Recently I took a trip to my local Barnes & Noble bookstore for a slow cooker cookbook, which went against my newest promise to myself. I have many such promises: cut back on sugar, garden more, make a dent in my ever-growing stack of reading. The bookstore promise is a little different; my husband was in on this one.
He reminds me occasionally that we posses a robust collection of cookbooks, worthy of a card catalogue, and they are only occasionally used. The irony here is that I really like to cook, but find I hardly have the time. So in I go for one to compliment my new slow cooker, a desperate attempt to make dinner-making easier. As in, I don’t even have to be there for it to be cooking. Genius! I find a great one, repleat with sufficient pictures and make my way to the cash wrap.
On my way I notice the people in the store posses an unusual contentment about them. Customers everywhere are loitering the racks and have a peaceful, even happy feeling exuding from them. These people are happy to be shopping for books. Why is this note worthy? Well, it might not be, except for that I am planning on buying my first e-reader soon, which will make trips to the bookstore another in the growing list of warm, fuzzy memories; like all my childhood ‘80’s songs that are now considered oldies. Since I am late to this party of Kindles, iPads and Nooks, what does this mean to the future of bookstores?
Of the bookstores that were present in my community when I was growing up, only two still exits - they were all “mom and pop” stores. Heck, even the Borders in my county went belly up last year. This feels important to me because the phenomenon of e-reading will continue to grow for both necessary and sad reasons. First, if you are anything like me, you have run out of room to store more books. Our shelves are bowing under the pressure, literally. Those cookbooks are heavy - it’s all the pictures. And when you take into account the paper used in books, any good eco-concious person has to listen to their inner Gore, especially in my hood.
Yet, those last hold outs I wax nostalgic with over the smell of books and the feel of turning actual vs. virtual pages, serve as reminders to the benefit of standing against the virtualization of everything. Increasingly, we are more disconnected from reality. Another irony when you consider the proliferant reality shows to remind of us of what we are actually not doing ourselves. Or that products like the iPad and Kindle FIre are praised because of how realistic they simulate human perception through high definition, etc. By the way, I used my tree-killing paper Thesaurus to look up proliferant - it’s a real word.
So being that I am a therapist, I usually look for meaning in emotions, and seeing the happiness viscerally evident in that bookstore, it reminded me that this may be a dying form of happiness as the medium of paper books may wane over time, bowing to the electronification of our lives. That was totally not a word, just go with it.