Monday, November 16, 2009

Buy Some Books

Yesterday began the first Independent Bookstore Week in New York City. There will be parties, free cookies, bagels, readings, and more at indie bookshops all over the city--check out the calendar here.

Just in time, stomping on the grave of The Book, Union Square's Barnes & Noble has removed a big section of books by the front doors and replaced them with this Nook display:



The "Nook" is B&N's answer to the Kindle, the other book killer on the market. What makes the Nook so special? You can get designer covers for it by Kate Spade, Jack Spade, and Jonathan Adler. This aspect makes the Nook especially appealing to people who shop on the New Bleecker Street, and to the Sex & the City crowd, who will no doubt clamor for the Kate Spade "Jane Street" cover in hot pink.

In the marketing photo below, the glasses seem to signify, "Hey, just because you like hot pink stuff doesn't mean you're a dummy." The embossed text on the cover reads, "She kept her nose in a book," while on the back it's "and her head in the clouds." Which says to me, "Hey, you're a bookish dreamer, Baby! You're still a little girl at heart and what's wrong with that? Now, let's download the latest digital offering from Candace Bushnell and get that faux-Golightly feeling all over."



Whether or not these are attractive covers is not the point. The point is: The Nook is not a book, and if you stick your nose into it, it won't feel much different than an iPhone or a laptop.

As Nooks, Kindles, and iPhones take over our attentions, we lose our ability to read in depth (you are scanning this screen right now), actual books will be relegated to props in trendy bar windows and condo lounges, while bookstores--including Barnes & Noble--will vanish. Our minds and our lives will be more impoverished for it.

Until that "Book-apocalypse" day comes, go visit an indie and buy their books--before it's too late. Here's IBNYC's extensive list of indie bookshops in the city. I have definitely not visited all of them. Those that I have visited, and covered here, you can find at the following links:

17 comments:

Alex in NYC said...

Amen, JM, amen!

EV Grieve said...

I can't remember the last time that I saw someone under the age of 30 reading a book on the bus. Everyone in that demographic is texting or talking on a smart phone...playing a video game...listening to music....

To the Moon, Alice! said...

As much as I love technology, I absolutely refuse to buy anything but actual books. Unless they stop printing books entirely, I will never stop buying them.

Barbara Hanson said...

Grieve, I see readers of all ages on the 4, 5, and 6. The F, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but I think you're overreacting and kind of off the mark with your vitriol. While I'm not a fan of these devices, I'm all for anything that gets people to read more. If it means someone will read "War & Peace" for the first time because they don't have to lug around some heavy book, then I think that's cool.
By all means, go out and support your independant booksellers, buy more books! The point is to educate and enlighten oneself not to just buy things to label oneself a trend-hound or east village luddite.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i hear what you're saying, Anon, and getting people to read more is a good thing. i'm not sure eReaders are delivering on that promise, and much will be lost if they do take over.

i'll be posting more on this issue this week, but studies are coming out saying that, while things like blogs and Facebook are getting young people, in particular, writing more, their writing skills are not improving. also, the reading that's done on electronic devices tends to be shallow reading, not depth reading.

so while they may appear to read War & Peace, it ends up being more like distracted scanning.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this criticism seems way off base (and very petty). Does it really matter to you how people read? I don't have one of these, but I can certainly see the convenience. I love having all of my music on one device (iPhone), so this makes sense to me. Do you also criticize people for carrying iPods rather than separate CDs/tapes/albums, etc.? In the end, doesn't it make buying and reading books easier and more convenient?

Jeremiah Moss said...

being concerned about a culture's literacy is far from petty. i like my iPod, too. but it's vitally important that we pay attention, and be vigilant, about what can be lost for the sake of convenience.

kingb said...

i have a feeling that many people will buy cool gadgets like this and stock up on eBooks since its so easy to do so, but will they actually read them?..and if so, will it be in depth reading or merely scanning like JM says. The few times i've tried eBooks it simply hasn't been the same experience as the real thing and I've gone back to traditional books...but then again, i'm not cool

Anonymous said...

My late mother always said: gadgets are meant to be replaced, and these things will have to be replaced in a few years. Of course, we now use the word "update". A book is true love; these things are more like a vibrator. Wish Capote was here to give us his opinion on these new toys.

