I’ve been doing some reading online and it seems that everyone is counting Barnes and Noble out. Their Nook readers did take a bit of a hit last holiday season underperforming in their sales goals. Many analysts seem to be declaring that this is the end of Barnes and Noble as a brand. That soon it will go the way of Borders. Electronic books are the future and they just can’t compete in that market.
I certainly hope that isn’t true. I love going to bookstores. I don’t do it as often as I used to. I used to walk to the Borders I lived by about once a week just to see what was in. It was something the boys and I would do. I realize I’m a bit weird. I may be like the people who prefer vinyl to CDs (do people still buy CDs?) but I would much rather have a real book than an eBook. Here are some reasons why:
- I just like books. I’d rather hold a book in my hand than an eReader or tablet (and I own some).
- Many times the format of the book is part of the presentation. The book “The Collected Works of T.S. Spivit” won’t work as well digitally because the layout is part of the book.
- When you “buy” an eBook you don’t own it (or even a copy of it). You are renting it, perhaps for the rest of your life, but you are renting it. If you die, it doesn’t get handed down. If Amazon decides you’ve broken some rule and the close your account, your books are gone. It’s happened to people and it could happen to you.
I’ve come to a decision as to what to do about this. First, whenever possible, I’m going to buy books in actual stores, maybe the used bookstore in town, maybe the specialty bookstore, or perhaps the Barnes and Noble 10 miles away. If I’m buying online, I’m buying from Barnes and Noble. The prices are generally a little higher than Amazon but it’s worth it if it helps keep bookstores in business. I’m also going to be giving Amazon less and less of my business for other things. I’ve already stopped buying books from them but I do occasionally buy other items from them, tools, toys, that type of thing. I’m going to try to scale that back. No need to feed the beast that wants to be the Wal-Mart of the internet.
It’s not even that I think Amazon is doing something wrong or objectively harmful. I just want brick and mortar bookstores to continue to exist. I realize it’s a losing battle. Eventually books, I mean real, physical books, will be the thing of collectors, the type of things that only certain people have or even want. That idea makes me sad.
On the bright side, we had to go somewhere on Friday and my 9 year old chose to take a book with him in the car instead of his iPod touch. I’ll count that as a victory for people like me.