June 27, 2012

Book 'Em

Beth and I went to the mall this weekend. We hate the mall. This particular mall, however, happens to be the home of a wonderfully delicious high-end restaurant so we put aside our biases for a few hours.

Say what you want about the economy. People in our area haven't gotten the news. As we discovered after dinner while wandering the mall in search of presents for Mia's rapidly approaching birthday, the place was packed. And not just packed with teenagers cruising H&M, Abercrombie and Hollister. No, people were buying stuff. Lots of stuff. The place with the fewest paying customers - or customers in general - was the bookstore. And we found this out not because we actually needed a book but because we needed a restroom.

The bookstore we visited - a two-story Barnes & Noble - was empty. Half of the ground floor was devoted to Nooks. The remainder of the store was filled with massively spaced-out shelves, arranged to hide the fact that their inventory was nowhere close to the volume of books they stocked five years ago. I'm part of the problem. I used to go to bookstores once a week. These days I end up in one every three or four months. When I find something I like the looks of, I break out my phone, take a picture of the cover, and download the ebook when I get home. I'm afraid the bookstore is a dinosaur. I'm sad about that but I'm also realistic. Sure, I miss turning paper pages of a bound book but I can open my iPad and - almost instantly - get nearly any book I want. That's amazing. That's cooler than having a hover-car or a jetpack.

The honest and sad truth? The only reason people go to bookstores anymore is to pee.

How do you consume books?

Posted by Chris at June 27, 2012 7:18 AM

I refuse to give in to the e-books. Nothing can replace the smell and the feel of a real book, turning pages...stocking my bookshelf in my living room, pretty coffee table books...I used to keep every book I ever bought with hopes of having an actual library room in our house. Since i know that is not going to happen I get most of my books from the library now. When I think about how much I used to spend on books I don't know how I paid my mortgage and bought books! Now they are all free! I can't see paying money for an e-book when I can get it for free at the library. I have such a huge list of books I want to read, I can request it one day and pick it up the next. I always have at least 5-6 books checked out, when i return one, I get another. Plus I still have my emergency stock of books I have bought and never read should I ever run out.

Posted by: Lisa at June 26, 2012 7:42 AM

Before e-books, I rarely bought books in a bookstore (unless it was a used book store). I borrowed from the library or bought at library book sales. I now have a Kindle, but use it only when traveling. I still get most of my books from the library.

And today is Tuesday, so you have managed to time travel, which is as cool as a jetpack.

Posted by: Nancy at June 26, 2012 7:52 AM

eBooks are convenient, but I still find looking at books, seeing an interesting title or cover and flipping through to be a more interesting way of discovering new books.

I still get books from online recommendations, but if I am just browsing, it find it better (and more fun) to do it with physical books.

Posted by: Kaz at June 26, 2012 8:21 AM

I beg to differ. I work in an independent bookstore which sells only new books. Last October we moved from one neighborhood in Lexington to another which better fits the book-buying demographic, and things are going really well.

Large chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble kind of suck, but if you're lucky enough to live in a town which has a smaller indie store, please do seek it out. Yes, e-books are a threat, but some indies can offer e-books via Google e-books (although Google is phasing this out, and the American Booksellers Association is in the process of finding a new supplier of e-books).

Customers often say to me that they would rather buy from us than from Amazon, that they want to hold a real book, and that kind of thing. There's also a very strong "Buy Local" movement in town, which may have a lot to do with it.

However, bookstores are important. They are "third places," places to socialize and discuss ideas and meet new people and authors and find out about books. You can't do any of that on Amazon. And I'd wager that your local bookstore is more of a third place than Barnes & Noble. That commercial for the Nook, where they say "Find it at your neighborhood Barnes & Noble" makes me roll my eyes, because B & N bookstores are NOT located in neighborhoods. They're located in malls.

As you can tell, I'm passionate about this. I don't begrudge you reading your books on an e-reader. I have a Kindle, which I use when I travel. However, please don't base your judgment on your "neighborhood" Barnes & Noble (and that's the last time I will mention that store in this comment).

Sure, we have a few people who come in the store only to pee (or poop, jeebus, I can't believe how many people poop in our bathroom), and others who come in to browse through a book and then use their phones to order it from Amazon. But the majority of our customers love what our store brings to the neighborhood and community at large. Bookstores are important, and they're not going away yet.

You can find a local indie store here: http://www.indiebound.org/

Thank you for reading my long-ass comment. :)

Posted by: Alison at June 26, 2012 8:25 AM

Since losing much of my vision with retinal detachments, I got a Kindle Fire, and I love it!~ Now I can actually read again.

Posted by: Maribeth at June 26, 2012 9:00 AM

I still like going to the library and checking out books with real pages. I dont have an Ipad, maybe that would be different, but I do have a kindle and I just do not like reading on that at all.

Posted by: linda at June 26, 2012 9:00 AM

I don't even own an e-reader. There was a time I would have wanted one, back when I lived in Chicagoland and commuted to work every day on Metra - but those days are gone, and I don't have any use for one. Even if I had gotten one, it would have been for commuting only. I would still curl up in a chair or in bed with a good book held in my hands. I'm a huge fan of bookstores and libraries. It's a pain to me that in this dinky town, we only have the latter.

