Monday, October 29, 2012


Elliot Bay Books in Seattle
Will there be a day we consider print bookstore museums? And what will the people then think of all of us now who love bookstores, the really large ones, the small, musty used ones, the speciality ones, and any of them?

Will there be a day the only books will be in libraries and small specialty bookstores? As the size of the largest bookstores in the US shrinks, eg. Powell's in Portland, Oregon, the University of Washington in Seattle, etc., where will we get print books if want one?

Will print books only be available with the print-on-demand services some bookstores have now? You search the catalog, select one, pay and wait for it to print? As much as people dislike print books they have some advantages.

They don't need batteries or charging. They make good paperweights. They allow you to scribble and take notes in them. They allow you to browse and reference between pages without scrolling. They take postit note page markers. And they allow you to feel good about reading.

I was never much of a reader being mostly what I call a research reader, meaning reading parts of a lot of books. I've read lots of journal articles for my graduate school and career. I've even read the complete works of Sherlock Holmes, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, and others.

I have the complete works of John Burroughs, the Wake Robin editon, and have read a few of the volumes. There's something about sitting down with a book printed a century ago to read the words someone thought and wrote years and even decades before that.

It teaches me we're human and while our lives have improved and our knowledge expanded, some of the basic ideas of being a humand and person haven't changed. It makes me wonder what they thought of the times and the future, the one we're living.

And I'm slowly learning to read digital formats, but I still love print books. I collect historic documents, reports and books on Mt. Rainier NP and enjoy reading them cover to cover. There's a lot more to them than just the content. You see context.

I also love and collect old geography books which have the old line drawings. It's always interesting to see how the author described the world then, much of it diferently than now, but still worth learning considering the times they lived. We assume a lot and sometimes it's interesting to see what we have assumed before it was known.

Anyway, just a thought on a rainy, windy northwest fall morning.

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