Friday, May 25, 2012

QotD: Anachronism Edition

I write this as someone who lives in a house where more than half of all the non-hallway/bathroom walls are covered with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, there are piles of books on every remotely horizontal surface, boxes more in the garage and basement, and the attic floor's structural integrity is at risk from the tonnage of books it supports. In other words, I love me some books in what most people would consider a strangely excessive and not-quite-appropriate way, and my roommate is, if anything, even more sorely afflicted by the same syndrome than I.

All that is a preface to this sad-but-true line from the Adaptive Curmudgeon:
Then my attention drifted because I’d forgotten book stores still exist. How many are left? Are they located between soda fountains and livery stables? Are they sharing rental space with Blockbusters and the telegraph office?
I miss small private bookstores; they were magic. But they were hunted to extinction sometime during the great cultural revolution during which iDevices with games involving hurled birds supplanted rotary dial phones.
Yeah, I like my Kindle. But I don't have to enjoy liking my Kindle!


Anonymous said...

I enjoy USED bookstores; it's a nice thing to encounter some out-of-print gem, and I also enjoy the smell of old books.

But I don't miss small bookstores: relatively narrow selection and often inflated prices.

og said...

The used bookstore is mostly online now, which is OK by me. I don't have to hunt for books nearly as much, I can just look for what I want, and order it.

Alan J. said...

My love of bookstores and books, rather than Kindles and Nooks, is driven by two things. First it's the connection to my own Pre-Kindle youth and second, it's reading something in the same format that Twain, Doyle, Forester, Lamour, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark intended when they wrote them. Will anyone really treasure an original, first edition, Kindle 50 or 100 years from now?

pax said...

As a kid, after reading Heinlein's Waldo, I spent many otherwise boring school-hours daydreaming up creative (and mostly, laughably impractical) ways to solve various challenges posed by living in zero-g. The one that drove me craziest? Trying to figure out how to conveniently keep my books ready to hand. Storage was no biggie (just put them on an enclosed shelf). But what about the book you were carrying around with you? How could you keep it from drifting over to block the air intake vent when you needed to set it down for a moment? I think I finally settled on magnetic book covers. Surely there would always be exposed metal surfaces somewhere convenient.

And yes, of course I knew that you could read stuff on a computer screen. But the idea of reading a book that way just seemed so ... wrong.

Popgun said...

My house literally has sagging foundations under the book shelves in my office. The most recent two or three hundred books I have purchased are on my iPad, which goes with me everywhere. They take up no space, and require no other storage.

Just alleviating my foundation and storage problems justifies the book reader, to me.


Frank W. James said...

I absolutely LOVE used bookstores and I truly mourn their absence, but then I also mourn the loss of the VHS tape if that says anything about me. (I could rewind a VHS tape more easily and more accurately than I can a DVD to re-examine a scene or look at a particular firearm being used in a film.)

The problem with online ordering of books is you have to know what you're looking for. Whereas with a good book store you can find all these neat treasures you didn't know existed until you leafed through a book that had a title that didn't reveal its content.

Plus there is that wonderful smell of a good used bookstore. I never get that off the interweb.

Considering my recent troubles with the new Blogger interface I may not be a complete Luddite, but I'm probably pretty darn close...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

North said...

I miss Baxter's Books in MLPS...

John Venlet said...

In Grand Rapids, MI, another used bookstore just opened, just down the street from two longer established used bookstores. All of them are within 200 feet of each other.

The main spaces of the stores are a bit small, so make sure you ask for access to the basements or upper floors.

John A said...

A big advantage of the Kindle for me is that about two years ago my eyesight got bad enough that I had trouble reading books: with Kindle (and perhaps other EBook formats) I can adjust font size - and do not have to wait for the unlikely "large print" edition.

I do have the problem/objection Frank W. James noted earlier - it is difficult-to-impossible to browse, especially on Amazon with its non-adjustable limit of how many it will display per browser page (a site-wide problem, not just books).

Anonymous said...

There's a pretty wide divide between 'hunted to extinction' and 'failing to adapt' or is that 'flailing to adapt'. Most of the remaining small bookstores in the DC area are now half way morphed into cafes. I reckon it's the lattes that keep the lights on.

Dwight Brown said...

I love used bookstores.

I love new bookstores.

I love physical books.

I also bought a Kindle Fire recently. Besides the utility of the device as a somewhat general purpose tablet, and the $140 price point, one of the major selling points for me was:

O'Reilly books. The physical 4th Edition of Learning Python is thicker than the Austin phone book. I'm carrying that and about half-a-dozen other of their books around with me on the Fire; I have them always at hand, with no real loss of utility over a physical book, and I haven't even filled up the device yet.

(And O'Reilly's books are DRM free, available in multiple formats, and they notify you when updates are available. You can even get revised editions at a substantial discount, and they frequently put some categories of ebooks on sale for $5.)

I'm not giving up my firearms library or my SF books anytime soon, but the Kindle does have advantages.

(And I treasure my signed Standard Catalog of S&W 3rd, but it is a lot easier to carry around on a Kindle.)

Grayson said...

Most people just see a used bookstore.
I, on the other hand, see a repository for treasure.

