Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some meditations on independent bookstores, and also: what I am reading



Greetings from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, where this morning consists of fresh-squeezed orange juice and the wavering shadows of palm trees falling through my window. So lovely. Yesterday evening I had a wonderful book event at Changing Hands, one of the truly beloved independent bookstores in our country. And now, sitting here, I am thinking about independent bookstores, and how those that have held on this long (many haven't), in the face of changes to the way we buy and read books, have done so due to support from communities who value what they are enough to show it with their time and their money. 

The money: you'll likely pay full cover price at an indie, because they can't order in the bulk that allows the behemoths to offer their big discounts. 

The time: that it takes to put on your pants (because doesn't everyone sit around pantsless at home?) get in your car or on your bicycle, and go to the store to buy a book, instead of clicking a button and having it delivered instantly to their device, or within a few days to their door. 

Is this time and money worth it? What do you get, other than the book in question? Speaking personally: 

Bookstores feed my soul. Some places give me a feeling of soul-shrinkage, of crimping down on the edges of my happiness the way you seal off the edges of a hand-pie crust. Squash squash, contain. Banks, for example. Malls. Other places make my soul lighten and grow, flowing out to delight and discover. The ocean, the forest. Bookstores. A perfectly balanced sense of well-being and excitement. Like being in love? A little bit, on a small scale. It is like a little slice of being in love. And that goes for chain stores too. Barnes & Noble stores are beautiful and expansive and full of books. I love them too, and I shop in them too. But I love independents more, because of:

Personality and selection. In the past few days I've been to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Book People in Austin, and Blue Willow Books in Houston, all as different from each other as can be. I'm lucky to live in a city filled with independent bookstores of all flavors (well, actually it isn't luck at all but choice). Portland isn't a big city, but we've got two independent children's bookstores, numerous small neighborhood bookshops, and quirky places that sell zines and indie graphic novels, even exotic erotica, if that's your thing. And of course we've got Powell's Books, the largest independent new-and-used bookstore in the world. For all tastes, we're covered. Indie stores give me this urge to explore that I just don't get at a Barnes & Noble where consistency is the name of the game. It's like going into a Starbucks versus a cool little coffeehouse where they roast their own beans and bake their own cakes. Sometimes I am on the go and Starbucks is just what I want: the Known Quantity. Or Barnes & Noble, whatever city I may be in, I can enter and know where everything is, no surprises. But ... in life, I want surprises. I very much do not want life to become Known Quantity and Known Quantity Only. I want the thrill of discovery. A new coffee that makes me think thoughts about coffee that I never had before, a cake I will never taste anywhere else, and a style of book selection and display that is a kind of art: a unique expression of individual personality.

At Green Bean Books in Portland, the owner makes hidden dioramas of books for children to discover. She has a mustache vending machine, and a muskrat vending machine. At Powell's, the fairy tale section in the children's area is an entire aisle of unknown treasures, new and used, old and new, glittering with possibility that makes you want to examine every single spine because you have no idea what might be there, no more idea than if you were sifting through a flea market in Paris. 

Sifting through, discovering. I love bookshelves, and stacks of books, spines, typography, and the feel of pages between my fingertips. I love bookmarks, and old bindings, and stars in margins next to beautiful passages. I love exuberant underlinings that recall to me a swoon of language-love from a long-ago reading, something I hoped to remember. I love book plates, and inscriptions in gifts from loved ones, I love author signatures, and I love books sitting around reminding me of them, being present in my life, being. I love books. Not just for what they contain. I love them as objects too, as ever-present reminders of what they contain, and because they are beautiful. They are one of my favorite things in life, really at the tiptop of the list, easily my favorite inanimate things in existence, and ... I am just not cottoning on to this idea of making them ... not exist anymore. Making them cease to take up space in the world, in my life? No, please do not take away the physical reality of my books.

