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Where Have All the Books Gone?

In case you haven't heard the news, Borders, the mega bookstore, is closing its doors. If I'm not mistaken, they were the first nationwide bookstore chain to offer their customers comfy seats (and coffee for a fee) in which to contemplate buying books.

Commiserating with Gina Dalfonzo at lunch the other day, we agreed that Borders' closing felt like an end to an era. We wondered how much the invention of hand-held book readers had to do with the store's closing. Gina and I both live near other bookstores that are still in business -- at least for now.

Gina's only hand-held device is an iPad with a bookstore app, which she doesn't use much. Besides an older flip-cell phone, I don't own any such devices at all. (I'm not anti-technology, but at work, I get my fill of it.)

One thing we both agree on is that books, those things printed on papers which are bound together, are necessary to our well-being.

Reading books is a tactile experience which can't be wholely achived using a computer. In "And Then There Were Books," Heather King writes about using your senses while reading printed books. In her words, it's an "incarnational" experience. Further, she writes, when reading a printed book, one has the ability to contemplate a section the the story or an important idea --that thing which is vital to comprehending and knowing.

I know plenty of people who own hand-held reading devices, and I'm glad for them. In the future, I, too, will probably own one, especially as I contemplate some of the wonderful aspects of owning one. As the advertisers point out, it would, indeed, be easier to cart a hand-held device around rather than a bunch of books.

However, there is one troubling aspect about the marketing, which is troubling -- even, dare I say, at odds with Christian worldview. King says that advertisers are claiming that if people purchase this device, they will help lessen their "burden" on the environment.

The hand-held device advertising is part of a larger trend of belief that no one should be a burden to the planet or anyone else. The idea is antithetical to the Christian worldview. As King writes, "We should burden each other. That is what we're here for. We should be willing to sweat and bleed a little for what we love, and for the writers who have laid down their lives in order to leave us their work."

So whether you buy a hand-held device or continue to frequent bookstores and libraries, one thing to remember: Listen to what the advertisers are actually marketing. Refute the ideas that are subtly or blatantly anti-human.

As for Borders, I'm sorry that a number of people will be out of work. But even more, I hope the store's closing isn't a portent of things to come.

Comments:

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Oh yes and there is pine. That always smells good.
Or Cured Tobacco
.
Take it from me (literally): a lot of, uh, bang for your buck there.
I can barely smell. However I think I would choose either coffee or gunpowder.
It’s in the Cloud, Lee
.
You have to download the add-on from the olfactory where it was manufactured. Here’s the link to their diagnostics homepage: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+115:6&version=KJV
Dis-app-pointed
Rolley, I went to that website and I've *clicked* and *clicked* on those graphics of aerosol cans, but no matter how close I put my nose to my laptop - nothin'.
smellofbooks.com/aromas/scent-of-sensibility/
"The scent of violets, horses, and potpourri."

Just what I always wanted: to read Jane Austen while sitting near the stables.
Like We Didn’t See This Coming
.
http://smellofbooks.com/

They even have one for Ellen and Gina, and perhaps now LeeQuod, too: http://smellofbooks.com/aromas/scent-of-sensibility/

And, Jason, I understand they’re beta-testing a scent called “Oops, Spilled Coffee on My First Edition of Toynbee’s ‘A Study of History’”.

Gag me with a virtual bookmark.
Sails continued long after steam. In fact they outlasted coal engines by several decades.

For an old technology to exist side by side with a new, it has to find a peculiar demand.

One thing that will keep books around for awhile is that they are simply there. There is no prospect of a book-burning party.
I have a hard time believing books will truly go away someday. However, new technologies do sometimes mean the end of old ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttueyV5t9qc
I Still Prefer Holding a Book
I own a Kindle and I even kinda like it - sorta.

It is wonderful to hold a printed book:
to immediately view its size and shape,
to open it and feel the pages,
to view the text,
to determine within moments how large a body of material is in one's hands.
While reading,
one knows how far one has read
and how much is left before the end.

I have none of the above experiences with my Kindle.
Which is why, while I love that I can have an entire library on my Kindle, using it is far less than the full experience of reading.
Lee, it might also affect other sources such as Netflix. I heard they raised their prices and the customers are furious. They send movies over the internet.
(Note to self: when weaving threads, be careful to not confuse the loom.)

