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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not Lamenting Book Stores

Saturday as my husband and I were out contributing to a better economy, we drove by a large Book-A-Million book store that closed last year.  I'd been shopping there shortly before I got my first Amazon Kindle.  Even though I am a bibliophile that most people cannot imagine, I'm not a lover of bookstores.  Libraries, yes. Bookstores, no.

But... But... You sputter as you try to understand the difference and distinction.  I understand your confusion.  I'm sad that you don't understand it instinctually.

I love reading.  I spend most of my conscious time with my nose in front of an e-reader, computer screen, print on paper interface.  Reading is my primary sensory input.  As a result, I am extremely visually oriented.  Talk all you want, but unless I read it, I'm not likely to remember it until we're arguing about something, then I will remember a remark you made 15 years ago that I stored away for just such an instance.  You would think, as such a bibliophile that I would have a real love affair going with book stores.  Nope, not at all.  Why?  Let me tell you something...

When I was little I started reading very early.  I am what they call a spontaneous reader and began by reading the paper with my father, picking out words I recognized and opening my world a little bit at a time.  My aunt, another reader, was delighted and would gift me with books on any occasion.  She would also take me to book stores when I visited her.  Dalton's and Walden Books were my first encounters in books that were not on the shelves.  When I was seven and reading Laura Ingall's Wilder and wanted the next in her Little House series, it was not at either chain book store.  We had to go to the library, where their one copy was checked out and would not be available during my visit.  I was seven years old and learned to hate the limitations of book stores and libraries.  It was a rarity that either had any of the reading material I desired.  However, if I needed a magazine to read on a flight they were my go to places. The only libraries I have respect for are those at educational facilities where they also have librarians who help you find arcane subject matter in a few minutes.  Libraries are great for research, bad on actually having, in stock, books you want to take home and read.

When Amazon came about and I discovered their wealth of books my home library exploded as my discretionary funds diminished.  I loved being able to order books and have the exact book I wanted days later.  I had an extensive wish list.  But then the trouble with where to put the books became a huge problem.  We have an entire room in our house with built in book shelves.  We have two more huge book shelves that we used to store books and still we had books on every surface in our home.

Then came The Kindle. Dear God in Heaven there was nothing in this world greater than the invention of the e-reader.  This wasn't like reading PDFs on my PalmPilot.  This was fantastic!  It held hundreds of books.  I quickly went about getting my dead tree editions in electronic form.  Then I began culling my library and donating heavily to the local library and rest homes.  Others that were in pretty bad shape went into the recycle bin.  I have not bought a physical book in years.  And yet, I have the latest and greatest of reading material that I desire and it's always in my hand.

I don't have a true bibliophiles love of the smell of the paper and almost sloppy adoration of the ink on the page.  I have a really bad allergy of certain inks of certain types of paper and is the main reason I no longer read the paper.  I get a rash that weeps and then my skin peels away. So an e-reader was a great solution for me.  I've bought several editions of the same book in an attempt to find one I could comfortably read without gloves on.  Plus, like most people, the smell of book stores would trigger something in my body that would make me desperate to find a rest room.  Only Barnes and Noble had a readily available bathroom so I wouldn't leave before finding a book because I was uncomfortable.

No, for me, the e-reader, the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad are all much more preferable because they free the reader.  They are lighter than most books.  Most can be read in any light.  And, I carry my entire library with me always.  For a person that re-reads books, this is perhaps the greatest gift from God that ever was created.  I have my reference material with me ALWAYS!  I always carry it with me and I read wherever I am forced to wait, the grocery store, the doctor's office, the DMV.  I once started and read an entire book waiting for at the DMV.  No lie.

So the death of the bookstore is not a huge deal for me.  I prefer to lay hands on what I want when I want and not have to deal with snooty clerks who don't know genres or authors denying me use of their restrooms.

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