Posted by: Julee at June 26, 2012 9:07 AM

I have recently rediscovered the public library and that's where I get my books these days. I don't have a kindle/nook/ipad yet simply because i've been able to acquire the books I want to read quite easily. I'd be more tempted if I still commuted. I love, love, love all types of bookstores and physically browsing through books. But I don't buy books for myself because I don't have room to keep them when i'm done, I generally don't re-read books, and I don't have a ton of money to spend on books. I do try to support The Bookstore when I can, but my purchases are usually gifts.

Posted by: laura at June 26, 2012 10:19 AM

I have a kindle but don't use it much. More because I am cheap rather than attached to the paper kind. I get most of my books via paperbackswap.com. It only costs the price of postage and a commitment to go to the post office to get books. Sometimes you have to wait weeks or even months for a new release but I have so many books to read, I don't mind waiting. I have also picked up some older hard to find stuff.

I like the kindle and if I buy a new book, it is usually for the kindle. I also look a couple of times a week at the free books to see if there is anything I am interested in.

Posted by: KarenT at June 26, 2012 11:12 AM

I have a kindle but don't use it much. More because I am cheap rather than attached to the paper kind. I get most of my books via paperbackswap.com. It only costs the price of postage and a commitment to go to the post office to get books. Sometimes you have to wait weeks or even months for a new release but I have so many books to read, I don't mind waiting. I have also picked up some older hard to find stuff.

I like the kindle and if I buy a new book, it is usually for the kindle. I also look a couple of times a week at the free books to see if there is anything I am interested in.

Posted by: KarenT at June 26, 2012 11:13 AM

I still read real books. Maybe someday I'll get an e-reader, but I don't want to. Taking my kids to the library (at least once a week) is one of my favorite things to do.

Posted by: akofaolain at June 26, 2012 11:30 AM

I have some books at home, bought at used bookstores, library sales, etc. I normally limit how much I pay for a paperback to 25 cents, and a dollar for a hardback. I have a Kindle, which is used for traveling, hospital visits, etc.

Most of my books come from the library. I use the "request and pick up" that they offer, and usually have 20 items in the queue. Sometimes I have to wait for a new release, but that's ok--I've got a ton of books on my list of wants.

This is much different from days gone by. I used to frequent bookstores and would buy, buy, buy. However, since I normally don't re-read a book, I don't really want to keep them. I Will visit a bookstore and keep a nonfiction (or reference) book, but I'll probably check Amazon first to see if I can get it a better price.

Posted by: bacioni at June 26, 2012 11:48 AM

We are actually getting a new Barnes & Noble here in Fredericksburg - due to open in Nov. I don't trust DRM, so I refuse to pay more than about $5 for a book on the Kindle. If I want to read a new release I still usually buy a real book. But I have been reading a lot of older and free stuff on the Kindle. And we make periodic trips to the used bookstores in the area too.

Posted by: COD at June 26, 2012 12:36 PM

I feel the exact same way. Once I got an ipad, I started using Kindle exclusively for reading. Of course my bookshelves are 5 books away from being full, so that helped the cause.

Also, mass market bookstore employees have become so rude. I refuse to step into B&N because of their customer service.

I still love going to independent bookstores to pick up a random book though, at least their employees seem knowledgeable and passionate about their products!!

Posted by: Angela at June 26, 2012 1:02 PM

I LOVE LOVE LOVE bookstores, libraries and anywhere else that has books...real books not those digital wannabes!

I've an iPad and yes, I've tried reading a book on it. It sucks....hurts my eyes, gives me a headache. And it's just not the same as the smell of a real book, the feel of a real book. I love my books.

And, I will more often than not purchase a book rather than check it out of the library. I know, bad, but I LOVE my books. I like to have them around! I'm just weird that way.

And a used or indi bookstore is my most favorite. All those well loved books in one place...and you can find books in a used bookstore that you won't find anywhere else.

I hope that bookstores/libraries don't go away before I do...I don't think I could handle it.

Posted by: cyndy at June 26, 2012 1:03 PM

I had stopped reading for a long time. Why? Books took up too much room, and (I'm lazy) I had difficulties getting to the library. Plus, I had problems finding books I wanted to read.

I started going to a fully online university that used a bunch of e-books. I signed up for a program at work where I got off 20 hours a week to attend school full time. Knowing I was taking 5 8 week long classes, I didn't want to read my e-books on the computer, so I got a kindle.

I cannot put the thing down. I have read so many books in the past year and a half, I amaze myself. I really missed reading. I forgot how good it was to get into a really good book. Also, the kindle is so much easier on my wrists, which are super weak anyways. It's great. I love my e-reader. I don't mind reading a real book, too, but the e-reader is a lot friendlier on my joints for the size books I tend to read.

Posted by: Kim at June 26, 2012 1:13 PM

still buy books when i can..but ...the convenience of an e book at 2am when you have insomnia and you can instantly buy the book you have been meaning to stop into the store to get is kinda hard to argue with... so is the fact that is syncs with my iphone so i can sneak in a few chapters when im get stuck somewhere unexpectedly..

