The other day I dragged myself to the gym. (Yes, I do manage to accomplish that once in awhile.) The man on the treadmill next to me, who later introduced himself as Richard, was reading a Michael Connelly novel and I was reading Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson.
We were discussing the vagaries of putting books on hold at our local library. The owner of the gym, George, stopped by and joined our conversation. George has 4000 books at his house (I thought I had a lot) and related a story about a recent shopping trip to Powell’s.
Anyway, George contends that people don’t read books any longer. Richard and I nodded our heads and commiserated with this statement, even though I’m not sure its true. Is it true? One does hear an awful lot about declining bookstore revenues and publishers consolidating.
But a week or so ago I was reading a book about blogging, and I’ve read so many lately I can’t remember which one. The author made an interesting point–that all of a sudden, writing is important again. He interviewed a blogger (I’ve got to go through my books and figure out where I got this) who talked about how when he was growing up it wasn’t hip to be a writer. But now, suddenly, it is.
The number of blogs in existence doubles every six months or so. Blogs are based on writing, duh. Websites proliferate–and lord knows, those of us who write SEO copy are VERY aware of how much writing they require.
So suddenly words are multiplying like crazy and yet there are no readers. What gives?
In some ways it pains me to say this, but what gives is that we’re reading differently Reading on the web on a coffee break instead of cracking open the novel or a magazine for a few minutes. Reading the news on our yahoo home page because we’re at the computer anyway.
What’s missing in all this is the good old fashioned book. We even read those on the internet these days–witness the boom in e-books.
I maintain that computers will never replace the book. There’s something so tactile and sensual about holding a book in your hands, feeling its heft, smelling the paper, seeing the words. Like George, I love books and buy way too many of them.
And yet I spend untold hours a day at my computer, digesting words. If I’m lucky, I spend half an hour reading a book.