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February 20, 2008

Comments

Ivy

The clearest evidence of this, to me, is over at Amazon.com. They launched their Kindle ebook reader months ago and they still can't catch up with the backlog of orders. The forums are rich with people trying to figure out when theirs might come. I think they're down to a two to three week turnaround time, and at the busiest, they were six weeks behind on orders.

This only represents those avid readers who can afford to throw $400 on a luxury item and who buy and read enough books to make this a worthwhile investment. The main reason most of the forum participants cite in wanting a Kindle is a lack of shelf space in their homes. We're being pushed out by our books.

Sony had the same problem when they launched their eReader. The demand outstripped the supply in mere days and Sony had to struggle to catch up with the orders.

This is a gift unlike any other to those members of the population who have weaker eyesight. The font size is adjustable, so suddenly every book is a large print book, and can be carried around in a 10 oz or less package about the size of a paperback.

We've gotten to a stage where soon, no book will ever need to go out of print and every book will be scant minutes away.

Gold indeed.

Louis Delair, Jr.

I am a returning reader who went through a hiatus of literary indulgence due to work timetables and extensive travel. Now that I've retired, I have returned full throttle to reading and 'devour' a book-a-week, at least (I also have dance classes, films and fitness to work in somehow). A Golden Age of Books, you say?!?!? I totally agree because we have the world to consider, not only U.S. readers. Case in point, I have a friend in Europe, for whom English is his third language. Whenever he visits the USA, he brings an empty suitcase JUST FOR Books! He has a location in Bethesda, MD, akin to the Greenwich Book Exchange but much larger, and he purchases paperbacks for .50 and hard bound books for 1.00! He, as I, gives away the books and keeps the circulation going. Apart from reading, I too am interested in writing and have dabbled a bit. Should I ever be fortunate enough to publish, ...there I am, contributing to the 'waste'!!! We retirees need, love and want books! Our toddlers and young folk show their love of books and bedside stories (or classroom stories) with their saucer-wide eyes at the listening to enthusiastic readings! Yes, books are here and growing in popularity and demand every day! Mind boggling, I know, in the face of the electronic media that books have to contend with. That said, however, we only lose those readers for a few of their formative years - they eventually come back to the book-reading fold, in some form or other.

Allison Simpson

I have always felt fortunate to be able to retreat to any corner with a book and pass the time. As a child, being sent to my room was no punishment - I just read. My first husband did not read, as such, and was jealous of my books. My second husband, for the last 22 years, is an avid reader. We both have been known to reread nearly anything if we find ourselves in the awful position of being out of books. There is nothing quite as nice as being able to take your book along wherever you go, so you can slip away, even for a moment! Thanks!

Mark Kaufman

Books continue to thrive, reading is still popular, and information exchange via the written word continues. As a former teacher, curriculum developer, and Dean I treasure books and reading in whatever form. As a moderate technophile I read on my Palm device as well as with the gentle tactile sensation of a page in hand.

Using an electronic reader has allowed many children with diagnosed learning disabilities to experience the wonder of a novel - broken into visually manageable small sections. This may be used to lead into more traditional bound books without the overwhelming sense of being inundated with words in print.

Books are a treasure to be shared, I applaud the many recycling and trading centers that have sprung up around the world to pass books that we have loved on to a new family, a new home, and a new generation.

Rob Kresge

This is a wonderful and hopeful commentary. I represent the Albuquerque chapter of the national organization Sisters in Crime. Our guest speaker in January, author Joe Badal, depressed us all with tales of how difficult it is for new novelists to get published these days. And his statistics were grim. You don't have to publish this comment on your blog, but could I have permission to reprint your column in our bimonthly Nooseletter in three weeks? I think it would help offset the downer that the aspiring authors among us are feeling and inspire readers (the bulk of our members) to feel that they're not alone in the numbers of books we all consume. Thanks for considering this request. Keep up the good work. Rob

David K.

I agree with your views and only add another example of book recycling. Some of the airport stores have initiated a program (I think called "Read and Return") which refunds half of the purchase price of books as long as they are returned in 6 mos. I think the books are then resold.

I have used this a lot, often buying just before a flight and then returning it on landing.

Enjoyed the essay. Thanks

Diana Raabe

I agree! In a time where vacations are becoming out-of-reach for many - and yet more needed than ever - books provide the best vacation from the stress of life for your money.

best and brightest

Mr. Delair,

Could you please tell me where the book exchange is in Bethesda? I live in Bethesda, but am unfamiliar with it.

Thank you.

