Barnes and Noble Book
Thinking about the NOOK?

Does anyone else think it’s funny that Barnes & Noble sells and promotes the one tool that could make their very existence as a bookstore obsolete?

Sure, we’re saving trees that way. And yes, it’s a sign of the times, everything digital. And yeah, the idea is that people are going to buy one NOOK and then buy their books (at cheaper prices than the tangible version) through the Barnes & Noble brand for years to come, right? Right. So what’s the problem, you ask? E-readers are supposed to do what the iPod did for the music industry; it’s going to be great! Oh, wait….

If you’re anything like me – that is, somewhat of a traditionalist and/or someone who thinks books are a valuable part of culture – then you aren’t too happy about this contraption. And with Borders going under, what does the future of books look like? I mean real books, ones you can hold in your hands that smell like vanilla years after you first buy them.

I know what you’re thinking: “This hack is probably some baby-boomer who doesn’t know what texting is, let alone how to use a NOOK.” Wrong. I’m Gen Y and I know how to use every gadget you throw at me. I’ll be an advocate of technology till I perish or get cryogenically frozen to be defrosted at a later date.

But not this monster, not this little destroyer of all things I love in this world. Alright, alright, a little dramatic? Maybe.

Regardless of my theatrics, I am frightened of what the print publishing industry will look like in a few years. Through the writing blogs that I follow, the business reports that I’ve seen, the downward spiral that is the global economy and the “40% off” signs I see at every Borders, I’ve been getting the feeling lately that it doesn’t look good.

The future of reading as we know it is at risk. The financial straits of every retailer these days are a bummer, definitely, but what about the reading? Statistics already say that 42% of Americans do not read another book once they leave college. What happens when the bookstore is 15 miles away instead of 2? Doesn’t that scare anyone but me? I feel like I’m in a Ray Bradbury-esque nightmare.

The theory is that bookstores can make more money via E-Readers which would help them stay afloat. Say everyone bought one, the advertising was phenomenal. You would only ever need one E-Reader, unless yours broke of course, but in general let’s say they are made well enough that this won’t ever happen. So you’re sitting there with the only thing you’ll ever need to read, and you get to buy books for cheaper than at the store which is fantastic, paper prices are astronomical these days. Eventually enough people will have one and no one will buy real books. Right now bookstores are already struggling, so someone explain to me: how is this supposed to help?

Yeah, I thought so too.

Save a book, don’t buy a NOOK.