Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Book-A-Saurus

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away….bookstores and little paper books roamed the Earth. Oh, wait…that was just last year.
On Monday I went with my friend Linda to the seminar “The Future of Publishing”, hosted by Independent Writers of Southern California. There was a panel of folks ranging from booksellers to agents to self-publishing companies and internet silicon valley techies selling “vooks” (interactive online books which contain videos). Although the speakers represented different ends of the spectrum, one thing they all agreed on was the inevitable death of bookstores, and I practically had to breathe into a paper bag.
Damn you, Kindle!
No, I’m not a fan. I do not own one, and I do not want one. Don’t even try to convince me how great it is and how much you love yours.
Publishing has been a pretty consistent industry for several hundred years, but since the introduction of the Kindle…it’s changed faster that anyone could have anticipated. Even the huge conglomerates can’t keep up. Borders bookstores, as of yesterday, stopped paying rent on their stores. Mom and Pop bookstores are falling like dominoes.
This is giving me great anxiety. When I was in college and used to have panic attacks, the only thing that calmed me was to sit in the aisle of the campus bookstore. Opening a book, the smell of fresh print, the feel of the cool crisp pages against my fingers soothed me. Being surrounded by all my favorite books on the shelves in my home calms me and gives me a good feeling. How could a Kindle make me feel that way?
My husband will tell you that when I’m stressed or blue, I don’t shop for shoes, I get myself lost in a bookstore for a few hours. It’s like swimming in a sea of brilliance, ideas, theories, imagination. I peruse, gather a huge stack of books that call to me, plop myself down on the floor in a quiet aisle and plunge in. When I am filled with inspiration and curiosity, I make my final choices and purchase my books, which I will read, and re-read and keep forever. I love my books!
There’s nothing better than walking into someone’s home and seeing a room full of books. I can’t help myself from reading all the spines (a person’s library tells a lot about them). And what about all the happy times spent with my children at the library, sitting in a comfy chair, reading stories together. What could ever replace that?
What will the future hold? Will libraries even exist? Will they just be a cold empty room filled with computers?
Are paper books going the way of the vinyl record? Will it one day be a hipster, kitschy thing to have paper books, like it is now to own vinyl albums and a turntable?
I’ll never own a Kindle. I don’t want to worry about getting sand in it when I’m lazing on the beach, or having it run out of battery at the most page-turning moment. Recently my friend Amy went to Mexico with her Kindle all loaded up, only to have it break down on the first day of vacation, leaving her nothing to read all week but catalogs. No thank you! I don’t want to read Catcher In The Rye on a Kindle! I want my faded copy from the 1960s with it’s dog-eared yellow pages, it’s cover well-worn from being toted around and loaned out to friends.
So here I am, having just written my first book, and the publishing world around me is in disarray. (Good timing Holls!) There are those telling me just to self-publish in digital form. That’s the future, that’s where the money is, they say. I can’t do this. I want my book to be real, to be loved, to be well worn, to have dog-eared pages and highlighted passages, to be passed around from friend to friend. If it isn’t then I’d rather not publish it at all.
I want my dinosaur bookstores back.


  1. I'm with you Hollye, the library was my sanctuary as a child, then I took those books home and on nice days settled into the crook of my favorite tree in the backyard to read, read, read! I will NEVER own a Kindle!

  2. UH OH. i'm gonna have to write another shame piece. I LOVE YOU HOLLYE DEXTER. YOU ROCK THE WORLD.

  3. Hey Hollye...
    I so agree with you..I dont own a kindle..I do however have 6 humongeous book shelves in my house ..literally teeming with books..
    But lets conquer this another way...
    If indeed "digital books" are the wave of the future..just as cell phones and cordless phones have taken over where the once stationary black huge rotary dial phone once ruled...then why not be a part? Kids today and perhaps their kids following may never know the feel of a well loved paper back book or the heaviness of a giant War and Peace Novel Novel..but as long as they are able to read, enjoy, be inspired and learn something from the written word..then who cares?
    Im sure this dislike to change is something that effects generation to generation...There was certainly that artist in a cave who thought "why would anyone paint on anything that can be moved? A rock wall is the way to go..because it will last forever and I dont have to worry about it being stolen!!"
    If getting your book out there means going the digital route..then so be it. Your words will be as rich and colorful and imaginative no matter how it gets to the readers mind. Rejoice in the idea that no matter what the format..writers will always have a place and a way to share new ideas and stimulate the imagination. Thats whats really important...
    You are most definitely a share...write...and let millions of people love and adore your story. Who cares HOW they get long as they do!!! xoxoxox!

  4. Wow, I loved this post -- and the responses! Yes, yes, to books, the real thing, tangible, real. I couldn't live without them. I have no desire (yet) for a kindle (or its ilk). And yet Melody's letter was awesome too, and I agree with her. And I think you should publish and get published however.
    xoxo B

  5. I don't own a kindle. I get all my books from the library except my friend's who have published. I buy theirs. I have almost no books left in my house because I pass them on for others. A warm, fire, a glass of wine, my snugglie and a book.

  6. I received a Kindle for Christmas. I'm trying to bond with it, but I love the feel and the smell of a real book. I love looking at them all lined up on the shelf or stacked up on the table or floor. They are my friends, and I'm not feeling that kind of love with my Kindle.

  7. I will never own a kindle. I love books and must feel them in my hands and turn the pages one by one. There is nothing like it. Your description of sitting in the aisles with piles of books...that is my heaven! I love it! I got my love of books from my Mom who to this day volunteers in a book store. She is 75. =) She recently sent me a children's book in french that was written in the late 1800's! I wonder how many fingers have touched the book and turned those pages. A story in itself! Fingerprints from the past. =) Great post! Hugs...A.

  8. I have a Kindle and I love it... I truly have bonded with the device and the concept. I don't miss paper books at all. That said I do still love books and bookstores. I don't think that the Kindle will kill all books but I see a definite end to the paperback novel. I listened to a story about publishing on NPR about 18 months ago that convinced me that the world of publishing was about to change. In the story they discussed that all major publishers in the US were taking less and less new writers and they also discussed the environmental issues associated with book publishing... The logging of trees for the paper, the pollution from the trucks that have to transport the books to retailers and then back from retailers when they don't sell them. It was eye opening to say the least! I have a friend who just before Christmas released a self published book that was on Kindle only at first and then he paid to have 10,000 paper copies made as well. I think that is what you should do Holls! Move with the future but also print your book in limited release on paper.


I love hearing your point of view- thank you for taking the time to comment and be part of the conversation!