WARNING: RANT AHEAD! After reading the article below in The New Yorker, I thought I would add my two cents from an author's perspective, or at least this author's perspective.
We need to be careful about what we ask for, because we just might get it.
The haunting melody and lyrics to an old song by Joni Mitchell (Big Yellow Taxi) has stayed with me since the first time I heard it, I guess I'm just an old-fashioned kind of guy -'THEY PAVED PARADISE AND PUT UP A PARKING LOT...' Yes, the lyrics from a song from the seventies about PROGRESS...
Losing the old ways to progress forward isn't always bad, but when it is bad it's usually really bad..., (Don't it always seem to go... that we don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...?) but sometimes when it's gone, we miss it.
I get it, but sometimes when you pave paradise, it's hard to go back. Think about what is happening in the music industry. Antiquated technology, the phonograph record album is coming back. I can't listen to the sterilized MP3 version of Stairway to Heaven on my iPod without longing for that one place my record used to skip a tiny bit. I listened to that album until I literally wore it out and the little dust, skips, pops and crackles is PURE NOSTALGIA to me now and a part of what that song, that album, that time means to me and its place in my history. That skip was caused when my childhood dog Frisky hit the desk looking for a cookie and forever changed the way I heard the music. No one needs to know that but me, but to me it is important.
I can remember the first true chapter book I read up in the treehouse across the road from my childhood home. Being entranced in far away forest while on a hunt with the two dogs in Where The Red Fern Grows. Memories are tied up in what we read, listen to and enjoy. Will it be so for those coming up into the electronic world.
If you love books and bookstores like I do, PLEASE give this article below a read and think about your place in the decision making process about what will and won't be available to the next generations because of our convenience choices. As an author, I have seen, felt and feared the impact the online world has brought.
No, I don't have my head in the sand. I do know electronic books are here to stay.
I do know it is a great thing for many, but the prospect of the printed book becoming extinct saddens me.
I think curling up with an old fashioned paper book and a hot cup of tea or chai in my favorite chair is superior in EVERY way to the glow of electronic reading... I'm trying to envision reading an electronic picture book to my kiddies at bedtime and enjoying it as much as their chubby little fingers turning large, paper pages and delighting in being surprised again and again by what we found hiding behind the obvious in the illustrations... sure now they can manipulate the images with e books and that has its place too. I have some of my books on e media, so I am a part of that machine too.
But what i really want to rant about is is the dying retail establishment that is a part of our local community because of corporate greed.
The majority of books I buy, I buy at The Tattered Cover, NOT Barnes & Noble because the philosophy of B&N is right in line with this article about amazon.com and that is that the book is simply a unit of product, not something the bookseller is passionate about like in my local bookstore. The CEO and founder of B&N was once quoted early on that if he had picked tools instead of books he would have had the same impact and effect... hmmm, what does that say about the intrinsic reason we read? A BOOK IS NOT WIDGET! A book is something a human being creates to reach other human beings with. A hammer gets a job done, but a book changes a corner of a human.
The local bookstore has access to the same data base of books and can get them in roughly as fast as amazon can ship it to us. YES, we pay a little more for them and in my opinion, we should, because it is a potential life altering tool and often is accompanied by someone who has as much passion about reading as me, so it is a service, a local service.
IF you want authors, bookstore owners and those who still believe in literature changing our world, then it is a very low cost to keep the lights on in a physical place.
Full disclosure, YES, I have bought books on the internet, but it is a tiny percentage of my overall book purchases. YES, I have read two books on my iPad, YES, it was a convenience while hiking a stair master at the gym and other multi-tasking events, BUT, I personally have likely read THOUSANDS of paper based books, so two is not a big deal...
Our world is changing, but here is a parallel to what I am bringing: If you don't want to have three choices for dinner, those being chains that can compete because of deep corporate pockets and feed the masses over salted and over processed fast food and change their menus frquently to keep the masses coming, then eat at the mom and pop, who are actually preparing food that is good for you. Example near me Big Box Italian restaurant or Big Bill's Pizza who have become an awesome part of the south denver community and serve the best calzone, hands down, I've ever eaten. There simply is NO comparison for quality and very little difference in cost.
Like with a local bookstore; the difference is I am purchasing from someone in my community that makes my community better. I have never been invited to do a book signing in cyberspace, but I did do the first children's book event in the Tattered Cover, Highlands Ranch, MY COMMUNITY showed up to champion me, the store and the joy of actually having interaction with the creator of the book they would read with their children at bedtimes and perhaps even someday that child will read that signed book with his or her own children, because it will mean something.
Joni Mitchell sang, "They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum..." I fear some day there will be book museums called libraries where the old fashioned paper products will be showcased.
Here is a link to the article that got my head a'spinning and got me to thinking about hoarding more paper books, in case there is soon a shortage... Do me a favor. Go to a local mom and pop bookstore sometime in the next few weeks and see why it is more than just a place to go buy something. Note how if your little reader asks a true bookseller a question about pirates, aliens and princesses his or her eyes will light up as ten books come to mind and then watch as they lead your little reader to the section where their eyes will light up and then you will see why a mouse and a click shouldn't put that out of business.
When you understand why someone like the owner of The Tattered Cover opened her doors to the public and then you read what the CEO of amazon is doing to the way we look at something as important as books, I think you just might agree with me.