I get it. Kind of. I get ebooks. I get the convenience, the lack of clutter (I guess, book clutter is the only kind of clutter that I love), and I have a tablet, though I admit it's a crappy one, kind of the VW rabbit of tablets (without the charm of a VW rabbit), and I have used it, though rarely, and mostly for manuscripts. Once, in a welter of desperation for a certain title, I ordered it delivered and read it that way, and after I was done, it was as if it didn't exist anymore. If I love a book, I want it. I want it sitting there so I can pick it up and leaf through it and maybe just hold it. If I don't love a book? Okay, I don't need it sitting around, but my pursuit in book-buying and book-having is for books that I love. Every time I open a book, it is with the hope that I will love it and be transported and be enlarged, that a new room will be built onto my mind, or perhaps even a wing, filled with wonders and whispers. I'm not just trying to pass the time. Books are more to me than that. They are more to me than ether. 

On top of which, ebooks do huge harm to the bookstores that I love. But it is the way things are going, and that's not going to change. If you love ebooks, I'm just glad that you love books. Or, well, that you love stories, novels, because "books" to me means the physical object. I am glad you are reading. I know there are many people reading more than they ever have because of the convenience of tablets, so that is a plus. It's a big plus, but not a pure one, because in making bookstores obsolete, we are damaging ourselves, taking away the possibility of discovery, and the amazing communities that exist within and around independent bookstores. 

When I think of the future, of the libraries that will never be built, the shelves that won't be filled, the spines that won't be printed, the absence of the physical clutter of stories to surround the childhoods of our grandchildren, I kind of want to cry. When I think that they won't have bookstores to go to, the candyshop wonder of all those marvelous books on shelves, waiting to be handled, to be read and treasured and kept ... Oh dear. I am very sad. I am of the old guard, and I cannot embrace this new technology, not for what it is but for how it will change and demolish one of the institutions dearest to me in life. The world is barreling in this direction -- towards this shiny sci-fi future -- that lacks ... texture. Already our grandchildren will never find boxes of letters in our attics, bound with faded ribbon. We have killed letter-writing (some people can barely hand-write anymore, for any length of time; our hands don't have the muscles for writing with pens anymore!!), and we have killed music stores, and we're out to kill books too. It doesn't mean we won't still have stories; we will, in this there-but-not format, but to me, what we are losing is a very great thing. It has begun, and I think that in some places there are enough of us who love books and bookstores that the stores will continue, and publishers will keep printing books on paper for a while longer, hopefully a good long while, hopefully the rest of my life. But ... the rest of my daughter's life? And her children's lives? 

Well. The world changes, it's always changing. I can't know what it will be like in fifty years, I shouldn't go getting all sniffy. I'm not going to exhort you to turn the tide against ebooks, or anything like that. For everyone who is reading on tablets: sincerest thanks for reading. Period. Truly, I am every bit as grateful for every single sale of my books in e-format as on paper. As a writer, I just hope people will read my books in any and every way that it is available, as many people as possible. As a person and a bookstore-lover, I just don't know what to think. Maybe I worry too much! Here's Maurice Sendak on the subject:





Ha ha ha!!! 

Tell me what you think. Am I being crazy? Do you love your device? Can you make me feel better? I want to hear from you!


And before I go, what I am reading right now:

On airplanes and in hotels as I travel (without my "device" by the way, but with three mass market paperbacks tucked into my bags) I am reading:




The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb. You guys, it's soOoOoOoOo goOoOoOod!! So good, so delicious, so fantastic, so well written, so immersive. LOVE. I've never read Robin Hobb before, and I'm ashamed to admit that when I heard her name I assumed she was a man because so much epic fantasy is by men, and when I found out she's a woman, I was a bit thrilled. Not that it matters, but YAY WOMEN FANTASY WRITERS! And YAY that she has so many more books waiting for me to read! I'm into book 2 above, The Mad Ship, of this fantastic trilogy, and it is growing deeper and more wonderful by the page. The essential, wonderful premise of The Liveship Traders is that in this world, there is an exceedingly rare kind of magical wood called wizardwood (of mysterious provenance) which has been used in the building of a class of ships called "liveships," that are passed down through generations in select seafaring families. Once three generations of captains have died aboard a liveship, the figurehead will "quicken" and come to life, and the ship will be sentient and capable of things no other ships are, such as navigating the mystical Rain Wild River, the depths of magic (and horror) of which are still only hinted at as far as I've read. The story set-up, so marvelous, is that Althea Vestrit is the daughter and rightful heir to one such ship, and is cheated of her inheritance at the very moment that her ship quickens and comes to life. Due to the grasping greed of others, the Vivacia must go on her maiden voyage as a quickened lifeship -- a very vulnerable time -- without the strength of her blood kin to guide her, and Althea must make her own way in a world where women are no longer welcome as sailors. Meanwhile, a quixotic pirate captain is making a name for himself by capturing slave ships and freeing the slaves, an abandoned liveship, notorious for murdering his family at sea, is forging a bond with a mysterious wood carver, sea serpents on the move are searching for the source of their ancient memories, and many more Wondrous Things.

