Even though many of us have a mile high stack of to-be-read books, we will look for new ones. At least I do. I will go so far as to say I have an addiction to print books. I don’t think there is any such thing as having too many books and have a sweatshirt that says that exact thing, given to me by someone who knows me very well. However, how we go about finding new books and authors is changing, almost daily.
When I was younger there was no internet and we went about getting books the old fashioned way – searching at a book store. Some made use of the library (and still do). I am not a library person. I am not saying there is anything wrong with libraries because they are wonderful, exciting places. The problem is me, and not getting books back on time. I tried one year to save money and read only library books. I am not sure I saved all that much after the fines were paid. My friend, on the other hand, reads only library books, finishes them in a timely manner, and gets them back when due. I envy that in her. I’ve tried to be like that, I really have, but I guess I am not organized enough.
So, since borrowing from the library is out, stores were the next best option. There used to be two in the mall, and five more that were part of various strip malls within close driving distance. The last mall bookstore closed two years ago and a local Christian bookstore closed, then reopened last year under new ownership. The rest are gone, but there is a B&N down the road, and Borders a little further away. While it was sad to see the others go, I am glad for the B&N, Borders and the one remaining Christian bookstore. There is also a used bookstore that carriers new releases written by local authors. I love this store too. (Note: I’ve never met a bookstore I didn’t love).
The bookstore as we know it began to change when the B&N’s and Borders came to be, which is not news to anyone who reads. But, as the B&N and Borders were growing the internet became more popular and Amazon was discovered by billions, and readers had new options for finding and purchasing books (among other products). I’ve been to Amazon often and don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve probably spent over the years. Have I mentioned my addiction? Where it used to be only paperback and hardback books were available, now you can purchase new or used, paperback, hardback, e-book and audio. Ever option is available for most of the books. I’ve recently added audio books to my reading preferences. Since I seem to be spending more and more time on the go, I love having a book waiting for me in the CD player in my car and I don’t take a road trip without one ready to go and another waiting to be “read”. At home, I still rely on the old-fashioned way of reading – paper.
E-readers are becoming more and more popular, and I can understand the draw, but I don’t own one and don’t see myself purchasing one in the near future. It goes back to holding that paper product in my hand and cracking the binding for the first time when I open the book to discovery a new world and meet new characters. And, an e-reader cannot replace my audio books (at least to my knowledge).
Readers now can discover new authors and genres through websites and blogs, instead of searching the bookshelves for that wonderful find. This is great for all authors out there, especially those who are with the smaller publishers who aren’t granted shelf space in the larger bookstores or those who are with publishers who only e-publish.
But, with all of the technology the bookstore as we know is disappearing and this makes me very sad. I have heard that Border’s is suffering and now I read an article that Amazon may be purchasing B&N. What will that mean for the store? Will the day come that there are no more bookstores? The idea is too scary to contemplate, at least for me.
One of my favorite outings is going into one of my local bookstores and searching the many shelves for interesting books. After I have my stack, I wander into the café, order a calorie filled coffee drink and spend some relaxation time reading first chapters and such before I decide which ones I am going to purchase. My husband and kids often accompany me on these trips and we split up the moment we were inside because none of us like the same thing. But, we meet back in the café, all with books in our arms and talk about why we are drawn to the books we are considering. I love these trips and I really hope the bookstore doesn’t become extinct because trying to choose my next reading material on the internet, by myself, with a generic cup of black coffee is just not the same.
Do you own an e-reader and how do you prefer it over paper? Do you still frequent bookstores or do you prefer the internet? How do you discover new authors and books? Is it still that trusted friend or do blogs have equal influence? I am very curious as to the trends of the readers out there. I can read all about what the industry sees happening, but how do you, as a reader, decide what to read and how to read it?
Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency