I find myself in a hotel in Kentucky for the first night of Spring break. In the lobby, along with several horse-related art works, some nicely-appointed leather chairs, and the obligatory bar/meeting space, are several shelves filled with books. It made for a nice visual, and I snapped a picture of a few shelves before inspecting some of the titles.
I happened upon one title from the publisher that I work for, dated from fifty years ago, and I considered all of the changes in the publishing industry since then. The rise of ereaders and the decline of the traditional bookstore are but two of the challenges that didn’t exist a half-century ago. The idea of putting words onto a page was taken for granted in 1963, but not anymore. Words on a screen have since come along, and things are changing as a result.
I spent a few moments paging through some of the titles, and appreciating the tactile sensation that a book can provide. Ereaders are wonderful things, but they’ll never be able to recreate that. Likewise, no electronic gadget could match the visual appeal of bound volumes sitting side-by-side on a shelf.
I’m no Luddite. I can see that the reading experience is evolving, but I’m also confident that books themselves will continue to be meaningful. To be honest, I can’t envision a world without them.
My eight year-old daughter simply loves to read. And one of the things that comes with reading, it seems to me, is a proclivity to write. Naturally, this is something that I’d like to encourage in whatever way I can.
When I came across this poem–buried in one of her folders at the annual end-of-the-school-year backpack cleanout–I knew that it had to see the light of day, somehow. And so, I proudly present my younger daughter’s first published poem (since there’s a “Publish” button that I have to click to share this with the world):
It was a beautiful March night.
The wind was whirling around me.
I was doing cartwheels in the sand.
I was walking by the shore.
I looked down at the sand and…
A dead fish!
I’m out of here!
I’d call this a pretty promising start, but I admit that I’m a bit biased. And now it’s out there, for all the world to see. Others will follow, as they are discovered.
There was a Borders store not too far from where I live in Chicago. I won’t say that I went there a lot, but I liked the fact that it was there. And now it’s gone, and I miss it.
I took this picture when I was in a Dollar store the other day. It just looked strange to see so many books piled up on top of each other, waiting for someone–anyone–to take the books off their hands.
I’m not suggesting that there’s a causal connection between Borders closing down and big stacks of books in the Dollar store. But the people who go into a bookstore are probably prepared to spend more than a dollar to buy a book. And when new, hardcover books can be had for a dollar, it puts downward pressure on the price of books everywhere.
E-readers are probably going to do to traditional publishers what digital cameras have done to Kodak, and what the internet has done to newspapers. Books won’t ever go away, but stacks of books in a dollar store can’t be a sign of good times ahead for publishers and all of the people in the industry, either.