TNT episodes of "Leverage" are online here, but after some delay: http://www.tnt.tv/series/leverage

Having tried it some time ago, I'm not fond of jumping through Hulu hoops. But note that Blockbuster is all but gone, and I will not be surprised to see RedBox slowly disappear. So not only bookstores, but the distribution centers for physical media of all of the genres are threatened by the Internet. (Woops, including - cough - *Borders*, Ms. Loom.)
Not much poorer. A strong portion of those who write do so because they desire to write. The present system allows people to write without a crippling commitment in effort and sooner or later there will be a great classic produced specifically on the internet.

For instance a highly complex epic could be written in wiki format with highlighted words showing references. This ability allows more characters and plot threads and would be extremely handy for speculative fiction writers who wish a well made backstory. CGI will develop to the point where a full scale cinema can be produced independently and any work can be illustrated reasonably well.

Styles of authorship made specifically for blog-works haven't yet been fully developed. But sooner or later there will be a Great Work made by some nerd in his basement. That nerd will not have to convince a publisher; nor will he have to starve or make his family miserable or any other of the stereotypes for artists. All he will have to do is write.
Rolley, the Mistress Of The YOD herself has declared, by example, that all random tangents are now fair game. I suspect you'll be busy. ;-)

Thanks, G!! I'll check it out. Drat - I should have checked at Borders to see if they have the previous seasons of "Leverage" on DVD. But then, I'd be stuck with storing physical media, for a show I probably won't watch more than once - unlike, say, the "Pride & Prejudice" book, which would tolerate multiple readings, so having a physical copy isn't a bad idea. Hmm - I wonder if Gutenberg ever envisioned landfills of cheap paperbacks...
LeeQuod, if you get the chance, you might enjoy watching the episode of TNT's "Leverage" that aired last night. The term "open-source potato" was used. :-)

[/random tangent]
"unattached people -- mostly attractive"

Oh, Kim, you *are* a treasure!! Made my day already, thinking about attractive people who don't actually attract.

Jason, on that particular morning my wife and I happened to be near the Borders at Cedar Hills in Beaverton. Yesterday, as we were driving by the one at Bridgeport between Tualatin and Lake Oswego, it occurred to me that in most malls the Borders is an "anchor store" - a large building with a long-term lease. The idea is that a mall containing several such stores (usually situated at the ends of the mall) will be able to financially withstand the comings and goings of smaller, less stable stores in the middle, and that the larger stores act as a kind of "main attraction" to draw shoppers who will then also shop the smaller stores. The two Borders I mentioned were both anchor stores, and the mall owners are no doubt scrambling to figure out how to sell that real estate to someone else as soon as possible. And we all know how it looks when a store is empty and the name has been removed; it's a blight on the neighborhood - particularly an upscale one like Bridgeport. But how many retailers will sign a long-term lease for huge floorspace, when ordering via the Internet is becoming more popular? (The Internet not only helped to kill Borders, but also threatens any replacements. Hey, Gina, has Al Gore stepped up to take credit for this boost to the economy? ;-) )

So the disappearance of the Borders organization has a far wider impact than on just us book lovers.

And, Jason, your comment about library workers being primarily volunteers is very interesting, given that I'm thinking about the open source software movement and how it is driven by volunteerism. (See Eric S. Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" - if you can find a copy. ;-) ) I wonder how much "information poorer" we would all be if pure capitalism controlled all information flow - particularly that of books. It makes me want to read more about why Andrew Carnegie, capitalist par excellance, thought public libraries were so important.
which borders did you pay your respects at?
Where have all the books gone?
This has been a sad trend for years. As we have become more and more an image oriented culture instead of a print oriented one, we have become content in Neil Postman's words, "amusing ourselves to death." This is especially poignant to me, for I have been mentored and discipled primarily through the writings of some of the finest thinkers throughout church history. I have never been to college or seminary yet, but I'm convinced that the training I have received through the pens of Schaeffer, Lewis, Guinness, David Wells, Chesterton, the Puritans, Reformers and countless others has been a profoundly invaluable education, even without the attendant credentials. I have been privileged to stand upon the shoulders of giants and the debt that I owe them is incalculable. The fact that their influence appears to be fading { for a number of reasons, not just bookstore closings) just adds to the impoverishment of the church.
I think I'm developing hives from envisioning living in a Sci-Fi show like Star Trek, no books, just computers. Nothing green or blue, no mountains or seas, and unattached people -- mostly attractive - well, except for the monsters. Oh my.
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