Nooks vs. Books

Well, I lied…actually this blognote is about Kindles, but “Nooks vs. Books” sounded better. But no matter the heading, it appears that the Kindle e-reader was a popular Christmas gift this year. The Amazon website proclaims this: “Kindle is our #1 bestselling item for two years running. It’s also the most-wished-for, most-gifted, and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon.” And even though Jeff Bezos does not provide any data to back up this amazing claim, well, it must be true because he says so.

And…okay…I have to admit that I have one myself & that it is pretty nifty. It’s easier to read in bed with & it’s handy to take along for reading at airports, coffee shops, laundromats & dentist waiting rooms (if one can concentrate enough to read in a dentist waiting room).

I have always loved books & I have a ton of them & even though I am weary of moving them from place to place (just like that collection of long-playing vinyl records from long ago), I can’t imagine being totally without them.

I grew up in bookish family — both of my parents loved to read (& still do) — & one of the nicest things that my Mom ever did for me when I was 6 or 7, was to take me to the local branch to get me a library card. I used it well.

My brother loved books also & we had many browsing-in-bookstores experiences over the years, from the nearly extinct privately-owned bookshops to the 20th-century mega-stores. There was Martindale’s in Santa Monica & Brentano’s on Wilshire & that funky little place on the Venice Boardwalk. Why even the last time I saw him, we walked over to a Barnes & Noble in Culver City after we had had dinner out together.

And I have had my haunts as well…my own Life-in-Bookstores, so to speak. One of my faves was Bookworks in Pacific Grove (until it transformed itself into a kind of glorified souvenier shop) where you could sit at wooden tables & drink a brew, chat, read or listen to classical music. And my all time favorite is a used bookstore up in Seattle called “Twice Told Tails.” Not only did they have gobs of mouth-watering books, but also an Army of good old-fashioned bookstore cats.

(Interestingly enough I currently live in apartment over a (out of my price-range) rare-books store where a lovely tiger tabby sleeps in the window!)

So, probably needless to say, like so many others of my generation, I love the smell & feel of books. I like to highlight & underline & write notes in them as if I am actually going to ever look at them again. I like to turn pages.

So this Kindle thing is a mixed-bag.

I was reading an article about this emerging Kindle-Is-King phenomenum yesterday & in the comment section, someone wrote that he didn’t see the point in spending $149 for a Kindle & then have to spend more $$$ to download books that you purchase but DON’T REALLY OWN.

And wow…it took me a bit to get my brain around that one…. Can a person “own” a book in cyberspace?? You can’t print them out, but you can store them in, like, 263 places…your Kindle, your smart-phone, your netbook, your desktop. But do I “own” those mostly free or low-priced poetry & literature books on my Kindle, or are they just like so much pixel dust?

Of course, that got me to thinking…& the bottom line, for me anyway, is that I don’t even really “own” the page-turners on my bookshelves either. There will come a time when I won’t have enough time left on the planet to re-read my favorites. And then when I take off for that cozy bookshop/coffeehouse/cat sanctuary in the sky, I won’t be taking any of my collection with me.

Whatever’s left will be donated or recycled or tossed or perhaps fought over. (A fight over a Hebrew-English dictionary? Doubtful….) My brother’s HUGE collection of books was dispersed among family members & donated to the Out of the Closet thrift shop.

So I guess I don’t really own all my MP3 music downloads either…nor did I ever really own those stacks & stacks of records.

I guess the thing that horrifies me the most is that there is now a whole generation of kids who will grow up reading mostly on e-readers. They will never understand why us old folks like to hold & smell books, just like they don’t understand why some of us miss the crackly, popping sound of a well-played Beatles record.

But…so it goes. Those of us of a certain age get to live in both worlds — the cyberspace zone & the bookstore zone. And when someday my books are dispersed among new “owners,” perhaps one of them will be a 30-year-old who has never experienced the joy of holding a book before.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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About pjh95811

I am a writer and poet living in California. I love cats, dogs, nature, poetry, spirituality and the Pacific Ocean.
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