Tuesday Tantrum: Bye, Bye Borders

Since my days as a science major, I've been fascinated by evolution. Once considered a slow, gradual process, it is now recognized that evolution occurs in big jumps called punctuated equilibrium. Things plug along with the status quo until some tipping point is reached and then -- bam! -- a new set of species takes its place as the dominant ones.

One of the benefits to studying natural systems is the insight it gives to social and economic structures. And this year, I'm observing a series of events that suggest we're at the tipping point in publishing. The latest: the liquidation of book giant Borders. Lots have blogged and analyzed what this portends. One of the best posts can be found at the Gathered Stories blog.

While defenders of the old order will come out in droves to justify Borders' demise as a sign of anything but the overall decline of traditional print publishing, the writing's on the wall. Actually, the writing's on the tablet, Nook, Kindle, and whatever other electronic device that will support e-readers. Want proof? I'll spare you stats, and give you my satori last week instead:

I'm listening to a book on my commute, half way through, and it's overdue at the library. But I'm into the story now, so I weigh the cost of the overdue fines over the cost of buying the bestseller new at Barnes & Noble. In my hand I hold the beautiful volume. I check out its price. I put it back and leave with a  mag instead. Mind you, I make good money in my day job, enough to bitch about taxes even though I'm a tax-loving liberal. And I read dozens of books, fiction and non, each year. I write books. But my biggest book expense is overdue book fines. Why? My shelves are crowded with books I read once and won't again. See, the value of the book is in the story it contains. So guess what's on my birthday wish list?

Kindle or Nook.

Any recommendations?

Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images


  1. I'm seriously an expert in ereaders!

    Here's what you have to consider:
    -Do you want to read outdoors? If yes, then you want an original Nook or any version of the Kindle. (The Nook Color is nice, but it has a backlit screen that's impossible to read in sunlight. The original Nook and the Kindle have eInk displays which are *much* easier on the eyes ... but require a light to read in the dark.)
    -Do you want to buy books at the beach, on your commute, etc.? If so, you want a 3G/4G version of either the Nook or Kindle (which is more expensive but worth it.) If you'd rahter just be able to download a book where ever there's a wi-fi connection (i.e. not at the beach, at the gym, on the commuter rail, etc.), go with the Wi-Fi cheaper version.
    -Do you want to share books with your friends? If so, then you want a Nook -- but make sure your friends have one too, otherwise you can't share anything. If it doesn't matter to you, gte a Kindle.

    *Important: Please PLEASE don't get a Sony or any other brand than the Nook or Kindle. They aren't as good. I promise promise.*

    Personally, I'm a BIG reader and I have a Kindle – it's my favorite possession. Good luck!

  2. Wow, thanks for all this great advice. I'm angling for the Kindle :-)

  3. you're very welcome! these ereaders can be confusing, and i've found that people at the stores just can't give good shopping advice. i know you're going to love the kindle -- it's changed so much about how i read, but at the same time hasn't really changed a thing :)