If you're like me, part of the pleasure of reading lies in the hunt for a new book. Whether I'm wandering the cheerful aisles of the local chain bookstore, thumbing through the latest best sellers or navigating around the stacks of dusty but appreciated towers of knowledge in the second-hand book shop on Main Street, I love book stores. I love the crowded ones, the empty ones, the new ones, and the old ones. Memories of book stores and book auctions linger in my mind in the same way, I imagine, as a wine connoisseur remembers his first tasting room tour of California’s Napa Valley or the Chardon region in France.
But with the introduction of the digital reader the fate of the paperback book is uncertain. There are several varieties on the market right now, including Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Digital Book, each with easy-to-use features that make them a serious temptation to the digital savvy reader. They’re lightweight, cheerful little gadgets that stand in direct contrast to the serious, weighty novels that dogged our graduate school reading lists and undergraduate nightmares. But what should happen to the traditional book as we know it should these creatures take hold? Will the romance paperback, with its campy portrayal of the blonde damsel in distress, be replaced by an unimaginative, digital title page in Times New Roman typeface? Will the small, locally-owned book shop be replaced by an impersonal, online catalogue?
I surely hope not.