A Book By Any Other Name


I'm starting to feel like a literary dinosaur, or maybe like a forty-year-old size 10 feels in Hollywood. Why? Because the world of books as I know it is changing.

My hat is off to Rebecca Yarros and J. K. Rowling but, frankly, I don't have any interest in reading OR writing about dragons or wizards. I like to read and write about normal people with normal lifestyles. (Well, actually, I like to read and write about Southern people with Southern lifestyles which, to some, is weirder than wizards, but that's only if you didn't grow up eating grits and collards. Not together, mind you; that would be weird.) I appreciate an old Star Trek episode as much as anyone, but when it comes to literature, I like my plots to revolve around familiar things and my characters to come from Planet Earth. (Okay, I admit that Douglas Adams did lure me into paranormal places and I enjoyed it, so I get points for being a little flexible.)

Furthermore, I do not want to cozy up with a Kindle; I want to curl up with a book. I get constant sales pitches telling me how wonderful Kindle is. Maybe so, but I'm not interested. I like my tales to come with pages and covers and pictures and blurbs that help me decide if I'm going to invest myself in that story or not. I like to walk by and touch old favorites on my bookshelves and remember the first time I read them, or how significant they've been in my life. Some of those books I loved as a child wound up in the hands of my children and I am eagerly and carefully preserving them for my grandchildren; what joy!

In my wildest dreams, I can't envision a world with no books. Is it possible to have the same relationship with a cold, hard, soulless techno-toy as one has with a beautiful first edition? I think not. Are turned-down corners and beautiful bookmarks destined to go the way of the formal dining room: fondly remembered but rarely used? One of the sillier justifications I keep hearing for the Kindle is that it can store text for up to a thousand books. Since the average person reads barely five books a year, that "benefit" seems a tad overblown--kind of like calling up a 747 to go buy a gallon of milk.

It was inevitable that technology was going to impact the world of publishing, and I'm certainly enjoying some of that impact: I wouldn't think of embarking on a road trip without an audio book, and I most assuredly would not want to go back to creating my manuscripts on a typewriter. But it makes me sad to think that some toddler in 2050 may never get to Pat the Bunny or ask Where's Spot? and find him. It makes me even sadder to think that a generation raised on shape-shifters and warlocks might dismiss Huck Finn or Anne Shirley as hopelessly dull in comparison.

I'm trying to be open-minded, but here's the bottom line: I'll take a REAL Trixie Belden over a virtual Top 10 any day of the week!

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