Queens B said...

Hmmm, absolutely NO mention of the library here. If I'm going to buy a book, of course I'd prefer an indie bookseller over a big box retailer, but we really shouldn't forget to help save our underfunded libraries, which aside from housing vast collections of the printed word, provide many more important services, social and otherwise. I'd personally rather donate $10 to the library every time I borrow a book and know it's going to help keep knowledge free and available to all members of society, rather than spend that amount or more on a book that'll sit on my bookshelf, seen by no one most of the time.

I understand that buying books gets the authors paid, and of course that's important, too, and I'm sure all the people reading your blog have seen the inside of the library, I just wanted to make sure there was SOME mention of libraries in the post or comments here.

Also wanted to say, as a response to one of the comments here, that I'm well under 30 (and very well-adjusted, believe it or not), but the reason you don't see me reading on the subway is because I ride a bike everywhere. I assure you, however, if I could read on my bike, I would. And I don't own an ipod, or a smart phone, I can actually still sit quietly with my own thoughts and not get bored (crazy, I know!). I choose to live in NYC, a still very vibrant city, why would I choose to shut myself off in my own selfish little world rather than take the opportunity to interact with the interesting (although rather less, these days) world around me?

Anonymous said...

I thought a nook cant read, so a nook cant cook..so what good is a hook cook book?

Chris said...

We all have this emotive thing about not wanting the loss of our beloved books. However, books weren't always here, they took a large slice of the storyteller's market - but the world didn't stop turning. Maybe we all just need to get out more!

If we didn'r embrace change and work with it we'd all still be living in caves.

Chris Warren
Author and Freelance Writer
Randolph's Challenge Book One - The Pendulum Swings

Henry Lawson Books said...

Ereading gives me a headache. An old fashioned bent covered book for me.

laura said...

i am a bit confused. are you saying they may STOP printing books? or just close the stores? (replaced by online order). what it your perceived time frame? i live in a third world country. theres only one book store in a gigantic city like an hour away. culture here is for the rich only! (if they are educated, & few are). yes i can order any book i want, they can get it from the publisher. (3-6 week wait). books are list price plus like 35-50% additional import tax! i used to get my books from "strand" when i would visit NYC. always publishers price, like 1/2 off for a new copy. & super cheap for used i am paying more than double list price to get a book sent here!! i havnt been to the US in like over a year& half. these comments make me think i should invest a few hunred $s & order some books! (they cost the same high prices regardless if strand sends them. i called to compare). my nervous system gets burnt out from the screens! i wake up exhausted, confused from my lap top. the motion, the light, i hate it! i have to do "controlled reading" how sad. i take tranquilzers to sleep! theres so much great stuff on the web, & i lose out. dont want a ebook or kindle what ever. i spend double now for a vogue magazine, just to relax & read. commentors: what is your take? should i "invest" before printing disappears? maybe i should buy a nice pen before they stop that too!

hartford said...

my friends are successful novelists. some use word processor, others long hand. i wont mention names but someone i know did his first book while listening to soap operas. t.v. always on, go figure. (typewriter, long ago). interesting fact: most of america reads on a SIXTH grade level. (i read it in the n.y. times). they also said in abe lincoln's day, the average level was 18 yrs. but i wonder how many people were even literate to begin with. basically i wish everyone would shut up. as long as they text, i dont care what "level" they are on. someday paper books will be for the elite. or the very old. they will be private clubs & expensive reading rooms w/tea. the yearly membership fees will be staggering. just saying...

Anonymous said...

This seems to be very condescending with little real understanding of the positive aspects these readers offer. I am 24 and my room seconds as a library – filled with books that I have read time and time again. And my library card is well used. But I was happy when the Nook came out. I have an hour bus ride to and from work every day. Would you rather me read on the Nook or listen to my headphones? You know that most people are not carrying a 1000 page book on three different buses every day. And the Nook looks nothing like the iPad; the ink screen helps me concentrate because it looks somewhat like a real book. For a generation that was taught to embrace technology this reader just offers books without the weight. Maybe you should try reading a book on one before judging those who choose to add eBooks to their already established libraries.