Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tears for Books

Yesterday, I was at a Barnes & Noble that will closing on the last day of the year. This was the closest major bookstore to where I lived much of the time growing up; my family was very excited when it opened, though it was still about forty-five minutes away. I wanted to visit it to "pay my last respects" before the closing. It was positively depressing to walk through isles of empty shelves and to hear the workers talking about how they wanted to be the ones to race to buy the last book (as opposed to the usual race to buy a store's first book). The sad thing, too, is that there really aren't any other bookstores in the area. At least I know that the Barnes & Noble next to where I now live is in no danger of closing.

But I know that more and more people are now buying eBooks or getting them off of Amazon (where they are usually less expensive). I imagine this is why there are more novelty kinds of items at bookstores, like leather journals and the beautiful leather-bound classics Barnes & Noble sells; even if you don't use them, they're nice to look at. It's all understandable, but I much prefer physical books.

I just can't wrap my head around a digital book as well. It doesn't sit in my mind properly. Plus, physical books are easier to flip through; I know that you can do all sorts of word or quote searches with digital material, but there is something nice about having to do the searching work yourself. It keeps the mind actively engaged and makes you remember things in a different way. I'm not opposed to digital books, but they just don't work for me.

I also take so much pride in my book collection. A big starter for it (apart from the picture books my brother and I had when we were young) was Little House on the Prairie. I slowly collected that series, setting them in a neat stack by my bed. A couple of classics like Little Women and Black Beauty followed, along with Ann Rinaldi books and eventually Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Today, I love the variety my stuffed shelves offer; there are many genres and time periods represented, all decked out in their different covers. It's a beautiful collaboration they make, one that little icons on a Kindle or iPad wouldn't be able to replace for me.

So fare thee well, Barnes & Noble. I shall lament thy loss.

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