I can’t be the only lover contemplating sneaking out on my beloved.
Some of you other book-lovers share my guilty fantasizing about getting a Kindle. Right?
Like you, I’m sold on the technology, which I could get either as the Kindle proper or as an iPhone ap. What could be cooler than deciding I want a book and being able to get it instantly?
I’m hesitating only because of Powell’s Books–the country’s best bookstore which has its huge mothership on the edge of downtown Portland, and is the destination for a significant chunk of my disposable income. Anything that could wound or shorten the life of this great company worries me.
Sooner or later, though, I’m going to give in. I’ll be just like my friends who so proudly declared “I don’t own a cellphone,” only to find themselves late for something important while stuck behind one of Portland’s raised bridges during its leisurely upppppp and downnnnnnn to let a ship pass under.
Technology has a way of twining itself around your legs like kudzu, no matter how determinedly you swing the scythe.
So, here’s my idea: Create a BookTithe option on each digital book purchase. It can work just like that Presidential election campaign question on the 1040 tax form. Do you want to contribute to your favorite independent bookstore? Check this box.
Now, true, this contribution is real, out-of-the-wallet dough, not the seemingly abstract money to the Presidential election fund. And also true that the ten percent I send to Powell’s is not going to make up for the $10 or $25 I didn’t spend on a book there. But it’s better than nothing. And if I spend the usual $9.99 for the Kindle book (typically a lower price than a new actual book) I can surely afford kicking in some of the savings to a bricks-and-mortar store of my choosing. Plus, it’s no threat to Amazon, B&N and the other giants of the electronic-book world.
No matter how many bells and whistles they put on electronic readers, we still need real stores. Browsing, buying and selling old books is vital activity. How else can I find that treasure of a new, unknown author? No amount of clicking through lists is every going to have the soothing properties of wandering Powell’s aisles. I’d love to be able to buy a book in the middle of some insomniac night…but the ability to do so shouldn’t replace the bookstore.
It can’t be too hard to set this up. The person who built the Kindle must be looking for work by now, surely.
--Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, TypeLikeTheWind.com