Wednesday, September 19, 2012


We like to say, "Things are changing." But truthfully, things have changed. 

This week I was in the local B&N. It is a fairly large store in the mall in our town of over 100,000. 

B&N had filled the store with games and calendars. Children's books and toys accounted for probably a third of the space. The mystery section which used to be two long bookcases of several sections each on both sides, has shrunk. 

There is one small bookcase with books on both sides. Some whole shelves are filled with a single author, most notably J.D. Robb. 

I thought about my own reading habits. It had probably been at least three to six months since I had been in the local B&N. I was in a B&N in a town nearby a while back. I was sitting reading and drinking latte while my wife went to a quilt club meeting. 

I order almost all my books as e-editions. The hardback books I buy, I buy from Mystery Guild. My wife still likes bound books. She can page back and forth through them and read the end first, something she almost always does. But I like deciding to buy a book and getting it in the flick of an eye over the airwaves.

We live in a small retirement house. It is great to have shelves full of books on some computer in the cloud. If that cloud-bound bookshelf dissolves when I die, who cares? My son won't have to try to figure out what to do with all my books. We used to have bookcases in our house. My office was lined with bookshelves filled with books. Now I'm thinking of getting rid of my one remaining small bookcase. 

I know it pains some people to hear me say these things. But it is not just that things are changing. In a substantial way, things have changed.


pattinase (abbott) said...

It really depresses me. Although I have a kindle, I really don't read anything on it except books I can't get in the usual old ways. Having said that, the majority of books I read are from the library. So I am not helping the situation. I only finish about 25% of books I start. If I bought them, would I persist? I am not sure but it would be $$ to try it out.

Joe Barone said...

My wife prefers books for the reason I gave in my post. She likes to leaf back and forth and read parts before she goes back to start at the first and read the book.

David said...

I always say that you can’t smell an e-book. Somehow the mean streets of whatever locale the story is set seems more atmospheric when you open up an old paperback from the 50s or 60s and the yellowed pages are marinated with that musty scent. It just smells like mystery and intrigue . . .

Joe Barone said...

Good point, David. I do hope the day comes when some out-of-print but excellent (maybe even little known) authors and stories can be reprinted in ebooks and become more readily available to all.

I too prefer books in many ways, but darn it, ebooks are so convenient for just straight through reading.

Cathy said...

I'm getting more and more of my ARCs as digital editions, so I am using my eReader quite a bit, *but* nothing will replace physical books for me.

That said, I am the one who had over 6,000 books in the house and whittled that number down to under 2,000. I had two main reasons: (1) I'm not a re-reader, and books should be read and enjoyed, not hoarded. (2) It occurred to me what a monumental task I was leaving a loved one when I shuffle off this mortal coil. 2,000 books are still a lot for someone else to deal with, and I have a feeling that the number will grow smaller.

Joe Barone said...

What a wonderful and sensitive comment. In a way, I don't think anything can replace physical books for any of us who have loved books over a lot of years. But we too have given thought to what our son and his wife will have to clear out when the time comes.


Cathy said...

I've had to go through all my mother's things, and I've had to go through my grandparents' home of over sixty years to get it ready for sale while my grandfather went to a nursing home. The older I get, the more I understand that what I've accumulated over the years isn't what's important. What's important are the people I love. It's amazing how your home can be a haven, a place of peace, and not have to be filled with "stuff."

Joe Barone said...

Cathy, Yes. We had the experience of working through a lot of family stuff in someone's house too. One thing I admired about my mother is that she tried to pare things down so it wouldn't be so hard for my sister and I. I hope we can do the same for our son.