From the wood carver above mentioned:

"I think there is in the heart of man a place made for wonder. It sleeps inside, awaiting fulfillment. All one's life, one gathers treasures to fill it. Sometimes they are tiny glistening jewels: a flower blooming in the shelter of a fallen tree, the arch of a small child's brow combined with the curve of her cheek. Sometimes, however, a trove falls into your hands all at once, as if some greedy pirate's chest spilled before an unsuspecting beholder. Such were the dragons on the wing. They were every gem color I know, and every possible shape one could imagine." 
(from The Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb)



46 comments:

Melissa said...

I work at an independent bookstore, and it always warms my heart to hear about others who love books (in the physical sense) as much as I do. It especially makes me happy to hear authors like you, who benefit from all kinds of publication formats, touting the good of indies and spreading that love to your whole fan base. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now I'm going to get back to reading this great book I've been spending several months waiting for, called Days of Blood and Starlight. ;)

Connie Onnie said...

Last night while sitting in Changing Hands my friend Melissa and I were looking at her copy of Days of Blood & Starlight. We were talking about how much we loved the map and Melissa was saying how she would flip back to it in reference. We discussed how soft your cover was and how we just want to pet it.
My copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a little beat up because I gave it to people to read. I like seeing the evidence that a book has been shared and loved.
I have been thinking about getting an e-reader but mostly because my library has digital downloads and I have read some books on my phone. I will always buy books.

Steven M. Banks said...

You snob. Ebooks killing bookstores? Well, what about agents and publishers killing the dreams of writers, eh?

This post is nothing more than a stick your nose up at writers who haven't been as lucky as you. I expected more from you, Laini.

Amy Baskin said...

I wish I could tell you how much I love ebooks, Laini, if only to give you hope, but I'm in Sendak's camp on this one, only chances are I'll be alive through it all. I love flipping through pages. I even love the smell of books.

Thank you for the Robin Hobbs tip! Her series awaits, second only to Days of Blood and Starlight!

Jim Di Bartolo said...

This was a post about a love of bookstores as a whole, the experience of a physical book, the hope for both for future generations, and a recommendation for another author's series that Laini hasn't ever met. Yet you, "Mr Banks" took it as a personal attack on your frustrations with the publishing industry and turned your anger toward my wife. Classy.

Sarah Williams said...

I use my nook primarily for library books. I've checked out many of my library books this year as ebook. I can join any in the state, then borrow remotely through their Overdrive system.

Ebooks are great for trying new to you authors, be it from indie or self published, or ones the major publishers put on sale or for free. Great for "I was thinking of trying this...". I've tried several via ebook sale or library borrow that i've just had to go out and buy a print copy of.

This are is not so lucky as Portland. For B&M stores, we have 1 Barnes and Noble, 2 used book stores, and 2 Christian book stores, if that's your thing. We only just got our first new book selling indie book store on Halloween. So new that they hardly had much stock yet when I went last weekend. So I'm going to support them as I can, but since they are in a small shop now, I can't give up Barnes & Nobles yet. But I hope they do well, so they can expand and have author events, not just local authors, but some that are more well known authors as well.

Heido said...

I vote books! Real, physical, live BOOKS!

Melissa said...

I, personally, love the feel and weight of a book, and can't imagine reading on an e-reader. My oldest daughter has one -- mostly because she's planning on going overseas for a year, and wants to take books with her, and taking the physical ones isn't practical -- but she still gravitates to the actual physical thing.

I think you're right in saying that it's a good thing that people are reading. But as an employee at one of those independent bookstores that are struggling to figure out how to survive in this world, I do wish more people would put on their pants and drive across town to visit us. If only for the atmosphere.

Aubrey said...

I feel exactly the same way you do about bookstores. As you say, they "feed my soul." Ebooks make me sad for future generations.

