Let’s put our money where our mouths are. We’ve said it again and again on this blog–we love our paper books. I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to, and not just book-industry types, who have tried to express their feelings about the feel of a paper book in their hands. Holding a book is so much more than just a tactile experience. It’s beautiful to look at (people spend a lot of time choosing fonts, paper and cover art for a reason!), it has a certain smell (does an e-reader ever smell deliciously musty and dusty? I think not!) and it frequently evokes a pleasurable memory (curled up by the fire on a rainy day maybe?). I have sort of joined the e-reader bandwagon, but kind of half-heartedly. E-readers have their benefits and I like that about them—if I need a book for a deadline, or need to streamline my travel bag, my iPad certainly is convenient. But an e-reader for me is only that—a convenience, not a substitute.
Followers of this blog also know that we have recently lost the only bookstore that we had in town. And thanks to Border’s presence in our town for many years, we didn’t have any independent booksellers left here to fill their void (ah, the irony). I found myself in a Barnes and Noble at the mall the other day, and oh lordy, I didn’t realize how much I had missed being amongst the stacks! I was like a crazy woman, browsing the aisles and picking things up, flipping pages and reading jacket flaps. I bought a couple of holiday gifts, and added several titles to my mental list for other family members. I made myself a promise right then and there that if I ever hope to see a bookstore OPENING instead of closing, I need to put my money where my mouth is and go find one where I can do my holiday book shopping live and in person. I know things will get crazy now that the holidays are here, and I will be sorely tempted to make an Amazon “run” around midnight some night, just to check a few things off my list. But I’m going to make a public pledge right here and now that not only will I consider books as gifts for more people on my list, but I will also find the independent bookseller closest to me, and make an outing of it to go there and make my purchases. I will (hopefully) not once grumble about the prices being a little higher, and the parking or traffic being challenging!
Maybe, if I spout off about my pledge enough, a few others will join me? I can accept that the book industry is changing, and that there is a segment of it that will go electronic. There is obviously a market for that. But in our electronic age of instant-gratification and frenetic multi-tasking, there is a lovely calming refuge to be found in being able to put all devices away, and curl up and lose oneself in a book. I pledge to be an advocate for our beloved paper books, and to teach my children about this lovely simple pleasure. All those parenting guides tell me I have to lead by example, so I guess I’d better start Googling those ony-semi-local indie bookstores right now : )