Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy
I read a blog post the other day, entitled Amazon, eBooks and the demise of Borders and bookshop culture. The blogger posted it a couple weeks ago, right around the time Borders announced that all its stores would be closing for good. And it speaks to the fact that the way we’re reading these days is changing. The leisurely trip to Borders to peruse the stacks and shelves is no more. The common act of reading words on paper is dwindling fast. And getting lost in a good book isn’t really the same when you’re holding a screen in your hands.
I guess the blog post spoke to me and got me thinking back to when I was a kid. My nose was always stuck in a book. Nowadays, people have got their eyes glued to e-readers. Literally glued. To the point where they can’t power them down when they’re flying on an airplane and the flight attendant is practically down their throats, barking “sir/ma’am, that needs to be off!” Happens every time. And I just smile as I flip the page of my power-button-lacking real book.
It’s not that I’m opposed to anyone who has an e-reader. I’ll admit, it probably motivates you to read more, knowing that you can breeze through “book” 1 and instantly move onto “book” 2 with a few clicks of a button. But I just don’t see myself parting from real books. With a cover and pages you can actually feel. A tangible object that slips in neatly alongside the rest of the books in my nightstand. A real book, I can actually curl up with. A real book, you can actually bond over with your children at night. A real book, that doesn’t need to be charged.
As for Borders, it’s a sad thing to see them go. I remember when the hubs and I took a trip to Chicago for Valentine’s Day last year. It was a very laid-back trip. We spent a good chunk of the day at the Borders off Michigan Avenue, searching for good reads and dropping $80 on a few paperbacks. Not something you typically do when traveling, but I liked that we did.
And then, last week the Borders CEO sent a farewell email to all subscribers, and that made me more sad. It came off as an honest acknowledgement of the company’s struggle to stay afloat during these tough economic times. And thanked the customers that have remained loyal and played a part in their story all these years.
But my “awww, sad” moment quickly dissipated the moment I stopped into Borders last Friday to check out the liquidation sale. The line to the cash registers was practically out the door. The Seattle’s Best coffee shop was dark and dismal. There were ugly yellow and black discount signs that read like caution tape instead of the soothing “hey, sit down and stay a while” look that Borders typically goes for. And the place was buzzing with bargain hunters. It was just so uncharacteristic of a bookstore. Since when does a bookstore buzz? When there’s a liquidation, that’s when.
So what does all of this change in our reading ways make me want to do? Turn off the TV more. Step away from the computer more. Put down the iPhone more. And read. Regardless of how you read, I think the important thing is to read, period. Especially those young people out there. Justin Bieber will one day get old and crinkly, and therefore, smelly. When a book gets old and crinkly with stained pages and doodles inside, it gets smelly too. But it’s that good library book kind of smell. A smell that tells you this book has made others think — whether they thought the contents were good or bad. There are millions upon millions of thoughts that can be generated from a single book. Teeny boppers would beg to differ, but I think that means more than any Bieber ballad ever could.