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It's Buy the Book




The 68th annual Philadelphia Writer’s’ Conference begins tomorrow, so I’ve been thinking about writers and books. As long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with books. Before I could comprehend a written sentence, my dad would read stories to me. He was very good at acting out the characters and doing voices.  He created my appreciation for the art of good storytelling.


When I began reading, a whole world was there to explore. I couldn’t wait to get my first library card. It was a key to a greater imagination by giving me access to all types of literature. I’d come home with as many books as I was allowed to check out. I started out with Dr. Seuss, but soon graduated to everything from Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, Huckleberry Finn, and David Copperfield. I loved Charles Dickens and was ready to take on Victorian London.


Every year I couldn’t wait for the school book fair. I’d make a list of all the novels I wanted, and hoped my mom would purchase them on Parents’ Night. Harriet the Spy was one of my favorites. I wanted to start my own library because the local librarian didn’t appreciate my more mature level of reading. I read so much, my reading level was advanced for my age. I left the Hardy Boys at their Haunted Fort and headed to Tara.

There was a Yankee skirmish when I tried to check out Gone with the Wind. As I peered over the checkout desk, Lady Librarian adjusted her spectacles and asked, “Are you sure you want to read this book?” I nodded my head in the affirmative and she looked confused. 
 
“Do you think you’re old enough to read this?” she inquired. “There are no pictures in this book.”

What a revelation! I was expecting Scarlett O’Hara to want Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat to storm Atlanta. Don’t tell me there’s no three-page foldout of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes giving birth. How would I ever get through all those pages of words? “Fiddle-dee-dee.”

I explained to this septuagenarian with an OVER-DUE book stamp, that I saw the movie and wanted to enjoy the book. She begrudgingly checked me out. It was my love of reading and my appetite for books that kept me ahead of the curve. I wasn’t ready for Valley of the Dolls or Portnoy’s Complaint, but I was on my way.


Books have always been my prized possessions. There’s always the moment of anticipation when you open the book and begin on a journey the author has created. I like to breath in the the book – smell the ink, and the paper. I’ve cracked more spines than a chiropractor and fondled more pages than a US Senator.

I love having book shelves and creating my own library. It displays my love of literature and the adventures I’ve taken. For book lovers, visiting a book store isn’t just shopping – it’s an experience. Every time I enter Barnes & Noble, I feel like I’m at my second home. There’s a calming atmosphere. It’s like the books are calling to me, or is it just my Xanax? “Come explore, there’s blood sweat and tears within our covers.”

I think of the authors who have toiled over their writing to create a novel. All the hours of solitude to inspire, educate and entertain the reader. It’s a literary art museum. All the books are works of art waiting to be picked up and admired. Enjoy the cover design and appreciate the form. You can’t have that experience on a Kindle or a Nook.

I just read several articles that stated ‘real’ books are making a comeback. E-book sales are declining and more readers are returning to print books. That makes me very happy because watching the demise of bookstores is frightening. I have a Kindle and it’s great for travel, but I never want it to replace a real book. It’s much easier to relax with a real book than coming home to stare at another computer screen after a day in a cubicle.


A study found that print books are better at conveying information. Readers using a Kindle were less likely to recall events in a mystery novel than people who read the same book in print. You can’t just easily page back to refer to some information with a tablet, or easily write notes in the margins.

Also, print books can be yours for life. Who knows how long your e-books are going to remain secure in the cloud. You can share books and donate them to your local library. Let them live on in someone else’s hand. It’s part of a social culture. It is much more interesting to see people on trains or planes reading a book rather than staring at a six-inch screen. 
 
As a writer working on a manuscript, I know I anticipate the thrill of walking into a book store and seeing my book on display. There is concrete evidence of your work and your craft. It’s a culmination of hours or writing, rewriting, editing, querying, contracts, commissions to a final result – the book. What artist doesn’t want to see the physical result of their work.


What a rush to see your book clutched in the hands of an avid reader. A book signing is an event. A great way to meet your readers. I have several books signed by the authors. I remember standing in line to meet Greg Louganis when he wrote his book Breaking the Surface. He graciously signed it, and I was thrilled to have an autographed copy. 

Stretching my imagination, this was my equivalent of having a signed Warhol – except with Speedos and lots of water. Having a book is a much more personal experience. You can’t sign a Kindle. Well, I guess you can, but it wouldn’t really make much sense.

Let’s hope the trend continues and electronic books remain on the periphery of literature. They’ll never replace the pleasure of a print book. A cup of tea, a cozy nook and a good book is one of life’s simple pleasures. I love taking a book wherever I go.  I don’t want to plug it into the wall and wait for a recharge. Keep the art of reading alive, keep writers on the page, and buy a book today.




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