Three days ago, Amazon announced that sales of e-books are surpassing sales of actual books. Reading a Kindle, iPad, or Nook while on a business trip or even a commute on the subway makes sense to me. Newspapers and magazines are also available electronically. It's easier on the environment. Fewer trees used to make paper editions. Makes sense, but not my cup of tea.
Once upon a time in America, few people had the means to buy books. They were very expensive. The folks at Colonial Williamsburg will tell you how a blank ledger book could cost almost a month's wages. Even though costs came down, books still remained out of reach for most. Enter Andrew Carnegie and his Robber Baron philanthropy.
Libraries put books within reach of thousands. But slowly books became cheaper for people to own, becoming like a lot of other things in American society - disposable. Leaving a paperback on the beach wasn't a big deal. Just buy another one.
Last night, Deirdre (my middle child) and I went to a lecture by a noted historian and author who also writes historical fiction along with her nonfiction. Deirdre loves the historical fiction and has begun reading the nonfiction as well. After the lecture, the author was available to sign her books. The queue passed the table with stacks of her books for sale. Our two books were brought from home, purchased years ago for one and months ago for the other.
In line in front of us was a lady with a box of audio CDs she wanted signed. The author had a most difficult time signing the box since the front was dark colored and the reverse was filled with writing. She had to resort to a Sharpie to make it visible. But it was back to a pen for our books which she signed on the page before the title page with a huge flourishy signature.
Having watched her confusion of dealing with signing a box, which is still a sale, I walked away wondering how in the world she would sign a Kindle.