By Swimgirl October 9, 2012
I want those book stores back! The nostalgic smell of the home of new paper bounds filled with people flipping through the pages to find their perfect new keep. Or just casual browsers looking to wear off a buzz due to one too many cocktails consumed at the restaurant next store. Regardless of the venture to and from the place we all once new called the bookstore, there is something to be said about grabbing a book from a shelf.
But like many, in March 2011, I decided to go digital. I couldn’t wait for the UP’s man to deliver my soon to be new library in a box. I had visions for me and my Kindle with a built-in keyboard and 3G wireless download service. I would be able to order up a book from anywhere. Like while waiting in line at the License Bureau, in the privacy of my bathroom or beach bound in Belize, books were going to be at a touch of my finger tips.
They were to come to me immediately, with a lower “Kindled” price and I could even return them in the allotted time allowed. I could download a sample first to take a sneak peek and in the beauty salon, nobody would know what I was reading. Privacy at last. There would be no glare if reading in the sun and if I wanted to read at night, I could buy the leather Kindle cover with built-in LED light. Could this get any better? Could reading ever be more fun? You bet it could. Because over the course of the year and a half I had my Kindle, this is what I learned.
1) Don’t plan on going on vacation to read with your Kindle if you forget the charger. Last time I checked, if I had an “actual” book, I wouldn’t need to charge it up to continue reading. Yes this happened. 8 Shades into Grey I had to charge the battery while vacationing and charger less. Ladies, you know what this did to me…
2) Don’t plan on setting your alarm to get up to read on your Kindle before the kids are up. I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., on a Saturday, lit a fire, grabbed a blanket and my coffee. I was about to peacefully and quietly get absorbed into my latest downloaded book when the battery was completely drained. It took me nearly 30 minutes to get it charged up and by that time, pitter patter of little feet. Plans squashed.
3) When the Kindle dies, just throw it out! If the Kindle merely appears frozen, battery drained or non-responsive do not try to perform CPR. Even if you are tech savvy, when it’s dead, it is dead! Don’t let that Kindle screen with boy reading under the tree and power bar that is stuck give you a false sense of hope. That power up bar is flat lined. Get out the box the damn thing came in and bury the shit.
4) If you need a place to wear off a buzz, the Kindle cannot help you like a Bookstore could. The Kindle is not your saving grace when you have had one too many drinks and should not drive home just yet. You can attempt to download, “how to shake a buzz in 30” but good luck reading the lines. If you stroll into a bookstore, nobody is going to question why you are hanging out or browsing. You can wander from aisle to aisle or do laps around the children’s section, eventually you will lose that martini buzz your co-workers evoked on you. And if the ground moves below your feet, you are sandwiched between shelves that can cushion your fall. Heck, you can even take a nap on a lounger and pretend you a reading. Eventually, that after work buzz will get killed.
5) You cannot call your friends and say, “Hey let’s hang out around my Kindle and study. What? But you can gather a group and head to a bookstore to engage in a study group. If you want to bring your Kindle as a prop or to use as a lap pad, do it. But no Kindle is going to bring people together to study like a bookstore could.
6) You cannot register your child in the Kindle storytelling group on Tuesdays. Or any other day of the week. That’s right. There is no child’s craft and reading group being conducted over the Kindle air waves. Yet, at a bookstore, you can meet at a scheduled time to engage your children in a guided storytelling group to boost their love of reading. Just think, what does your child think when you bust out your Kindle to read? You better believe your toddler isn’t thinking, oh mommy loves to read, mommy loves books. No sir ree. That child is seeing a piece of equipment and thinking how can I use that as a drum set.
7) If you need a mommy break there is no telling your husband, I’m running down to the Kindle for a bit. There is no running anywhere because everything is at a touch of your fingertips. Every book, ever written known to man can be downloaded in an instant. So if you need to bail, your Kindle just killed that for you.
8) If you need a little title privacy, the Kindle is your guy. That’s about it. That’s what a Kindle is good for. But with that title privacy comes this; silence. Oh yes, exactly how you may want it. But where is the engagement from a friend, PTO parent or stranger? People do not come up to you and ask, “How is that book you are reading? Because you are holding a KINDLE not a book. There is no exchange of words or conversing about your latest read. It’s all secretive and shit.
9) If you are 25 Chapters into the Hunger Games and are parched and need a beverage but cannot stop to make yourself a latte, your Kindle cannot make one for you either. Yet, most bookstores gave birth to what’s called a cafe and if they are not with child, there probably is one in very close proximity. At the bookstore or near the bookstore, you can keep reading while you are walking over to a counter to ask for a beverage. You can’t download a latte to your Kindle.
10) When you need a good people watching fix, the Kindle cannot produce. Nope, nothing. Just perhaps a very bizarre screen saver picture of some famous author you never heard of. Interacting with or watching people is way more fun. Bookstores offer these kinds of events.
You could sit for hours and hours at a bookstore and just soak in the atmosphere. The people, the smell of paper bounds, the cafe espresso machine buzzing in the background and the casual encounter with a stranger. You could search for numerous magazines and probably even read the whole thing. You can properly skim a book rather than rely on the digital sample you get before the purchase.
You can plop little junior on Granddad’s lap and watch from afar as they share a memory over Gramps favorite childhood book. You could watch as the child points and glares at the characters. It is as if the characters are jumping off of the pages. At a bookstore you can meet the love of your life or run into an old friend. You can sit quietly, undisturbed on a lounger without needing an outlet and just read.
Kindle and all you Nooks and e-readers have kidnapped my beloved bookstores. I want them back and am willing to ransom my digital piece of no good device to have just one more chance to make the bookstores thrive again. So when I am old and gray I can take my grand kiddies to story time. I can meet my girlfriends for a latte and discuss big business, 50 shades style.
I can drop my soon to be teenage children off at your doors and know they are in a safe and good place to learn, gather and grow. I can rely on you if my purchase went bizerk but then again that doesn’t happen in actual print. There is no such thing as a book recall or problem with short circuiting. At a bookstore I can surround myself with authors from all over the world that took the time to engage us in genres ranging from fantasy to fiction and beyond.
Dear friends, if you still have a bookstore in your neighborhood, wether big box chain or small mom and pop resale shop, buy from them. Buy books in print and give them as gifts. Share a moment with a loved one or contact an old friend to meet there. Engage your children in what we once called a bookstore. Maybe just maybe, they will stay open. Maybe they will come back to our neighborhoods. Maybe people will realize the goodness in old school print and bury their Kindles.
That is what I did. At first not by choice. I really thought the Kindle would be the next best thing since Starbucks on every corner. It wasn’t. It was a short-lived relationship and I am delighted, not at first, that my Kindle bit it. The thing froze up and after three online chats (thanks but no thanks Jovi), 109 power up attempts, two phone calls and me throwing it across the room, I buried that thing. I want nothing to do with any e-reader type techno device ever again. Occupy a bookstore for me. Buy something in print and keep bookstores alive!
If you are willing to take the occupy a bookstore pledge, like below and give this unworthy lover of bookstores hope!
- What’s missing from the Kindle and Nook? Support for printed books (reviews.cnet.com)