Roberta X said...

I love used bookstores.

I love my Kindle.

I love books: the more good ones, the better!

...As for "first edition Kindle," remember, that gadget is just the paper, not the content.

Sigivald said...

What og said - today, we can find more used books, for less money, and faster, than ever before.

Without having to drive around to or call a dozen places hoping they might know if they have something, and pay too much to support a marginal brick-and-mortar business's rent and labor costs.

I won't mourn the bookstore's corporeal reality much.

(Example: I live in Portland, 15 minutes by car [if it ain't rush hour] from Powell's, the biggest used book store west of the Mississippi.

I haven't been inside of it in a few years, apart from visiting with touristing friends.

Because... why deal with any of the hassle? I can just buy books from them online, or from Amazon affiliates.

I get recommendations from people online with far better luck than "finding random thing on the shelf", and in-store recommendations tend to be crap anyway, especially outside of fiction.

Because the employees are unlikely to know much about various special interests ... and of course forget about it in politics.)

rickn8or said...

New / used bookstores.

Love 'em. But I've learned to leave my credit / debit cards in the truck when I shop there. Cash only keeps me out of trouble.

Kalvan said...

Other people have bedrooms, living rooms, basements, etc. I have a series of "branch libraries". Of late I've had to restrain my biblioholic predilections for fear the SO will boot me and my tons of paper out on to the sidewalk. Have a Nook, but it's just not the same thing. And what about after that inexorably approaching EMP blast? The Luddites will inherit the Earth!

Joe in PNG said...

I absolutely love the kindle. Because trying to travel overseas with a huge library of paper books is an expensive PITA, or being able to go on vacation without the inconvenient multiple bags of books.

Old NFO said...

Kindles, Nooks and the like are 'convenient', but like everyone else, I LIKE a real book... And there is a GREAT used book store in Jacksonville, FL that I make it a point to get to every chance I get.

Fly To Your Dreams said...

I'm convinced that my love of books is genetic. I grew up in a home with shelves bulging with Agatha Christie mysteries for my mother, and Louis L'Amour westerns for my father. My maternal grandfather's study was more reference library than workspace, and my grandmother could have single-handedly furnished the Romance section of the local library.

My personal tastes tend to run more to SF and Fantasy, with a side of Manga, but it's still a decent sized collection. My Kindle is very convenient, but it lacks the kind of sharing I want as a dad.

It was a big deal to me when I was deemed sufficiently mature to start reading my father's books. I can do the same thing for my kids with my paperbacks by Zahn, Correia, Pratchett, and Jordan. Somehow I doubt beaming an electronic copy onto his Kindle Mk. IV is going to have the same impact or attachment.

mostly cajun said...

Used book stores are an exercise in serendipity.

I am commonly asked "Can I help you find something?" and my answer is usually, "No, I have no idea what I'm looking for."

And how many times, to my delight, I have found it.


Chris said...

Do you Dewey decimal?


Don said...

Out here in small-town Amurrica, we have TWO book stores on the square. The next little town to the south has a soda fountain.

Still got a Kindle, though.

Will said...

You've got hallways without bookshelves?!!

A problem with used book stores is quite often they have a paper eating mold flourishing among the books. That is the most common smell I encounter when visiting them.

WindRider said...

I too prefer 'real' books, but got a Kindle for convenience and portability.

But then, OMG!, The Monster Hunters, complete, as an ebook for $6!

I know, what took me so long? But I'm at least I'm up to date on The Grimnoir Chronicles.

NotClauswitz said...

I thought the small bookstores were hunted to extinction in the Consolidation Wars of 1990's when the Mega-Mall and Chain-Stores were all killed in a woodsy-pulpy bloodfest.

Marja said...

I've been pretty low on money the last two years.

This spring I really noticed the free Kindle books for the first time. So now I browse almost every day, looking if there is anything even remotely interesting looking on the free promotes of the day.

End result: nearly a thousand downloads, so far (lots of short stories and novellas in that, though). It's addictive, and among those have been several new authors I enjoy reading (and when you download something free you can actually toss it if it isn't something you like - something near impossible to do, for me, if it's a paper book, especially something I paid for, even if only a little). And I don't even have a Kindle yet. I guess I have to buy one, later this summer when I should again start to get a bit more steady money. And then I can also start buying some of the other books from those who I have liked best.

Justthisguy said...

Aw shit, Ma'am.

I know I told you I would refrain from commenting on non-gun-nerd posts, but mentioning the books flicked me on a raw spot. My housemate has what may be a ton or two of books in here, and it's hard to walk around without tripping over them.

Did I still have all of my books, collected over 40 years or so,(also amounting to a ton or two) we would, between us, have a very well-rounded library.

The local Books-A-Million has closed. The sphincter (AKA Sports) bar next door is still doing a land-office business.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. I never thought I'd miss my math books as much as I do.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to manuscripts copied by monks with quill pens?

Anonymous said...

Why I like hard-copy bookstores: browsing. The thrill of the hunt is just not the same on Amazon, Powells, Alibris, FleaBay, ABE Books or other digital emporia. That said, for foreign titles or the esoteric, out-of-print stuff in strange languages, the 'net is my primary source.