So many R&BLers are owners of e-readers, those habit forming devices that allow us to carry a world of libraries and bookstores in our hands and enable us to have instant access to them and, with some e-readers, to the Internet. Just recently, as an owner of one of those tools of the Devil, two events in my life created a serendipitous collusion. First I discovered a web site that allows me to lend and borrow e-books absolutely free. All I have to do is register to become a user. And second, I borrowed my first book from a stranger, using that web site, which is perfectly apropos to a theme I’ve harped on over the past few months – that electronic reading devices are changing our society and way of acquiring information in as profound a manner as Gutenberg’s printing press did 570 odd years ago.
The web site is Lendle. The book is The Last Bookstore in America by Amy Stewart. The beauty of Lendle is that e-books can be shared by owners of practically any e-reader, not just Kindles. The beauty of the novel is that it’s a balance between the humor and the tragedy of the situation this technology has got us into.
Please turn the page.
I love using that anachronistic sentence to get my readers into the extended text part of my diaries. It embodies the same conflicting concepts that Stewart’s novel does. No tangible action is really needed to go on reading further once you open the post in full screen. Similarly, once you own an e-reader, you no longer need to physically go out and buy a physical book, much less set arm, wrist, and flanges in motion in conjunction with hand-eye coordination and sometimes a dampening of the fingertips in order to proceed in your book. Now it just takes a twitch of the thumb, just a press of the inside knuckle on the button of your device and the next page of your adventure unfolds under your eyes.
We have reduced that acquisition of knowledge to a binary act. Books, information, movies, television, radio, live events all come to us literally at the push of a button – on and off, on and off.
The ease of accomplishing near the speed of light what once took months, journeys, hardships, and great expense are so cheap and easy as to be insulting to the memory of our ancestors’ toil to get the same thing done: to write or find a book that provided the information you wanted to know or let others know. Everything digitized is ours for free or for negligible expenditure of treasure and sweat.
Kindle (and other e-readers like it) is making the printed book obsolete and Lendle (and other web sites like it) is making libraries obsolete, and they’ve both made bookstores ditto.
For all my love of tree books, I eagerly embrace the e-reading era. I own a Kindle and intend to own a Kindle Fire very soon. I buy e-books from Amazon, I acquire them for free from Gutenberg Project and other such web sites, I borrow them from my public library, and now I can loan them to perfect strangers. This is a wonderful new wrinkle. I can, admittedly in a limited way, recycle my e-books. No longer do they just become dusty archives on that great big server in the virtual sky. Currently, they can journey from my e-library to yours once for 14 days to be enjoyed by you at no cost.
I am become a bookstore, a library, a publishing company, an Internet hub, and a reading room anywhere where I am because I own a Kindle e-reader and have registered with Lendle.
If you’d like to be “all that” too, please check out the Lendle web site and see if it’s for you. If it is, please use my referral code, 424DLJBX, when you register. Your doing so gets me all kinds of rewards, possibly a lifetime supply of cold beer, I don’t know. I’m not clear on what it does for me precisely other than earning me more borrowing privileges. In addition, there are other attractive perks associated with membership.
Now, about that book, The Last Bookstore in America, here’s my personal journal entry. If you’re intrigued enough to want to read it, I suggest you join Lendle and put in a request to borrow it, just like I did! [Apologies but I am inexplicably unable to upload images to my Photobucket account. So no cover art in this post.]
Lewis inherits one of the last bookstores in America, the Firebreathing Dragon, from his Uncle Sy in an age when the Gizmo (manufactured by Nile.com) streams all the digitized text in the world directly to your phone. The establishment, located in Eureka, CA is in the heart of America’s liberal pot-smoking country. How is it that Sy’s bookstore has remained profitable when others are going belly up on the heels of each other? But it does. Over $1M a year, when Lewis and his reluctant wife, Emily, take a look at the books.
After a few weeks spent in the dark, all is revealed when Emily buys Lewis a present from his own store, and in a moment of distraction, Crawford and Gillian, the long-time employees, include an ounce of weed in the bag – which spills the cat. Edith, who has been, until his death, Sy’s lifelong girlfriend, is the renowned grower of a select strain of marijuana plants in her garden on the property that includes Sy’s decrepit Victorian house, stuffed to the rafters with Hollywood souvenirs, mostly in the form of movie props. All of which Lewis has inherited; none of which either he or Emily is sure s/he wants.
This book is a charming and warm story whose theme is the changing book throughout history. Will the collectible tangible, quirky, individual tree volume survive the advent of the e-book? Will it all evolve into something else and unexpected? In Stewart’s world view, people no longer have the attention span to read 85,000 word tomes cover-to-cover. Besides, who needs to clutter their lives with heavy paper when anything and everything is streamed to your device for a low monthly fee? But even e-book sales are declining and Maxine, Ms Nile.com, has another idea to re-inspire her e-customers.
For a small town, Eureka crawls with myriad and diverse characters, all of whom seem to be patrons of the Firebreathing Dragon, though they never actually read a book. And all of whom Stewart realistically breathes life into. Thoroughly enjoyed this light yet gently meaningful novel that has plenty to say about where we’re going on the Information Highway. Would recommend it to everyone who loves books and reading and worries about what reading devices portend for literature, publishing, and our literary culture. It’s a timely story of our age and in the history of the book.
Did you know that R&BLers now has 691 Followers, making it the second most followed Group on Daily Kos? Please, if you haven't already hearted us, do so now by clicking the HEART symbol next to our Group Name, and let's push over the 700 number. Ha! We can redefine the meaning of the "700 Club"! Sweet.
Question: Why doesn't R&BLers have a Monday Murder Party Night? Surely, someone amongst our followers and contributors loves the mystery genre in all its forms enough to host a regular series. Like the ever popular series, Books That Changed My Life, I suspect it would be a snap to line up eager writers who want to share their favorite historical, police procedural, futuristic, international detective novel with the rest of us. Who doesn't want to talk about Miss Marple, Stephanie Plum, Master William Falconer, Brother Cadfael, Didius Falco, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Mma Precious Ramotswe?
e-Readers & Book Club Announcement
Our next e-read is Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan by Anna Badkhen. $2.99 Kindle. Please have read the book by our meet date of Nov. 3rd, 2 PM ET. I look forward to seeing you there!
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
||3:00 PM (intermittent)
||The Magic Theater
||Young Reader's Pavilion
||The Book Bear
||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club
||Readers & Book Lovers Newsletter
||2:00 PM (bi-weekly)
||eReaders & Book Lovers Club
||Books That Changed My Life
||10:00 PM (first of month)
||Books So Bad They're Good
Though not part of R&BLers Weekly Magazine Series, please look for "Indigo Kalliope: Poems From the Left" by various authors republished here every WED NOON by aravir
. Also look for "The Mad Logophile" by Purple Priestess
that appears intermittently, when the spirit moves her.
Other than that, nothing's happening.