Getting Spacey

I ambled through several bookstores last evening. My how things have changed. Over the past couple of years I did notice a thinning of the ranks of books on the shelves, an increase in general merchandise, and the ever present smell of coffee. However, last night the point hit home hard. There are fewer books than ever in some of the major chain stores I visited. More space is dedicated to presenting electronic readers to the typically paper-book-buying public. In one location, fully 20% of the floor space was occupied by long counters with only two or three of the devices on display. That’s a lot of real estate that used to be filled with examples of the printed word.

Electronic readers are on the march, and rightly so. They offer instant purchases on the fly, without having to spend time going to and from the bookstore. They have the ability to increase the size of the text, contain an internal dictionary, and are lighter than traditionally published works. Furthermore, the ability to tote many large volumes within a single unit is wonderful for people who are reading several different tomes at one time.

At the same time, I’m sad to see bookstores waning. I’ve always thought of a trip to the bookstore as an adventure, a mission to find treasure or discover a secret. Searching with an electronic unit is more akin to checking airline fares than spelunking through the cave of the book master. But these are romantic notions from a previous age. Todays new readers seem unaffected by such quaint ideas. Price and selection count above all and the bricks and mortar stores can’t compete with digital inventory in the sky.

Long live the book! In whatever form. Read, it’s good for you.

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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