Ode to the Book

The book slams shut. She sighs as she holds the finished novel close to her aching chest. A story so beautiful, she didn’t want it to end. Days later, as she passes the book on the shelf, she nostalgically runs her fingers across it’s spine, remembering the emotional journey within… But I digress.

The debate over use of electronic reading devices may seem so ‘last year.’ However, it is a topic that continues to come up on a daily basis as the popularity increases: friends in book clubs have differing reading preferences, customers inquiring at their neighborhood bookstore about the availability of downloadable books, the conservative, avid reader who feels there is no substitute for the real thing, and on and on. At a recent conference sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, an entire curriculum was offered to introduce an e-reader solution to independent bookstores across the country in an attempt to retain the growing percentage of customers that are making the move to digital. There was an audible intake of air when the concept was introduced.

Inarguably, there are benefits to electronic reading devices. They offer portability to the busy traveler or businessperson alike where several (if not hundreds) of titles can be instantly accessible without the burden of carrying multiple books around. The instant gratification they provide is consistent with the culture in which we live. Hear about a new book just released or have a need to catch up on a classic for your high school Lit class? You can buy it with the click of a button, virtually erasing the need to visit the local bookstore (or any store for that matter.) And we can’t forget about the eco friendly spin on e-books, we’re saving trees are we not? But, let’s look at what we are missing…

These e-readers and their respective downloads simply cannot replace the emotional attachment one develops with the printed page. There is a social element that is lacking with the digital book craze. You can’t exactly scribble a quick note to a friend saying you hope they enjoy this book as much as you did, stick it to your kindle or nook and leave it on their doorstep to find when they return home. With a book, you can. There is a personal connection that is nurtured along every step of a book’s shelf life.  We throw parties in honor of our favorite author’s new release where fans line up for the chance to shake hands with, take a photo of and get their books signed by the brilliant mind that wrote it. E-books don’t garner such enthusiasm from fans and booksellers as the real thing.

One of the many benefits of working within the inspired environment of a bookstore is the wonderfully talented and creative people that I have met. Allow me to share with you a poem about the e-reader topic authored by our amazingly clever writer-in-residence, Anika Denise. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ode to the Book

Oh, how I love pages

Actual pages. Pages

Turnable, dog-eared

Discernable

In bright sunlight.

Books. Printed and

Bound. Safe

And sound in the

Bottom of my sandy

Beach bag. No version

Of Nook or Kindle will

Dwindle my desire for a

Book. A book that you

Hold, with pages that

Fold. You own an iPad,

It’s convenient, I get it.

I’ve said it: On planes,

And trains – Sure, why

Not? That’s fine. But,

Leave it behind?

You’re Out 600. I’m

Out 16.99. Oh, how I

Love bookstores, actual

Bookstores. Mortar and brick.

No scroll. No click. Books

On shelves in a sturdy line,

Spine after spine of

Promise. Oh, how I love

The sound of a

Hardcover snapping

Shut. That satisfying

End. Perhaps I’ll lend to

A friend. Or keep on a shelf

And read again and again.