Booksellers celebrated the inaugural Independent Bookstore Day on May 2, 2015, with author events, discounts and giveaways, tasty treats, and special literary-themed merchandise available exclusively at 400 bookstores across the country. “Overall, the day was a great one,” said Samantha Schoech, Independent Bookstore Day’s program director. “And, of course, we learned a lot about how to proceed for next year.” Early results from a survey of the participating stores showed solid sales gains, with 80 percent of the responding stores reporting a sales increase over the first Saturday of May 2014, reported on the ABA website.
Are digital or hardcopy books better?
The answer many are eager to learn is whether a digital book is better than a printed book? The research is not definitive but provides some insight into the benefits of reading as a total emotional and physical experience. Maryanne Wolf, professor at Tufts University and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain,” says “We are not only what we read but how we read.”
Wolf studies the cognitive process of reading, and she thought she was immune to the pitfalls that she cataloged in others, but discovered her assumptions were wrong. Wolf found that her brain was physically altered from the scanning and flitting type of reading she performed during the day, which was different from immersion reading one experiences while reading a novel for example. Her ability to concentrate for longer periods of time was compromised, and she had to read passages over and over to comprehend.
It took her two full weeks to regain the sort of immersive reading experience she once enjoyed. "For me the great lesson was that what we do during the day bleeds over into what we do during the night," she says. "The immersion online is always in some ways shadowed, if you will, by this constant reminder that we should be doing something else, too; that our email is just a click away; that there is this almost incessant feeling of 'Well, I should go faster,' instead of 'I should immerse myself.' "
Another seemingly unlikely advocate for hard copy books is David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale University. He is a pioneer in advancing “parallel computation,” but he admires the design of codex. “It’s an inspiration of the very first order. …It’s made to fit human hands and human eyes and human laps in the way that computers are not.” When pondering why the rush to cast aside the printed book that has endured for centuries he said, “It’s not as if books have lost an argument. The problem is there hasn’t been an argument. Technology always gets free pass. People take it for granted that if the technology is new it must be better,” he related to NPR.
This writer enjoys the best of both worlds, and the statistics show readers also want the convenience and low cost of digital books as well as the romance and sensory adventure of visiting an independent book store in person or online. Nothing can replace the anticipation of either visiting the used book store with its old volumes containing musty slightly yellowing pages or waiting for the book to arrive in the mail from a tried and true online used book store like alibris.com in the US or Charing Cross Road Books in London.
Visit ten best independent book stores in the UK listed in The Guardian here.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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