The Barnes and Noble in town is closing at the end of February. I went there at least twice a month. I’d get a coffee and wander up and down the aisles, looking at book covers like the labels on wine bottles. I would have no idea what was inside, but I knew what kind of covers had potential. I never walked out without spending less than $50, loaded up with everything from bestsellers to the quirky novels of first-time authors. My string quartet even played music there. It was a perfect blend of my many loves–writing, music and coffee.
Their space is being taken over by the Container Store. Containers of knowledge to be replaced by containers of nothing.
I have nothing personal against the Container Store. Being an anal-retentive, violin-playing Virgo, it’s not surprising that I prefer a world organized into well-labeled, stackable boxes. If they are pretty, even better.
I was perfectly happy, however, with the old Container Store location. I wouldn’t think a Container Store would generate more revenue per square foot than a busy bookstore, but I could very well be wrong. After all, we have a television show about hoarders. We don’t have one about compulsive readers.
When it comes to technology, I’m a little slow on the uptake. A year or so ago, I took my husband’s Kindle for a trial run, and rejected it pretty handily. It was hard for me to see the letters, and dang thing kept turning the pages every time I clicked the handle by accident, which happened almost constantly if I held the Kindle like a normal person. More then that, I missed the feel of the book in my hands. I love to kick back with a book and a cup of tea, snuggle into the sofa and while the hours away turning page after page. How could an electronic device suffice?
With the bookstore closing, however, I had to move out of my Luddite zone. More and more books are available solely in electronic form. My own very well might be. Breaking down and getting some type of electronic reader was a necessity. The mall bookstore only handles bestsellers, and we don’t have any good independents close by, or I would have gone there in the first place.
Knowing that I was unlikely to do it for myself, my husband bought me a Kindle Paperwhite. I’m sort of chagrined to say it. I love it.
The Paperweight feels much more like a book than the original Kindle. And I love, love, love, the adjustable font size and the backlit screen. I will be 49 this year. My vision was bad to begin with. Age has only made it worse. The Paperwhite’s bright screen and enormous letters make me swoon. I feel so efficient, swiping page after page like a speed reader. I can even tuck it in my purse, which is a godsend while waiting 45 minutes in the parking lot for my son to finish practice.
If I want a book, I just push the little shopping cart, search, and bam, there it is. It’s immediate gratification. It’s like streaming video. I don’t want to have to wait two days to get my fix. I read tons, and have a read-me list a mile long. I have the world of print at my fingertips. But the best part? The very best part?
I can read while my husband sleeps.
I don’t have to go downstairs. I don’t lay in bed staring at the back of his head. I don’t even mind the cat sitting on my legs like a bowling ball. I’m reading a book.
I will still miss perusing covers. I purchased so much on impulse, and I suspect that I be missing some gems with great covers, not to mention art books with beautiful pictures or poetry books which utilize space as an alphabet unto itself, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
Unfortunately that’s a lot of nothing which means a lot of something. Luckily I can buy a container for it.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Martin Cathrae © 2009 Creative Commons