I’ve been reading ever since I was a little kid. It feels almost as natural as eating. A while back, while riding the subway, a little girl saw me reading something funny and laughing.
“He’s reading, and he’s laughing,” the little girl remarked to her mother. Her mother shushed her, as if it were a remark not to be made in polite company.
I guess that for the people in the girl’s life, reading was a difficult chore, and not something to laugh about.
And for much of my life, I would go to a Barnes and Noble bookstore to pick up something to read. In the 1990s, I would often spend a lazy Saturday at Tower Records followed by Barnes and Noble. I would pick up something on computers, on how to meet women (not that the advice in those books ever worked), or a remaindered war novel.
There is a Barnes and Noble two blocks from my office. I was last there two years ago, on a weekday. I felt guilty for browsing when I should have been back at my desk, working. On the main floor was a display of the Nook e-book reader that they were selling.
Shooting themselves in the foot, I thought. An essential part of the joy of books is holding them in your hand, sampling, selecting.
And then I bought my tablet. It doesn’t feel the same as a book, but it’s close enough. The words go down good. But the browsing experience is not the same. I choose my books now by recommendations or comments that I read in the newspaper or a blog.
This morning, I got an e-mail from Barnes and Noble, offering me 20% off one item. Alas, I will not take them up on it, although I’d love to.
I simply do not have the time.