The Future of Books

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

Books and more booksAs ebooks beocome more popular, I keep of having mix feeling about them.

On the one hand, I feel amazed by how wonderful these ebooks are, as you can simply file them in your ebook reader or your tablet and take them all around, as many as you want, without even having any problems with space. This is a wonderful thing while traveling.

On the other hand, I always miss the exciting feeling of having an actual book in my hands, feeling them and even smelling and listening to them as I turn the pages.

I also miss the outstanding feeling of wandering around the bookstores. I remember it was just a few years ago when going to the bookstore was one of the most exciting experiences as I was able to get almost any book I wanted at any given time.

However, this has been changing very quickly and nowadays it’s harder to find those huge bookstores in which everything was around. Now even though the bookstores keep a big selection, most of the time when a book’s not found on the shelves you’re often offered a book order by the same boostore.

So I keep on having these conflicted feeling in which I like ebooks and at the same time dislike them (for taking over printed books), and I keep on wishing that at some point bookstores will find their way to be the amazing places I’ve always love, and I keep on wishing that the Memorable Bookstores I’ve visited, will remain as great as they are.

At the same time, I’m grateful for the digital iniciatives like Project Gutenberg that aim to spread the love for books by sharing with the world thoushands of ebooks.

This kind of digital universal libraries remind me of an essay written by Isaac Asimov called The Ultimate Library, in which the author foresaw in 1980 what was going to be like the library of the future, in which, according to him, everything would be digitalized and people could reach any book just by connecting to a personal gadget such as a TV Set.

In his article, Asimov shows all the advantages of a Global Computarized Library that will contain all the knowledge of books around the world.

At the same time, the writer explained the benefits of the practical applications of the knowledge gotten from those digital books, and said that this wouldn’t be end the publishing business, it only would transform it, Asimov said.

So, while the books world keeps on changing, readers like me keep on trying to adjust fast to these new technologies, and in my case, I keep on treasuring more and more my big collection of printed books.

As for the new generation, the same Asimov said it well, it will be difficult for them how was the world without digital libraries.

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Memorable Bookstores

Friendly places for the readers.  Friendly places for the readers. [/caption]I’ve loved reading ever since I have memory. This love for books has taken me to step to uncountable bookstores throughout the years, and of course, as soon as I’m inside, it’s almost impossible for me to leave them.

So, of course I have to leave at some point, but not without some sort of pain, and in more than one occasion, with a great deal of nostalgia.

Throughout the year as well, there have been some special bookstores of which I’ve become truly fond of, such as Schoenhoef’s.

I remember I got there while wandering peacefully around those magnificent streets of Harvard, Massachusetts, and of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation to get in as soon as I saw that this place specialized in foreign books.

As soon as I got there, everything was like magic! I just didn’t know where to start, I wanted to see everything at once, so, while making up my mind, one of the guys at the bookstores came to me and asked me if I needed any assistance. Of course I almost jumped up to the ceiling, because my mind was only focused on those ‘delightable’ shelves full of books in so many different languages.

Still a bit surprised I managed to answer, “it’s just that there are so many books that I don’t know where to start”. By then my heart was pumping fast, all out of happiness.

After a very long, almost stretched, hour and a half, I had inspectioned every single one of the shelves and got some precious books, one of them La mia vitta e un disastro, the italian version of the book Angus, thongs and full frontal snogging, by Louise Rennison.

Another memorable experience at an international bookshop was the one I was lucky enough have, when walking around the Soho area in London. Unfortunately the name of the place has skipped my mind I this moment, I just remember me walking around the streets close to Oxford Street and the Charing Cross Station, where the bookshops area is, and somehow I managed to get right in front of this little store full of international books.

I still remember my amazement when I got to the Italian section and had the chance to hold in my hands, for the very first time, a book written by Umberto Eco, in it’s original language. While going through the pages of L’Isola del Giorno prima (The island of the day before), I felt as I were hearing music coming from the book.

Coming back to the States, I keep very fond memories of the several times I visited Daedalus Books at Belvedere Square, in Baltimore, Maryland.

I became really attached to this bookstore, that unfortunately closed down in 2011, leaving only for us book lovers, the warehouse and the online service , because of the unique combination that they managed to create among an incredible selection of well known, and not so well known but exceptional titles, very low prices and amazing service. Whatever question I had, I always got a kind answer that pointed me to the right book. Of course I got really sad when this retail store close, and I kept on thinking that no bookstore should ever close!

Also in Baltimore, there’s an adorable small place, that more than a bookstore is a book shelter. This place, called The Book Thing is the place where book lovers care for old books so much that they take there the ones that have already been read and in exchange anyone can take any book they want, just for free. The only rule here, is to love and to care for these books.

Jumping back to Boston, it comes to my memory an incredible bookstore located along the Backbay street. Again, the name escapes from my mind, but what I don’t forget is how big my surprise was when I saw what it seemed to be a very small bookshop, with a little green door, leaving the best part for the inside as it was so hard to believe how many aisles and shelved this store managed to have hidden from the outside world, as if they wanted to protect the readers from the constant activity that this street usually has.

A place I have never had the chance to actually be in, but that has a special place in my list of wonderful bookstores is the Moravian Book Shop, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Although I’ve only heard from this place, that was founded in the 18th century, I keep track of it thanks to its constant newsletters. What I like the most of this place, besides its historical value and charming presence, is the events that they prepared all the year round to support readers and authors.

Now I have to close this post of memorable bookstores with two big ones in which I’ve spent so many hours of my life, Barnes and Noble, and Borders (which painfully I have to say, it was also closed last year). To these two bookstores, I simply want to say: Thanks for all those wonderful times I’ve spent surrounded by books, music, and the right environment!

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