Philip Athans, over at Grasping for the Wind, clued me in to a special occasion for today: Buy a Book Day!
If you've got a bookstore in your neck of the woods, especially an independent bookstore, today's the day to pay them a visit. And, if you're like me, it's probably been a few months since you've set foot in a bookstore--not counting used-book shops.
Thanks to Book Depository, Smashwords, and Amazon's Kindle Store, online book shopping has been shamefully convenient--and a lot cheaper thanks to a bounty of bargains. But, there's a personal experience to visiting a brick-and-mortar store that you just don't get from clicking on a "Buy" button.
For one thing, there are actual people you can interact with as you browse. Maybe you already know what book you want, but when you are looking for something to jump out at you, yet you don't exactly know where to turn, there's usually someone working in that store that can offer an opinion and make a few recommendations. And, more often than not, those recommendations work out a wee bit better than Amazon's "People who bought this also bought ..." feature.
There's also the simple, tactile experience of holding a book in your hands. Inside a bookstore, you can pick up a book, flip through its pages, even feel the weight of it. The books are tangible items. Online, you may as well see each book behind a glass case as if in a fish tank behind a velvet rope. Imagine buying a pet or groceries that way. If books are impersonal, disposable items for you, it's no big deal, but readers often build attachments, even relationships, with the stories we read. And, those bonds with books are made all the stronger from those initial contacts we make by physically holding them. Sounds kind of weird to put it like that, I'll admit, but am I wrong?
When I go to the bookstore, I won't really know ahead of time what book I'll get. I have a wish list a mile long, but there are no huge bookstores where I live, so the shelf space is limited. It'll be unreasonable to expect many, if any, dark fiction titles I have my eye on to be shelved. So, I'm counting on finding a book I might otherwise not consider to jump out at me. I've discovered some very entertaining books that way. And, if that doesn't work, I'm sure there's someone there who can point me in the right direction.
Wish me luck. Bookstores are closing every day around the world. We need to support them. Why? Well, imagine a world without them. That's a cringe-inducing prospect.