JD

Chris Geyer

Regarding the new eReaders - I like the Opus response best. On receiving a new eReader and settling in with a favorite book, Opus quickly returns to the easy chair, the reading light, and a regular, bound copy of the book. That's me.

I read onscreen all the time. I refuse to print out copies of the articles I need for my research when they are available as .pdf files. But when it comes to a book I read for pleasure, I want the tactile experience of the paper and the binding and the weight, and the absence of the screen and glaring light from same. I appreciate the convenience of having a book to read on a palm size device while traveling, but it still doesn't take me from my books.

I love the book traders and used book stores and the other means by which books recycle to new readers. But I don't know that I'd call it a Golden Age. I think to really have a Golden Age, we - those of use who read and love books - need to work to help eliminate illiteracy across all the levels of our society. Having these books readily available and affordable doesn't help the child (or adult) who can't read them. If we could eliminate that, then we would have a Golden Age, indeed.

Lynne

I hope a reply gets through.

Anyway, with Christmas trees I realized how many trees I was killing, and I moved to plastic trees and purchased fewer over the years. I had a tree in my apt., and a tree at my parents’, and a tree in my classroom at school (3 a year for maybe 10 years). I made a new decision the year a girl became allergic to the real tree and had to go home while we cleared it out of the room and made arrangements for a plastic tree. In recent years the tree became smaller and smaller and even nonexistent some years.

I haven’t solved the paper/plastic dilemma, but I have been thinking long and hard about the buy a book or use my new Kindle. I love the Kindle. When we went to the beach last summer, I took so many books and magazines it was hardly a vacation, and then I didn’t look at most. I knew I had to do something about all those books that are all over the house which brings me back to paper or plastic.

For a novel or non-reference I’m purchasing it on my Kindle and even settling for a sample instead of the whole book. For a reference book I’m ordering from Amazon or visiting Barnes and Noble for the purchase. I’m so relieved, and the house is looking a little leaner. I’m purchasing fewer magazines as well. Amazon is still important to me, but I’m actually buying different books from what I used to, and I’m still helping them stay rich.

Now I just ask myself – paper or plastic?

When is Levenger making a lightweight inexpensive carrying-case for my Kindle? I won’t carry a heavy one.

Peter

I agree. I buy several books a month, more than I can read. I can't wait for retirement so that I can read the hundreds of books awaiting my attention. Books will always be around. Nothing like the pleasure of holding a book in your hands, savoring the print, the photos, illustrations, and much more.

Keep writing your columns/essays. I enjoy them.

Ron

We may, indeed, be headed toward the "Golden Age," but I purvey autographs and manuscripts and still employ a fountain pen. Maybe I am not the best person to opine a view. Hah hah. Enjoyed your commentary. I remember a one-page ad spread in The New York Times back in the mid 1970s. It declared "Only the busy person has time to read." I found that inspiring.

Chris

I wouldn't bring my palm pilot into the bathtub or onto the beach, two places where I do a lot of my reading. For me, books are here to stay!

Cheryl Conway

Amen! As a lifelong, avid reader, I cannot imagine a world where there are no books. A computer screen just doesn’t cut it. A book allows your imagination to run wild and to transport you to places and situations you might not otherwise experience. So let’s all celebrate books and a Well-Read Life!

sarahsbooks

I don't see people turning away from books. Bookshops, perhaps (because most books are just so ridiculously cheap online right now), but not books. I always wonder if the people who talk about the death of the book as we know it (the good old-fashioned codex-style easily-portable endlessly-fascinating book) are actually READERS themselves. Readers of books, lovers of books, versus merely information-retrieval experts, purveyors of "content." Bah.

Long live the book!

Eadain

I don't think books are going anywhere. I get headaches reading a computer screen, and no one can convince me that an e-book will replace paper books, at least not in this lifetime. You can't really curl up to your computer screen. There's something magical about crisp pages on a rainy or snowy afternoon.

Besides, we writers are always going to need you! --or is that, us writers.. lolol

Eadain

just another thought, on the subject of Kindles and other electronic book devices.. for those out there that think we are conserving resources by employing these products, what is going to happen when the inevitable upgrade occurs? They will be thrown into the vast computer wasteland, computer dump sites. We all know those items don't break down, and have toxic materials that computer scavengers (mainly children) either ingest or absorb through their skin. Computer parts will be bobbing on the ocean waves and washing up on the beaches to kill birds and other creatures who mistake them for food. So I'm not sure we're doing our Earth a favor by doing the electronic upgrade.

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