Also, I am an unagented, unpublished writer who does NOT hold your success against you. It is writers like you who make me want to be a part of the professional writing community even more. You obviously write for the love of writing and not for fame and money, and I deeply respect that.

Amy Moran said...

I love my Kindle for exploring new books, but I've bought almost no books for it. Nearly every book I read on it is a library book, and half of those books are rubbish, anyway.

When I'm buying books (which I do when I love the author), I want the physical book so I can touch it and leave it lying around and hand it to friends and gaze at the cover.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Mr. DiBartolo.
"Mr Banks" must be a frustrated writer.
This is about a love for books and appreciation for the written word.

Annie said...

Robin Hobb is a delight! She just did an interview via Geek & Sundry's Sword & Laser (video is here: http://youtu.be/AxwPAtvh2PY) that you might find interesting. I was really intrigued by her discussion of her name (it's a pseudonym) and the factors she considered when choosing it.

The Farseer trilogy was my introduction to her writing; it's a set of books I can recommend wholeheartedly.

sari said...

I love books. I probably have about 20 books sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read. It's not something I'll ever give up. I knew, as a parent, I was doing the right thing when I took my youngest (age 5) to the library and he stood in the doorway and inhaled deeply and said "I love the SMELL of the library the best." :-)

Julia Muldoon (PiscesMuse) said...

Robin Hobb has long been one of my favourite authors ever!!! I found her looking for an Assassin book (not a style of book I normally go for but was in a weird kind of mood to try it out). I was also at the time ONLY reading male fantasy authors. I love her books with such a passion. Honestly, I push them on everyone I know who likes fantasy! Even those who are on the fence. I like that she really pushes her characters into truly challenging situations for them morally and what they are fighting for, and that she is not afraid to really push her characters. Also the story arch for the one daughter, the spoiled one... can't remember her name. I HATED her at first, but by the end she was truly one of my favourite characters. How Robin Hobb managed to make a complete come around with a character, makes me love her even more.

rhoadewriter said...

Nothing better than the smell of books!

Leah said...

i'm hoping we can find room in the new world for both. i have stacks and stacks of the real thing around my room, and a kindle-full for traveling (and when i JUST CAN'T WAIT for a new title, like days of blood and starlight - started reading it at 12:35am on Nov. 6th!) but it is a good reminder to show the love to our favorite little places, and not take them for granted.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of books, both real books and ebooks - I find that when there is a book I really love, however I came upon it (library, Kindle, whatever) - I always want to buy it in real, bound form, to have on my shelf, to look at, to touch, to hold... I too love a good library! But I find the ereader convenient. So I am conflicted. There are some books I have in both forms!

And YES! Robin Hobb! The Liveship Traders fits between the Farseer and the Tawny Man trilogies, chronologically - although they only share one character, and a world - but not really a plot. They are wonderful, engrossing, sad, and glorious. I hope you read them all!

Roxanne Galpin said...

I have an eReader but have not touched it in months. I find myself still pining away for and loving the printed word. As a little girl, a trip to the bookstore was a wonderful experience, a treat. As a grown up, it still is.

Donna Hosie said...

For series' I love paper books because they look nice on the shelf, but my IPad is great for storing books so I never find myself without one.

Everything can co-exist.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Taylor. You state "ebooks do huge harm..." Does this mean you will ask your publishers to remove YOUR ebooks from sale?

Touch hypercritical wouldn't you say? Some of my favorite books are available as ebooks only. Public domain means classics from Austen and Dickens are free as ebooks. If bookstores are dying, it is because they are not evolving with the world.

Yeti said...

I love my Kindle, I have read so many indie titles (good and bad) I would never have come across otherwise, and also it is so convenient when I'm on a book blog to just hop over to Amazon and purchase the amazing sounding books being reviewed...which is how I discovered Daughter of Smoke and Bone ;) and as soon as Days of Blodd and Starlight was available for Kindle pre-order, BAM! I'd pressed the 1 click, happy days :D Having said that, I do still go into book stores (big and small) and mooch around and purchase real books, order real books online too - especially for collections such as Mr Pratchett's books (love him!) and my Tove Jansson (OMG she got me into reading as a kid) collection. There really is room in this world for both, I don't think you have to give up one for the other. Damn, I've waffled on! Oh, and Mr Banks, WTFery? You need a coffee and a cake and to chill out!

dreamingbetweenthelines said...

