edge.

Like everyone else, the allure of cheap books makes me an Amazon customer, even if I do try to support indies when I am in one.

Here’s the distressing part of the demise of the bookstore: no more browsing.

Amazon’s “look inside” feature is a pale substitute for looking at a cover, then the tactile nature of paging through a book. Feeling the weight of the paper. The smell of the ink. The care we take not to crack the binding.

In a real bookstore, the whole world of literature lies before us. We can actually walk through it, stopping at philosophy if we wish, or sports or even cookbooks.  Yes, it’s true that those same works are available online. But in a brick and mortar bookstore, we are in the presence of the greats, not just looking at dots on a screen.

I like to think that I’m fairly modern. I do, after all, use a Kindle. But I like the feel of a book in my hands and I like how easy it is to page through and find things at a glance.  Students who tell me they prefer an e-textbook? I can’t even fathom how they can study, highlight and find things.

Am I old and stuffy? Not contemporary? I don’t feel that way, but maybe I am.

31 comments on “Oh for a book
  1. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    Happy Memorial Day Carol. Someday, we’ll be saying Happy Hard cover book day and we’ll have a parade down our main street with cub scouts and Brownies dressed as their story favorite characters. Authors will carry banners, and bikes will be decorated with printed pages and colorful paperbacks pasted on their petals .School marching bands will play the theme songs from movies made from books, and the final stop will be at the local library, where we will all bow our heads and pledge to contribute more money next year, to keep their valuable stock on the shelves. We will no longer be able to borrow from the library–it will be more like a museum-we will wear while gloves so as not to ruin the pages, and authors reading there will ask you to bring your Kindle to sign. It’s a Stange New World.

  2. Roz Warren says:

    I’m with you. I LOVE to browse. Thankfully, I work in a library, where browsing is still possible. (So, browsers, please support your local library!)

  3. Donna says:

    I will miss it so much, for all the reasons you so so beautifully wrote. I love bookstores.

  4. I prefer to read on my ipad kindle app…EXCEPT when it comes to fashion/beauty books. I like to be able to refer back to other pages. I never liked the Barnes and Noble here. The store was too big and I could never find anyone to help me. The staff at Borders was friendlier. I was sad when they closed their doors.

  5. pia says:

    I live 30 miles from the nearest good book store. The ones near me focus on Christian literature which is fine but not for me.
    When I lived in Manhattan I lived eight blocks in both directions from two Barnes & Nobles. The Borders was good but became too packed with tourists who looked and didn’t buy. I stopped going.
    Before them we had many great smaller chain and indie book stores.
    I knew when I made this move the Internet made it possible. I didn’t realize I would buy stock in Amazon to help support my habit.
    I love browsing in book stores but I’ve found that I can plug in any authors name in Amazon and voila–they came up and many like them.
    The internet makes it possible to “meet” many great authors. They make suggestions about other writers. I miss the authors lectures but get the chance to exchange personal messages.
    If I began pining for bookstores I would begin missing independent coffee houses, movie theaters, boutiques and much more. So I embrace the change because I have too!

  6. Bookstores have always been my most favorite places. The inevitable demise of them in the wake of online shopping has been a great loss in my life. I am sorry to see this happening.

  7. I too love to hold a book in my hands. My kids love their Kindles and my husband has a deep affection for his iPad, but their is nothing better than reading an actual book. And the pleasure of going into a store and browsing all the possible titles is something I would really miss. Thanks for a great post!

  8. What a terrific post, there are so many lines in it that I love (and relate too!) that I fear I would clog this entire comment section if I began listing them! This one though…”But in a brick and mortar bookstore, we are in the presence of the greats, not just looking at dots on a screen.” perfect.

  9. Carol Graham says:

    Interesting that you brought that up because when I published my memoir I wasn’t even considering eBook. Isn’t that hilarious??? My publisher, of course, told me I was ridiculous but at the time I didn’t even know what social media was — a few short months ago LOL

    The trend I have been seeing is that people buy my ebook and then then order the paperback as well. Probably for the reasons you listed. It is a nice compliment.

  10. Ruth Curran says:

    I wonder if it’s Amazon or Kindle or web mentality that is pushing the change in how we shop for and read books. Even though I am starting to embrace the magic of e-books, I can’t imagine a life without used book stores. Will that become shopping for antiques???? Crazy shifts….

  11. Kathy says:

    I also have books on my ipad and it is convenient for travel but nothing is like holding the book in your hand, turning the pages and becoming lost in the visualization of the words you are reading. I don’t get the same feel with e-books.
    I miss Borders but also the smaller book shops. We had a store called Little Professor and they had contests for free books. It will be sad to see the demise of Barnes and Noble.
    At least we still have our libraries to borrow and browse books.
    Great post

  12. This is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart. I love love love books and wrote a whole post about how Kindle is okay for things like travel but will never replace the experience of reading a real book for me. The demise of Barnes and Noble just makes me so sad and I hope someone will come along and take their place.

  13. Lana says:

    So sad – I love bookstores – just the smell makes me happy! I am guilty of buying a lot of my books from Amazon though. Still haven’t been able to give in to the Kindle craze because I love the feel of a book so much.

  14. kim tackett says:

    I love my kindle, but I love my books more. My parents (who are in their 80s) bought us all Kindles, and loaded it up with all of their books. Their gift to us is that we buy whatever we want, and share it with each other. I love reading along with my siblings and parents. But I do miss the days of browsing independent book stores with our girls. That was our Friday night day. Luckily, they still love to do that…and Powell’s in Portland is a family shrine.

  15. I hope B&N doesn’t close, and not because of my love of books. I’ve actually donated pretty much all of my traditional books, except for the ones that mean the most to me, and went to the Kindle.
    However, my best friend is a long time employee of B&N, and I would hate for her to not have that family in her life on a daily basis.

  16. Come on ladies, rally. We’ve been hearing it for years. They won’t disappear in our lifetime. They can’t. We’ll protest. We’ll rant and rave. And you know what? Those great little second-hand bookstores will become all the rage. Here in Newmarket we have “The last video store” doing a great business on Main Street, and do you know why? Because it’s such a novelty! Books have been around FAR longer. And Carol, you’re right. There’s just something about the feel, the weight, the smell and the memories of books. They’re magic.

  17. Your nostalgia really resonates for me, Carol. We still have a wonderful indie bookstore here in Ashland, which hosts author readings twice a week and struggles to hang on (Bloomsbury Books). Also libraries meet my own need to be physically enveloped by books.
    The desire to hang onto the time when a book was more than just a commodity and a publisher more than just another arm of a corporate giant led me to found Fuze Publishing. I should say sucked me into it. Keeping alive a small indie press isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it feels like the right thing to be doing.

  18. PS–I’m going to post your blog on the Fuze Publishing Facebook page right now. Keep them coming!

  19. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I love to hold and touch a book! Eventually I know I will have to get used to the electronic version….but I am holding out!

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