Posted by: suicide_blond at June 26, 2012 2:18 PM

We were in B&N the other day because I wanted to check out a cookbook before I buy it. Husband browsed through the sci-fi, doing the same thing you do, finding the titles he wanted then getting them on Kindle later. Me? I'm still an old school analog book kind of girl. (He reads a LOT more than I do so the Kindle makes economic sense.)

But then he picked up a book and handed it to me.

"I can get this cheaper on Amazon," I said.

"But we just browsed THEIR shelves. Don't you feel a little douchey if you walk out without buying anything?"

We did buy that book he picked out. Plus 3 more from the bargain bin. I'm still buying my cookbook online but I feel a little less guilty now.

Posted by: oakley at June 26, 2012 2:27 PM

I'm laughing. I do the same thing. I wander B&N and take photos of books I want and then I download them onto my Kindle later. (I have an iPad as well, but prefer reading on my actual Kindle.)

I adore books. I really do. I'm also allergic to them. Reading or really touching them makes me break out in hives. It's the paper or the ink or both plus the dust they collect. The Kindle has been my best friend since it came out. My oldest got one for her 10th birthday and I'm considering buying my soon to be eight year old one for her birthday.

Posted by: Issa at June 26, 2012 3:16 PM

I like both the real books and e-books actually. I tend to read the "real" copy with fiction books, and non-fiction books on my iPad. For fiction books I'll download a lot of samples on my iPad and if I like it I'll get it from the library. I used to buy a ton of books but I don't have the room to do that anymore and I want to save the money.

I do like e-books for non-fiction because I can highlight and not feel bad about "messing up" the book, and can look up the definition of a word instantly.

But yeah, I'll never totally go to e-books, I wouldn't want to get my iPad messed up on the beach.

Posted by: Drew at June 26, 2012 4:16 PM

How do I consume books? Voraciously.

Posted by: Amy at June 26, 2012 4:21 PM

I go to the library ... a lot!!!!

Posted by: Heather at June 26, 2012 8:28 PM

Once upon a time, I swore I would never get a Kindle because I couldn't imagine reading without the smell, feel, and weight of a book... and the turning pages thing.

Then I received a Kindle for my birthday... and I haven't looked back. I love how I can read (damn near) ANY book I want ANYWHERE. It's small enough to fit in my purse and not weigh it down. It doesn't hurt my nose as bad as a big book does when it falls on my face after I doze off while reading in bed.

The ONLY thing I miss about actual books? The ability to QUICKLY and easily turn back the pages to another part of the book to check facts or reread a section to refresh my memory. Yes, I know you can do it on an e-reader, but frankly, I find it to be a pain in the ass to do.

These days, I prefer to read e-books... except for if I have to read a text book. I need to physically highlight, underline, and write in the margins in order to digest some of the information... so I stick to actual books when it comes to text books.

Posted by: ironic1 at June 26, 2012 10:33 PM

i do like to have something on my kindle app available to read in the middle of the night or while travelling but i also try to support my little local neighborhood bookstore by buying my children's books and presents there. i think it's possible to do both :)

Posted by: kati at June 26, 2012 11:18 PM

I don't go to a bookstore unless I need the book right now or I have a gift card. I like e-books, but used paperbacks are hella cheaper, so when I get a gift card for amazon, I get way more bang for my virtual buck with used books.

Posted by: Brooke at June 26, 2012 11:39 PM

I have recently purchased a few books via iBooks or my wife's Kindle account. I still can't get over the fact that ebooks are charged at the full price of an actual book. I can normally find the book cheaper at Target or Sam's, but then there's the fact that my bookshelf is overflowing into my second office chair.

So I have started my path to the dark side now, but it kills me to pay full price. The other thing that someone needs to invent is a place where I can take all of my previously bought books, give them to this business, and give me a copy of the ebook. If that were to happen, I would be using ebooks all the time.

Posted by: Rex at June 27, 2012 12:25 PM

I still read "real books" unless I'm travelling, in which case I'll load up my Kindle. I love holding an actual book in my hands. And bookshelves.

Posted by: sarah at June 28, 2012 8:21 PM

I have a Kindle and I use the Kindle app for my iPhone... Love them and use them mainly when I am out of the house. I will still get books to read at home and try to go to indie stores, but I usually hit Books a Million when I visit my parents. Still love the library too, though the one near me is a mildewy wreck so I can't stay long :(

Posted by: Sue R at June 29, 2012 9:36 AM

I'm firmly in the e-books camp! While I miss the feel and smell of a real book, the truth is, since I started knitting, I haven't been reading as much. With my Kindle, I can prop it up (without having to use a couple of heavy office supplies to keep it open that I just have to move and situate everytime I turn the page), or pull up the Kindle app/program on my laptop or my phone and read+knit to my heart's content. I've read more in the last 2 years since getting my Kindle than I did in the 5 years before I got my Kindle, combined! Plus I get to do two of my favorite things at the same time. :D

My library even offers ebooks through the Overdrive site/network, so if I can be patient, I can read the latest and greatest without spending a dime!

Posted by: Manda at June 29, 2012 1:41 PM