Recently, my American Lit students and I were discussing the news that Barnes & Noble are set to close some of their brick and mortar stores this year. I expected them to be non-plussed by the news, but instead, it warmed my heart to learn that they had genuine concern for the fate of the good, old-fashioned book and for the book-shopping experience. Even the students with tablets were adamant that there is nothing like holding the real deal in your hands or like flipping the pages one after the other, in eager anticipation for what comes next.
I am a bit of a technology addict, so I have nothing against the iPad or the Kindle or the Nook or any devices of that ilk, but when I am laying on the couch late at night or sitting under an umbrella on the beach on a lazy summer day, there is nothing better than an actual book. I love walking through a book store with Jude, sipping a cup of hot tea, disappearing into a maze of shelves. I’ve made some great discoveries there in those stacks, picking up a book on impulse and devouring it over the next couple of days–or even hours. It’s sad to me that such a comfortable little pleasure is fading into the ether, that Jude’s book shopping will be relegated to online stores.
And there’s that deep, secret part of me that feels sad to know that if I ever do finish my novel and sell it, I won’t get to visit a store and see it sitting there amongst the other titles.
Yesterday, I devoted a post to Jude’s affection for the iPad, but I am super proud to confirm that as much as he loves his share of kid-themed apps, he adores real books. He is forever pulling them from his bin and bringing them over to me:
“Mommy?” he’ll say before cozying up in my lap and waiting for me to begin. Sometimes, he’ll flip the pages, and others, he’ll point out the illustrations he notices along the way, but most often, he’ll sit patiently and listen as I attempt my best and most cheerful narrative voice.
As an English professor and as a writer, I want Jude to feel the way I do about books. I want him to love that feeling of getting lost in a story, to find himself so utterly delighted by the words on the page that hours pass like moments, and he’s fighting to keep his eyes open just until he can get to the end of the chapter.
I know that I have no control over what he will and will not enjoy, but I hope that I can inspire him in some way to appreciate writing and reading. I think we’re off to a good, good start, but the longer bookstores can stay in business, the more opportunities he’ll have to enter the labyrinth and to discover the pleasure of wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall books.
Are you a fan of e-books, or do you prefer the good, old-fashioned paperback/hardcover variety?