From the Kindle to the iPad, e-readers are revolutionizing reading. They are handy, instantaneous, and spreading like wildfire. What they will never give you is the pleasure of wandering through the aisles of a bookstore.
John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor
Just a few days apart this fall, the Borders bookstore chain turned the lights out and Amazon debuted a new version of its Kindle e-reader. If ever there was an example of creative destruction, this was it. The onetime megabookstore that once was blamed (along with Barnes & Noble) for slaying independent bookstores was done in by the even more mega bookstore in the cyber cloud.
I confess to participating in the plundering of Borders. Everything – even the shelves and coffee bar – was 90 percent off. My car filled up with sumptuous volumes on cooking, travel, and gardening. For almost no money, I own how-to manuals that will make me a better carpenter and conversationalist, and one, appealing to my inner Boy Scout, promised to help me survive in the wild. I brought home hardbacks to replace worn-out paperbacks, humor anthologies I might only have shoplifted a chortle from in the past, and a handy epigrammatical collection (Who said “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?” That would be Henry Ward Beecher.)