When you talked about wanting books to build new wings in your mind - that's exactly how it feels. What makes me conflicted is I find that happening with ebooks too! If ebooks and Barnes & Noble and cool little indies can all coexist, that would be perfect. Books are works of art; I love to be able to see them, to see my history flowing through their covers. But I also love being able to get stories on my device in the blink of an eye! I consume stories at an extraordinary rate; e-readers feed that. And ebooks have opened the door to allow stories to be shared that couldn't have been otherwise. More stories, more storytellers... that's an amazing change. Still, if I read something via a device and I love it, I'll buy the physical book. Some books need to be consumed, some need to be possessed.

sari said...

Also, if you drop a book, it won't break. :-)

Jess said...

I love books. I prefer holding trillions of live books over modern technology. I'm very sure lots of lots public libraries will stay alive in the world of history forever.

June G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
territrimble said...

This is a beautiful love letter to books, Laini; thank you for writing it. I have a Sony Reader and although it's good for travelling, I don't love it, and have found I use it much less than I expected I would. I would much rather have a physical book in my hands, the experience of flipping back and forth between the pages easily, and having a left-hand and right-hand page. (For some reason, I can always remember where on the page a favourite passage is located, but not with e-books.)

I remember the tiny "teen" section in my library and the books I discovered there for the first time, the long stretch of golden-spined DAW paperbacks in my university's bookstore, the high shelves and woody smell of a used bookstore near my dormitory where I found so many old books that opened up new worlds to me. Without these physical places, I don't think I would have such vivid memories of discovering those books all these years later.

Mara Jurevicius said...

I have so many books that I can't display them all, and many of these dear inanimate friends are forced to sit in boxes in my closet. Lately I've been wondering: 'Should I give away a big portion of my collection and buy an eReader?' Reading your post, Laini, has made up my mind; I can't say goodbye to books! I agree with you, that there are few things more magical than going to a used book sale or independent book store and finding treasure. I have almost a thousand picture books, and I know that when I have kids someday, their lives will be enriched by holding and loving these gems, rather than a tablet.

Also, just think about the Neverending Story, which to me is one of the most soul-lifting books about books. The mystery of Coreander's shop could not have existed in a world of eReaders. And the giant tome with Auryn on the cover is just so ancient and awe inspiring! Please, technology, don't steal our magic!

June G said...

Now I do love my Nook and the convenience of it, especially when I'm traveling, but I'm definitely old school and LOVE a physical book. Even if I've read the ebook, if I love the story, I'm going to buy the physical book to put on my shelf. I'm reading the e-galley of Blood & Starlight, but I'll be buying the actual book because I want the whole gorgeous series on my shelf to peruse through at my leisure.

There's just something about a physical book one can clutch to one's bosom, sniff and leaf through, that can never be fulfilled by an ebook.

I just love how your husband, Jim, comes to your rescue, Laini, when a commenter gets a bit "overwrought", shall we say...lol...I only wonder if you run to him to point out said commenter, or if Jim is of a habit of reading the comments to make sure people are behaving themselves. In either case, it's adorable and proves chivalry isn't dead!

The very best to you, guys!

eveningstarjilly said...

I far prefer paper books, and Laini, it wasn't luck that got you where you are. Mr. Bank's calling it that was serious sour grapes. Your writing is gorgeous. You've earned every bit of it! That said, I discovered "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" as a Nook sample. It was enough to get me hooked, and I went out and bought the book at Wallace Books in Sellwood. Bought "Days of Blood and Starlight" at Broadway Books the first day it came out. I'd be heartbroken if there were no more physical books, and I hope "real" books and ebooks can coexist. I mainly download stuff that never was published as a paper book and wouldn't be available if it weren't for ebooks. I value both.

Laurence King said...

What a beautiful ode to books and Indie bookstores, Laini! I too prefer paper books. I have an iPad, which I use when I travel back and forth to Europe because baggage weight is limited and I always have to have at least 3 books with me at all times, but I am not in love with it. I love how the feel and smell of paper heighten the reading experience, how books can become art on display, a warming presence in a room...I hope they never go away...

cristina said...

