Embracing the Digital Beast

It seems stupid to get nostalgic about the end of a national conglomerate chain, but there it is. I live in the Connecticut suburbs, just a couple of miles from a massive shopping center that spills into three towns and sprawls up and down a series of hills. There never was an indie bookstore for me to go to, aside from a handful of used bookstores, now defunct; and to be honest I can’t get too nostalgic about the used stores, because I like to buy them new. (I also like the authors to get some royalties, you know?)

So, given the choice between two nearby Barnes & Nobles and our nearest Borders, I chose Borders. That store closed several months ago, no doubt thanks to the Barnes & Noble right up the hill, the one that is attached to the mall and is always filled to overflowing with people. Borders was quieter (yes, I know that was part of the problem). Borders had better cafe drinks. Borders felt more personable. Borders was where I spent many a Friday night, quietly walking the shelves to select the week’s purchase from among hundreds.Alas, no more. Barnes & Noble isn’t the same, and hasn’t become my new Friday night hangout. I’ve taken to ordering books online from Borders, despite their hellishly slow website, and despite the CD that I ordered over a month ago that I still haven’t received. I can still show the love that way, right?

I also maybe sort of bought a Kindle in there. I know — feeding the corporate gods here. I know. Maybe I should have bought a Nook, but is that any better? Maybe the Kobo, but I don’t know anyone who owns a Kobo. I think I went for the Kindle because I was going to embrace this beast in its entirety — I was going to learn to love the ebook.

It…hasn’t happened yet. I like ebooks, sure, but I don’t love them, which is why I still intend to purchase physical copies of all the books I know I’m going to love or even think I’m going to love. But I also haven’t read many ebooks yet — one collection of stories, one short YA novel, and one Shakespearean play (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Yay for finally reading AMND, which I had intended to read for years, so I guess the ereader is good for that? I’ve also downloaded Wuthering Heights to give it a fair reading long after high school, and my husband is reading A Tale of Two Cities for the first time. So, huzzah! for free classics, but the rest…Verdict is still out.

But now that Borders is “liquidating its assets” everyone is going to start up the ol’ print-books-are-going-the-way-of-the-dodo thing again. Last time there was a rush of such talk I panicked. I like books — their smell, their weight, their colorful covers — and I like that we have them lying in stacks in my apartment because two bookshelves aren’t nearly enough.

I don’t want to be an old fart, though, clinging to the When I Was Your Age way of doing things. And I especially don’t want to weep copiously in the event that my books, whenever I begin to publish, aren’t released in physical form.

I want to learn to love the ebook.

But even if I manage that, I’m going to miss my Friday night hangout. Amazon is no substitute for walking the shelves. Amazon doesn’t surround you with its wares, doesn’t give you anything to hold, isn’t wonderful to look at. It’s not a place to go or even, really, a thing to do, just something to bop onto once you’ve culled your book recs from dozens of other sites and blogs. Not a replacement, but a new thing. In with the old, out with the new, I guess.

What about you? Yay, nay, or meh to the “ebook revolution”?

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3 thoughts on “Embracing the Digital Beast

  1. HA! Looks like I answered your question in the above post! Recap: I prefer print, but am selective about what books to buy and store on my shelves. For books I want to read but not keep, I use my kindle app. wont pay more than 15 bucks (price of a trade paperback) and the cheaper the better. I love hanging out at bookstores. My niche of CT only has Barnes and Noble, so I hang out there several times a month.

  2. Hehe, I don't know which comment to answer! At first I thought this would be one long post – this one plus an addendum about Amazon – but it felt too long so I broke it up. I'm kind of the same way despite owning a Kindle – only using it for books I don't feel I need to have on a shelf somewhere.As for B&N, I hang out there sometimes. But bookstores attached to malls get a lot more "just passing through" traffic and that's unfortunate. Sitting in their cafe is anything but relaxing.

  3. I've never bought an ebook before! This, despite the fact I've downloaded the Kindle app on both my laptop and my phone. It's nice not to have to deal with the clutter of too many books, but when I settle down somewhere I'd definitely want to build a library of favorite books in hard copy (and yes, the Hunger Games will be one of them :P).

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