While visiting my parents over the 4th of July, I was reminded of the tradition of book gifting. Books as holiday or birthday gifts, or perhaps handing down a book from generation to generation.
Thinking of this fond memory as I drove home, I wondered, how would parents or grandparents pass on a book and would it hold the same sentimental value or importance if a kindle, nook or e-book were the only format?
Generations from now, where will this sacrament of book gift giving be? How would a grandfather give a book to his grandson if the only format available is electronic? "Here grandson, let me email you this book" Not sure if the gesture would have the same meaning. Given it further thought, how many times have you passed along a book and inscribed it to that special recipient? How would you inscribe it with only a Kindle or Nook? Email the message?
Will book signings become a thing of the past? I've been to a few in my day and the pleasure of meeting your favorite author and listening to his/her thoughts on a book is a great experience. Truly these traditions will stand the test of time?
If what we see today at Drexel University is the future, may be not. A great friend and reader passed along a Time Magazine article, Is a Bookless Library, Still a Library? In this article by Tim Newcomb, best selling author Michael Connelly shares an inspiration of a kind - the perusing of his campus' library and its stacks of books led to his writing career . Would or could one be inspired by e-books? Walking along a row of computers, looking for a book to read? If a library would no longer contain books, what would be the purpose of the library to begin with? Catch more of the article in last weeks Time: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079800,00.html
A further sign of the times, Borders bookstores today announced the beginning of their liquidation. Although sources have revealed that Books a Million is in talks to purchase some of the stores, the big box book retailers are all but gone. BAM and Barnes-n-Noble being the only true big box retailers now remaining.
So, will hardcover and paperback books cease to exist? Perhaps the fall of big box stores will lead to the rise in used books stores, such as Half Price Books.
These hard covered bound, paper back covered treasures - a signed book by a parent, grandparent, friend, author and those rare first editions - - are becoming more valuable then ever.