I love this post, it is wonderfully written and you have very beautiful feelings for books. And I could not agree more. However, I do have an nook, and I do love it so - for many reasons, probably the most prominent being the ease with which I can purchase indie books and curl up with them, as I would published physical books (Angelfall by Susan Ee is one of these that I have to recommend if you haven't read it!). Also library rentals, trying new authors I'm weary of and...if I may be totally honest...trashy romance...I don't NEED a shelf of those, and one in a while, I do read them. (shame shame shame!)

For instance, with Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I downloaded an e-book version from my library because I was not entirely sure of it...but I felt compelled to read it. And then...IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. So, now both Daughter and soon Days sit proudly & prominently on my living room bookshelf. Love love. If I love a story, I need it in it's full, physical self as well.

ANYWAYS! Can't wait to see you in Miami next weekend!!!

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me think of a comment by Tori Amos in an interview in today's paper: "I'm waiting for the day when the power cuts out and everything is down for three weeks. I'll be the only person in the world who won't be in a panic. I'll have my piano, my books and my shoes." Right on Tori.

Alexandra Saperstein said...

This is one of my favorite posts you've ever written. There are a lot of places now around the country where there is NO bookstore, just an aisle or two at a Walmart or a Target, and this whole generation growing up may never know what they are missing. Being read books in the nook of your mother's arms as you go to sleep, turning back again and again to a favorite page or illustration. Books are dear friends, teachers, entertainers, confidantes, therapists, mentors, and professors all wrapped into a little miracle stack of pages.
And the loss of knowing what its like to receive real mail in your postbox. What would life have been without our BIGMAILS???? This gave me the kick I needed to start sending more minimal to Clementine so she never has to know such an awful fate.
So many of my best finds have been in little independent bookstores. Thank you for this superb, heartfelt post!

Cynthia said...

I love books. I am rather poor, so I get most of my books from the library. I love ordering books from the library and I love the wait as well as the thrill when they come in. There is nothing like a stack of books just waiting to be read.
Every year at Christmas time I do buy my favorite books from the past year and when I get books for my children I try to go to the independent store.
I am very torn when it comes to the tablets/Kindles what have you. I like the idea of all my thick books in a slim container and the fact that I won't have to lug around my big bag with books in it (I don't leave the house without a book), but I don't think that I'll make the leap anytime soon. I love my books way too much.

ayme said...

I totally agree. I do love holding real, physical books in my hands and I love my neighborhood independent bookstore...but I would add that I've read more than 50 ebooks on my iPad (including both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight!) since my son was born in February. They kept me awake through many long nights when I was terrified I was going to fall asleep while breastfeeding and drop him. So if it's any consolation, being able to tap to open a book and turn pages with a single finger made it possible for me to discover a whole world of stories that I never would have otherwise.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi all! Thanks for all the comments (well, almost all, ha!). I can't decide now if I was just being overwrought or not. I really meant it that I believe reading itself is the most important thing, not the format. Whoever it was that made a snide comment based on willfully misunderstanding my post (someone besides the embittered Mr. Banks), I truly mean it that I'm grateful to everyone who reads my books in any format, or whether they got it from the library or Amazon or an indie or if they borrowed it from a friend. (If they illegally downloaded it though, I am not grateful. That is theft and there is no excuse for it.) I have a number of friends who adore their e-readers, and my sister does too, and I see proof that some people are buying more books than ever as a result. This does not mean that e-books don't hurt independent bookstores, though. Some people don't care, and shrug and says it's the indies' fault and they should somehow make themselves competitive. I do care, because the relatively small number of people employed by these stores are not by any means the only ones hurt if they close. Communities are hurt, culture is hurt, and authors are hurt too. Indies are a place where passionate booksellers create word-of-mouth buzz.

Anyway, this is an issue I don't expect to resolve. It was just a lament. If indie bookstores go away, we will be a step closer to losing paper books, and that will be very, very sad for me as a reader. As a writer, I don't now how it might impact me.

As for the indie pub issue, I really wasn't thinking about that. I don't know much about the self-published ebook world, so I don't know what to say in response except that I don't *think* I suggested doing away with ebooks. I am grateful for the book sales, and acknowledged their convenience etc etc.
People just want to willfully misread, they have their own issues.

