I still love tangible books. I love dog-earing pages for future reference and I love sliding my bookmark in between the pages to save my place. I love being able to lend one to my sister when the read is worthwhile. And I love sitting with my daughter when she reads one with colorful illustrations that help narrate the story.
A few days ago Barnes and Noble announced that they plan to reduce the number of stores by twenty every year for the next decade. Their revenue over the holiday season was down over the last year and, as you may already know, print book sales everywhere have been down. That struck as both sad and disturbing. Even though they still made a ridiculous amount of money, I wondered if the largest brick and mortar book chain could possibly be slowly slipping away.
An author I follow said that she wasn’t surprised by B&N’s losses. When I told her that I still buy print, she revealed that she only buys digital and has given up print altogether. The books she does own are collecting dust on her shelves. I was surprised at her admission, but I must admit that my last six book purchases have been digital. I really feel like a hypocrite declaring that, but in my defense, those books were only offered as ebooks.
I live in a small community and B&N is the only game in town as far as print books ever since Borders gave up and rolled out. Well, that’s not exactly true. We do have a large used bookstore. Or there’s always Target or Walmart, where the selection is laughable unless if you’re looking for the latest Snooki release. So, no, there isn’t much of an option around here if B&N rolled out too.
Back to the questions in the first paragraph: I do own both a Nook and a Kindle. I have the original Nook (black-and-white, non-touch screen) which I haven’t used since I got the Kindle Fire (color, touch screen, apps). I still buy print. I enjoy going into B&N soaking in all the new releases. The clearance section is my favorite, where I’ve sometimes been introduced to authors I’ve never read before. And that oh-so-wonderful library is a great place to take my kids to help meld their relationship with reading and books.
To be honest, I feel scared that real books will someday disappear. That people will forget how a book feels. How it smells. How is feels to browse the stacks. I’m sure that won’t be happening tomorrow but if people are already giving up on them, when will their existence end? I’m certain record companies never expected the 8-track, cassette and now the CD to slowly fade away. I’m sure Kodak never expected film processing would cease to exist. And I’m pretty sure Newsweek never imagined the time would come that they would no longer offer their product in print form.
The future is unpredictable. Nothing is promised. Let’s just hope books won’t become extinct in our lifetime.
So, what say you? Have you completely converted to ebooks? Or are you still in love with those seams, spines and covers?