Monday, August 22, 2011

Life Skills: Digital Revolution

I feel sincerely bad about Borders going out of business: Apart from the many jobs lost, I've spent countless hours in our own local Borders, mostly in the children's section, helping my daughter find fairy books and warrior cat books. I have many fond memories of the place.

Last time we went to Borders together, though, Emma found some books that appealed to her, and we wrote the titles down, went home, and ordered them in digital format on her iPad. We did order them from Borders online - fair is fair.

Over the weekend, I tried to order a book I want to read, called How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher*. But I quickly discovered that the book is not available as an e-book - just regular ole paper - and I decided to just skip it.

I love my iPad and I like reading on it more than I thought I would. Often I fall asleep reading in bed, and wake up hugging my iPad close, like a beloved digital teddy bear. It's my best friend, and yes, it has a name - Tom Servo. This iPad actually is a replacement for my original iPad, which was defective but replaced under warranty. If you're going to name your gadgets, HAL9000 is not a choice I'd recommend. Tom Servo and I, though - we're together for the long term.

It wasn't long after I acquired Tom that I discovered I don't want to read books that aren't in digital format. Why?

  • I don't need something else to lug around. I already lug a bag filled with assorted necessities, including my iPad, which can hold a vast array of books and magazines without weighing any more than it already does. 
  • I would have to remember to lug the book around, which I frequently don't.
  • Assuming I remember there's a book I want to lug somewhere, which is an iffy proposition, I would first have to find said book, which is an iffier proposition. 

Here's the thing: I have books all over my house. If you love books, start a book blog. They just show up at your house, unbidden, complete with promotional bookmarks. I think I request some of them, others I'm not so sure - maybe I ordered them from Amazon or someone sent them to me - truthfully, I don't really know where all, or even most, of my books came from. They're everywhere, like Tribbles. Ever try finding something in a house full of Tribbles?

I don't really know what this means for Borders, or the future of bookstores. I like talking about books but the sad fact of the matter is I rarely get good recommendations from bookstores, online or in-store; most of my best recommendations have come from friends and book bloggers. Most of my daughter's most beloved books have been recommended by teachers and the school librarian.

Will I miss bookstores? To a point, sure. But once upon a time, I spent countless hours at Tower Records in New York, which is gone now too - and I don't really miss it. I really like the free previews on iTunes - listening to some of the songs tells me much more about an album than the cover art ever did. I'm pretty sure Tipper Gore found out the same when she bought her kid that Dead Kennedys album.

My records are all in the garage now - crates and crates of them - and my books are slowly migrating there as well. I like the reduced mess around the house. I especially like the reduced mess in my daughter's room.

Change can be hard, but it's often for the better: I read more - and better - books now than I ever did before.

*note use of incorrect terminology: the proper term is "birder". Not that I am one. 

1 comment:

  1. I love bookstores, and I'll always love print books, but the industry is changing. I hope there's room for everything!


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