Musings on Books and Bookstores

5936601215_1c3cd64540_bphoto credit: Joot Books (Amsterdam) via photopin (license)

For Christmas, I received a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card.  I had a few options:

  1. Buy books
  2. Go through the entire Barnes and Noble Starbucks Café menu
  3. Regift the gift card
  4. Wait until college to buy textbooks

For once, I was determined to spend the money, and not just on overpriced drinks.

I’ve gone to Barnes and Noble twice with my laptop to get some work done and figure out what books to buy. And after five hours and two caffeinated drinks, browsing books during breaks, I am stuck.

I never realized that books were so expensive. Spending $25 on a book I would only read once was terrifying. Even $15 was a stretch. Why would I want to buy a book when I could borrow it for free? I visited the library frequently as a child, and I still use my school’s library and my city’s ebook library. I decided to pick books that I would most likely read more than once or books that I had trouble getting ahold of.

At the library, I used to choose books based on the inside front cover description, with no outside opinions. Now, I scanned each book with the Goodreads app on my phone to see how many reviews the book had, and whether those reviews were positive.  Since I was spending money on the book, it became an investment. Later, I realized that every book was cheaper online, whether through Barnes & Noble or through Amazon.

It’s no secret that physical bookstores are losing ground. (RIP to the Borders that was a mile from my house.)  But there’s still something to be said about marveling at the quantity and quality of books available. Unlimited previews, not just a preview of the first chapter like on Amazon. Zero delay at waiting for a book.

The Oatmeal had a comic about what the future of the music industry should look like. I’d like to see the book industry evolve towards something similar. Supporting authors seems to be the only valid reason to buy a book, and the fewer middlemen the better.

After all this browsing, I’ve narrowed down my list:

  1. Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol
  2. On Writing Well, William Zinsser
  3. How to Win at College, Cal Newport
  4. Daily Rituals, Mason Currey
  5. The Shallows, Nicholas Carr

Still not sure which ones I’ll buy, or if I’ll ever get around to reading them.

Side note: Follow me on Goodreads

2 thoughts on “Musings on Books and Bookstores

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