Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why Is Walking Though A Book Store Better Than Letting Your Fingers Do The Walking Through Amazon?

Small but mighty book on the

beginnings of the American Revolution

I just finished a book today, yes, a real book that I happened to stumble upon at the nearest Barnes & Noble. For those of you that don't remember, there used to be many, many bookstores where you could touch and pickup a book and thumb through the pages deciding before you bought it and took it home. I have haunted bookstores my whole life and probably own far too many books in fact. Moving them is a real pain in the @#$%!
   Recently after spending far too long at my local Barnes & Noble and after being unable to find a world map the size I wanted, I found about 10 books I really did want to buy and read, grabbed my will by the throat and almost made it out the door. 
    There really is nothing like going through the aisles of a bookstore ... something you will never find online. You check out the new books, then the new sale books then row after row of books by sections ... fiction, non-fiction, history, biographies and at Barnes & Noble racks of discounted books, often and sadly much reduced from the time I bought them, even on Amazon. There are the classics in fetching bindings, recommendations of books you should have read and those you neglected once and now might be ready to try. I was a good boy that day until ...
Nothing beats browsing for books!
   Just as I left I noticed a stand filled with books marked 80% off. I could not resist, I had to look. Thumbing through a bunch of books I would have never, ever read, I found THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, a dry little tome that caught my eye. 
   I love American history and have read many books regarding the foundations of my country. I realize its faults, the faults of our founding fathers but still, despite all that is going on here today, I love my country. I am sure the arguing discourse of today would make our founding fathers feel right at home. They were a quarrelsome lot as well. In fact, its a wonder The United States of America was even created!
   I thumbed through it and quickly realized Mr. Green was talking about things I had never heard of before. There was as much about the English view of events as the American views. I bought it.
   There was no way I would have ever found this book on Amazon. It wasn't in any of my search criteria. They show you many similar books but unlike the old card catalogs at the library, digital search sadly is as boring and bereft of possibilities as finger marching through Amazon.
   Today, just as I write this, I looked the title up. I found the retail for this quite small book was $25.99. Amazon was selling it for $19.71. I bought it at an 80% markdown for about $5.50. Three reviewers give it about a 4.5 star rating. None were as enthusiastic as I was. Here, in a nutshell were the arguments of the House of Parliament, whatever king was in charge at the time, the views of many of the colonies and basically the conditions of the founding of 12 of the 13 colonies. You see, the argument was over the fact the colonies were creations, corporations if you will, granted by the king and not the Parliament. What became the British Empire was a fledgling creation and Parliament was more worried about Ireland for about 150 years than whatever was going on in the Americas land or sea. When they finally realized there was money to be had they tried to tax the colonies, violating their own constitution that said "no taxation without representation." We all know what that got them.
   More importantly, I would have never found this book letting my fingers doing the walking on my computer. And that, also in a nutshell, is why a book store, a tangible, brick and mortar bookstore is so important, so magical. The excitement of discovery, holding a book in your hand, browsing through it and letting it hook you into submission that is what discovery is all about.
    Several weeks ago I read an article in TIME magazine that the sales of digital books had stalled and in fact were starting to drop. It seems that the reading public, like me, was "rediscovering" a physical book. Yes, I have geeky friends that say they can hold a whole library on the Kindle or iPad. No more lugging a heavy tome around. Yet, when you are reading a screen, is it really a book?
   On a recent trip, a 15 hour flight, I could have read books stored on my iPad but what did I do? I picked through the magazines I brought and finally settled on a paperwork whodunit mystery instead. In one of my frequent get up and walk about trips, I noticed that yes, there were many iPads and such with people reading but this time there were as many holding a book ... a real book.
    Just like the sales of old fashioned 33 1/3 LP's are making a comeback (more were sold in 2016 than in the past 10 years) there is something tangible, something that remains yours when you hold, read and own the property in your hands.
    While I see people secretly photographing a book with their smart phones in a book store, and I must admit I look up a book I read about on Amazon, there is nothing like the real thing. Even better, being able to discover, browse, buy and immediately bring home and read the real thing. Even Amazon can't do that. Nothing beats the immediate satisfaction you get.
A Portland institution it seems forever.  There are even two stores
in the Portland Airport ... one on each end!
  I am planning a visit to Portland, OR this fall. I have told a friend there, a trip to Powell's downtown book store is a must. You can literally spend a day lost there. What's even better is that they encourage you return books after you read them for credit towards more purchases. New and slightly used books of the same titles sit next to each other. Even better, if you can't carry them home for a frightfully small fee they box and ship them to you! I got nearly a $1000 in cookbooks for $123 plus about $12 shipping. Sorry, but even Amazon can't do that!
    If you love books, I encourage, no beg you, to visit a bookstore. There are always discounts and you just, just like me, find a hidden gem you would have never discovered online! You might, just might save a venerable institution that began in the 1440's when Gutenberg printed his first book.

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ... Many of the items talked about here are for sale there!

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