Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bookstores

With the loss of Borders in 2011, one must ask the question: What is going to happen to the bookstore? I read Publisher's Weekly and have noticed an alarming trend where more people are purchasing e-books than ever before; those numbers just keep rising. It concerns me, not because I am afraid I will never again be able to lay my hands on a tangible book, but because I will miss the experience of the bookstore. If you are in love with the printed word and the experience, you will understand. If you are not concerned about losing the experience, then you have never had it.

Here is what I love most about being in a bookstore:

Walking through the door is like taking a step through a portal into another world. You become instantly warm from the luminescent lighting and the camaraderie you feel with every person browsing the shelves or losing themselves in a book while nestled in the large, leather chairs and couches. Your senses are bombarded with familiar, comforting scents like coffee and newsprint. You can, at times, hear the laughter of children as they traipse through their imaginary world of princesses, dragons, and fearless knights or play with Bad Kitty or the dear sweet Little Llama.

Then, the whispers start. Every book on every shelf is calling your name, whispering the promise of their story in your ear, and telling you to, "Pick me! I can take you places you've never been!" You walk along the shelves with your heart racing, possibly touching some of the spines as you move through the rows; listening, feeling, getting excited about what you can learn from the ink printed on the pages. You are delirious and everything becomes a bit hazy in your mind. You know you went there for a new adventure but can't decide between the love story or the one about government conspiracies; perhaps the one on this shelf about kings and queens long dead...

You lift a book from the shelf and weigh it in your hand; feeling the story move against your skin. You flip it open to the jacket flaps and read a synopsis to decide if it's the kind of story you want to read this week. You inhale with your nose close to the pages and allow the scent of ink on paper to take over your senses. You feel the crackling of the glue that binds the pages together. It is intoxicating to you because you love books. You may even be of the type to sleep with one under your pillow so it can whisper its tales to you while you dream.

You make your choice; not after one or two or even three books that you perform this ritual with, but after many. You bring your carefully chosen friend - because that's really what a book is to a reader - to the counter and pay, then head home with your new friend held close; excited about what the pages will bring. When you arrive home, you lovingly unwrap your book from the bag and sit down, perhaps with a cup of coffee or tea, and begin your journey.

I am at a loss when I think of a time when I cannot perform that ritual. I don't want to shop for books via a cold piece of metal that connects me to a www something or other. I want the heat of the book in my hand, its pages giving off a little bit of life that I can absorb just by holding it.

How about you? Do you prefer a tangible book or an e-reader? Have you ever experienced the phenomenon described above?

I am eager to know, drop me a line.

It is just past 9am so I am running a little late. I am forgiving myself today because I managed to pour out almost SIX thousand words yesterday. I had my story firmly in my grasp. Today feels the same... I hear the buzz of the characters in my ears...

Until next time, WRITE ON!!

Jo

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