J.K. Rowling is possibly one of the biggest e-book holdouts in the industry. Almost everyone has made the conversion option available to customers, but the Great Madame is an eternal servant to ink and paper.
Or is she? With the opening of her website Pottermore in October, Ms. Rowling will make available for the first time all 7 Harry Potter books on e-reader format. It will have an effect similar to when The Beatles finally became available on iTunes. What turned her opinion? It was the convenience an e-reader gave her on long trips with her children. She was able to store endless kids books on the device, without the burden and mess of lugging around physical books in a bag. This is when she knew.
I am an employee of Barnes & Noble, and one of things I’m constantly asked is where the bathroom is. Oh, and also, what the hell is so great about the NOOK e-reader vs. a real book? About three seconds into my response, the querying person appears overwhelmed by unwelcome change and paranoia.
My response to this paranoia is always the same (and I might add, surprisingly effective at eliciting calmness): I have books for my bookshelf– important, memory-filled ones, with a familiar smell and feel. But those books need a place in my house. They also need a place in an ever-weightier box when I eventually move. If I travel, I will need a spot for it in my carry-on, which is already pricey real estate with the growing cost of checking a bag.
So, I have my books I want for my shelf, but then I’ve got a whole host books I want to read, that I don’t care to let collect dust over the years as I continue to not read it. That’s where my e-reader comes in.
I read faster with this, and I read more. And not just more to justify my purchase of such a costly device. I now employ three ways of chopping through my forest of Must-Read-Books: 1) chopping through a forest to make the paper needed for a print version of my must-read book, 2) the e-reader, and 3) audiobooks.
I am a nut for Audible.com, which charges me a monthly fee of $15 in exchange for one free audiobook download. With the prices of audiobooks reaching into the 30′s and higher, it’s a steal.
Two books I couldn’t be prouder of reading right now:
Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” 2010′s Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction. It’s a perspective-changing story that never keeps the same main character for longer than a chapter. It centers around a group of people, who is one way or another, are connected to the music industry and spend their lives fretting over how to stay in it and continue getting older. Some of the most vivid characters I’ve seen or read about in years.
My non-fiction read right now is Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha’s “Sex at Dawn,” (pictured above) a hugely controversial and fascinating digging up of humans’ connection to the bonobos primates, as well as (most inflammatory of all) how that calls into question a lot of modern talk about how monogamy comes naturally to humans. The book argues that monogamy is not for natural. Needless to say, it has enraged a person or two since its printing. Still, personal disagreements though I may have, I can’t deny the book isn’t meticulously researched and in possession of a few good points.
But back to e-readers. You probably heard about Borders Books going bankrupt and closing its doors.
The bugaboo over Borders’ closing and what this means for books even made its way this week to The Daily Show. It’s worth your five minutes…
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Borders Goes Out of Business|
Not a day goes by at Barnes & Noble that I don’t clean up someone who’s pooped their pants over this “all bookstores are endangered species” mania. Borders failed because of poor business practices, a shit economy, free memberships and an aborted e-reader attempt that resulted in a frighteningly inferior product. Barnes & Noble is not overexpanding, we keep shrewd business practices during red times, our memberships come at a fee, and the NOOK is a worthy (if not superior) competitor to Amazon’s Kindle. NOOK understands that the future of reading will pair the digitally interactive with the actually interactive. People will still need book browsing. They’ll still need coffee with their perusing. And homeless people with elephantitis will still need a place with enough chairs to rest their engorged feet.
Borders’ demise doesn’t spell doom for Barnes & Noble, and the book world at large, any more than did the shuttering of Gimble’s Department Store. Macy’s is still around. Everyone calm down. Especially you people who don’t read. Why are you somehow the loudest complainers in this riot?