It was good to hear how many people commented above who read physical books and ebooks alike.

I wonder what is going to happen. That is all.

(Was traveling yesterday, so didn't get a chance to comment back as these posts came in. Thanks for weighing in!)

Jennifer said...

Agree, agree, agree! I love the physical book. And as someone who works in publishing I will always advocate for it and purchase it. I have no device and don't want one. I sit and look at a computer all day long, a book is a break for me and I loves it.

And viva la indie bookstores. Admittedly I get many giftcards to the chains and use those up but for books I love there's nothing like WORD Brooklyn or The Strand or Books of Wonder and so on. So much at your disposal and more times than not friendly staff.

Happy Touring!

Sarah Wedgbrow said...

I don't have an e-reader yet, but I've borrowed from my friend before and found there were a couple of lovely features (not as cumbersome as a hardcover when reading in bed, convenient). But the only reason I would ever get an e-reader for myself is if physical books were no more.
I feel the same way that you do in all regards to your post. To me, you were saying "don't forget the indies!" and what's wrong with that?
These days I go to bookstores for signings, to discover, to meet with my critique group, and to purchase books I've been waiting for. I use the library for books I'm on the fence about.
I'm all about an oral storytelling renaissance if things get desperate. :)

tone almhjell said...

Wonderful post, Laini. Yes. The weight of a book, the smell of the pages and the weave of the paper that used to be. To think the special hush of a booklined library may not be anymore, it just breaks my heart, too.

I do have hopes that it won't happen exactly the way it has done with music, with movies. The great thing about books is that they are their own medium. The don't require a translator - a thingamajig - to reach the reader/adventurer in question. So maybe they will not become entirely obsolete after all?

And Steven - huh. How is this about you? Completely baffling. To me it was clear that this was Laini the reader, Laini the recipient, Laini the adventurer, worrying that her beloved ships that has taken her everywhere - just might be about to sink. A lament, yes, spoken from the shores. I think you missed the point spectacularly. Although I do hope you continue writing stories - hewn in stone or typed into boxes - we are all one big tribe of travelers here.

And Robin Hobb - love her. I read the Liveship trilogy first, too. So clever, so rich. I love Althea, and I adore Malta. Am about to go into the Rain Wilds for the third book.

Laini Taylor said...

Aaauuughhh! Tone, and another hint above that Malta ceases to be the absolute worst person EVER?? So glad to hear it. I love a good character growth arc. But man is she a nasty little minx now. Just beginning to show some dawning signs of better things to come for her. (Dragons!!!!! Holy crap! The origin of wizardwood turns out to be even more genius than everything else so far. I'm in love. Planning to go from Book 3 to the Dragon Keeper series. That leapfrogs a bunch of others, but seems to make sense. Thoughts?

tone almhjell said...

Let's see- Hmm. Hmm. I was about to say yes, but then I remembered the whole Tawny Man story arc and - no. They're all sort of interlocked. Anyone? I'm reading Rain Wilds "now" - I think the previous book was a couple of years ago - but it's been ages since I read the others.

tone almhjell said...

(And when I say "now" I mean it's next in line, because before that there is just one word: cathedral. Ohoh.)

Jess said...

Laini. Thank you for sharing this article. I really understand of what you're getting at. I really wish bookstores and libraries stay forever because I want a lot of children to hold more books.

Emma said...

I've actually gone backward. After shunning them for years due to their hefty size, I am now an avid collector of hardbacks.

Anonymous said...

Books, the kind you hold in your hands with pages that get yellowed or damp and curly, the kind you can read in the sun (sun glares off your tablet) or in the bathtub (honestly I don't read my kindle in the bathtub)! AND - I LOVELOVELOVE indie bookstores...if I had to choose, I would choose books and libraries and Powell's and all those little indie stores. BUT - wouldn't it be great if e-readers didn't push the indie stores out of our lives? Because I do have a kindle and I do use it on planes...MOSTLY THOUGH - I love e-readers for the many many independent writers who bring us books that the publishers have decided (for us) that we won't read.

Lissa said...

While I have e-books and love my Nook, I completely agree with your assessment. I will always buy real books because there is just something about holding a book in your hands and leafing through it. No e-reader can duplicate that experience. There are certain books I just HAVE to physically own - Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight being some of them.

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