Yesterday, I took my youngest son to the local water park. We have season passes, the afternoon was hot, and I needed to get away from my computer. Yeah, that actually happens from time to time.
Before I get into the meat of my blog post today, I want to take a moment to be a dad. It was Mathew's first trip down a real, adult-sized water slide. He was just tall enough to go. Finally! At last! He was bouncing off the walls with excitement. The first one we went down together in a shared inflatable raft. He went nuts at the end. To a nine-year-old it was ZOMG!thebestthing evAAAARRRR!!!! We went on a couple more, until eventually, the wait in line began to win out over the excitement and awesomeness of the slides. Besides, the wave pool was calling. So off we went: Mathew to the wave pool, me to lounge in the shade with my Kindle.
And now, here we go with what I'm here to talk about today.
While I was sitting reading, I got a lot of attention from the 12-20ish crowd due to the nifty-looking piece of geek-tech (as I like to call stuff like this). They all wanted to know what I was doing. Some waited for me to look up, some didn't bother and just asked outright. The only one that was really irritating was a really young kid that kept leaning over my shoulder and dripping on me. However, this personal-space-invading youngster is kind of the point of my post.
Most of the kids I spoke with thought I had some kind of weird new computer thing. I explained that it was just an electronic reader and that it was really just for reading books. It was technically capable of doing other things, but those things were not its intended purpose, and I didn't use those functions much; I just loved my Kindle for reading. I have to admit, I also enjoyed showing off the cover of First Chosen (Tears of Rage), which impressed a few of them.
A couple of kids asked me how much it was. I told them the general price range from the really high-end models, to the low-end one with the ads for $114, I think it is. Most nodded in that sage way that teenagers do when they don't want to look uncool. One kid said something like, "Man, I'm going to have to see if I can get some extra hours at work so I can get one." Then all of his friends started talking about getting a Kindle too, all five of them.
I want to thank those young men, though they'll probably never read my blog for driving home the lesson that I should have picked up from my own blog post yesterday. Without being specific, these five young men were from an ethnicity different from mine, with at least a dozen tattoos among them. I'd been a bit nervous at first about one of them trying to snatch my Kindle and taking off. We had a very pleasant conversation, and while their spoken English wasn't what I'd call perfect, they were all polite and seemed genuinely interested. One of them had the coolest reaction to my published novel, and when I explained Kindle's publication process and that Amazon gives free readers, he said something like, "I'm going to have to pay more attention in English." Another of his friends said, "I'll by your book if you write one." He was speaking to his friend, not to me. This conversation reminded me not to hold onto the stereotypes, again.
I know many people complain about Amazon being the downfall of the traditional book store. This may be so, but I doubt it. Some people will always want to hold that physical book and flip pages. I'm one of them. Book lovers will want to get signed copies from their favorite writers. I'm one of them. I Have a very nice signed book collection. Readers will always want to browse the book shelves, looking for possible new gems without having to click and wait for a screen to load. Again, I'm right there. No, traditional booksellers are not in danger. We may see less of them, or the independent bookseller may make a comeback, but they won't be gone.
As a quick shout out: I do most of my book shopping at http://www.avidreaderbooks.com/. If you're in the Sacramento/Davis area, they are really great, friendly, and if they don't have the book you're looking for, they can get it in a few days.
On the other hand, eReaders are getting more and more popular. They don't take up as much space as a regular book, AND you can keep your entire library with you. My chief joy is being able to have magazine subscriptions again! I was plowing though last months edition of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine while Mathew splashed around. No more pesky back issues causing clutter. I wish more Magazines would jump on the eBook bandwagon, but I digress.
In my opinion, the best thing about eReaders is that they make reading look cool. If that can get teenagers to pick them up and start reading, even if it's just so they can look cool to their friends, or that cute guy/girl on the other side of the classroom/cafeteria/quad, I'm all for them!
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."