Today I made a mad ridiculous dash to the library, in the rain, with the remnants of a stubborn cold, all in the name of retrieving a good book.
To be honest, I didn’t even know that it was going to rain, so the situation was a bit more dramatic then it needed to be because I failed to trust in the Weather Channel. Anywho, I’ve spent good money over the past few years buying up books to rack my bookshelf with, but with bookstores charging an arm and a leg for new literature and me having better things to spend my money on (like bills), I decided a library card would be the answer to all my problems. Eh, it actually made things a bit worse. After trekking in the rain for longer than I had expected with my wallet in tow, once I got to the library, I was asked if I had a copy of the lease to my apartment, or a rent check to prove that I actually lived where I said I did. They basically wanted my life story in exchange for a book. I had neither of those things and was pretty pissed off as the lady at the front desk looked at me, dripping water all over the place, and had no sympathy for my trek. As I headed out looking for a taxi, I thought to myself, “See, this is the s**t that makes people want to go buy a Kindle, read everything online and leave this whole book business behind.”
But honestly, that was just an overreaction for the moment. I honestly LOVE books. Tangible books that is. I’m from the old school where as a kid you’d get accelerated reader points, buttons, stickers and pizza for checking out and reading books. I love the smell of a new book. I love throwing a book in my bag and pulling it out on a longer-than-expected train ride. I love physically passing a good read on to a friend, family member or co-worker and have them tell me they loved it. Most importantly, I like to throw the book on my shelf to remind myself that I successfully tackled another complex novel (and to show other people, YES, I can read *winks*). But more and more people seem to be going in the opposite direction, riding the always growing technology wave and opting to do everything, including reading their favorite book of the moment, through some sort of gadget or device.
Amazon just broke a record for Kindle sales on Cyber Monday last year, and if E-readers aren’t enough for people, many are still reading their books on tablets. Hell, even Oprah’s Book Club has gone digital. My sister, the biggest reader I’ve known in life, asked for a Kindle when she received her Master’s last year and I cried on the inside (not really, but you get it). And I was honestly even a bit sad to find out that for my niece’s seventh birthday, she was given a Kindle. I guess her encounters with children’s literary classics like Jambo Means Hello and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, or Dr. Seuss, and Roald Dahl joints will be introduced to her through the Internet. With Borders done and Barnes & Nobles claiming they’re going to start closing more and more of their stores in the next few years, it’s becoming pretty clear that tides are shifting.
I recognize that we’re in a time and place where most people can do everything online (watch movies, watch television, get news, weather, pay bills and more), but for some reason, I think I’d always hoped that small, foldable paperbacks and hardcovers that you take the paper packaging off of before sharing with a friend would continue to be the preferred method of reading. But it seems that convenience is what’s getting people to change it up. I can’t lie, even I find that it’s faster for me to read my bible verses on my phone while on the way to church or in church then to lug my beloved but heavy bible in the green zipper case with me.
But as my mother would say, there will always be a few people who would rather pick up a book as opposed to picking up just another electronic gadget out of the many they already have (that might have a new upgraded version the moment you blink). And despite my beef with my local library, I’ll continue to be part of that group, bunny earring pages and tearing up paperback editions of Junot Diaz and Octavia Butler as long as I still have the opportunity to. With everything already headed online, can we keep just one thing in its original classic format? Probably not…but it never hurts to hold out hope.