So, I’m not afraid of the technology. I wouldn’t meltdown if you a placed a Kindle in my hands and use terms like, new-fangled. I think I could figure out the Kindle and maybe even the Nook, although those Barnes & Noble people are tricky. No, I’m more afraid of what the eReaders represent on the whole. I hope the bookstore isn’t going the way of my beloved Fotomat. I clicked on an article yesterday expecting this story, only to find out I had misinterpreted the headline, “Shelf Life.” So, instead of reading someone else’s take, I get to put my own spin on things. I think we’re probably still a long way off from losing the printed book all together, but the signs are out there, things are changing. Pretty soon people are going to be on me to get a Kindle or Nook like they give me a hard time about EZ-Pass.
If you are in the business of giving me gifts, don’t ever get me a Kindle. I really have nothing against the Kindle, or Amazon for that matter, and if you love your Kindle…well, I love that you love it, but I don’t want to participate. I like to read books, and while I’ve gotten accustomed to reading a newspaper or magazine online, the jump to a book is just too large for me to make. I like holding the book in my hands. I like being able to see a tangible representation of how many pages are left. I like the way books look scattered around my apartment. Sure, your Kindle can hold however many books, but it’s still only one Kindle. Doesn’t exactly fill up a majestic bookcase.
And, it’s really not an ego thing. I don’t get enough visitors to be trying to impress people with the books I’ve read, though if you did come over you’d see a few books that don’t have any pictures in them. The books make me feel good when I look at them. There is something comforting about them. Having them lining the walls is akin to putting on your favorite pair of slippers, it’s a way to know you are home. And, if I can get up even a little bit higher on my horse here, I do feel some responsibility to the author to own an actual copy of their book, or at least to read it in book form. Having a digitized version of F. Scott Fitzgerald co-mingling with your SI subscription or something like that is just a bit profane, for me.
But, the bookstore is in trouble. Borders could be wiped off the planet before we know it, and partially because they didn’t make the quick jump to the eReader? This doesn’t bother me in itself, I’m no Borders fan, but it would be ominous if Borders couldn’t stay in business. Barnes & Noble is pushing the Nook hard, and that is interesting, because in the end it can’t be good business for their brick and mortar stores. In 10 years are Barnes & Noble stores going to be quaint coffee shops that sell Nook accessories and 50% off calendars? I certainly hope not.
I suppose there will always be used book stores. Perhaps the printed word will eventually evolve into a collector’s item like vinyl records. Shops will pop up selling the classics in paper and hardback. All the more reason to hold onto my books. Is that the Pelican Brief? In hardcover? Classic!
I just envision a world where it is less and less convenient to read actual books. They’ll be sold at less locations. The price will probably increase. Books might start getting released on eReaders well in advance of their actual printing. I imagine people who work at publishing houses must really be scrambling. Are we going to be able to justify ourselves when the whole world has a Kindle? I’m not sure I can answer that one, but I know there will be at least one hold out, driving around looking for the World’s last Barnes & Noble and turning up my nose at the army inside trying to sell me the Nook.