In Praise of Technology

bookstoreMy best memories are of being lost in a bookstore, sitting in a corner, seven books around me, surrounded by the inimitable aroma of paper, printing ink, and carton boxes. Heaven! Increasingly, that experience is out-of-reach. It is getting harder to sandwich a few hours of book-worship in the busy days of our lives, and when one does make one’s way to a bookstore, at least in North America, the smell of coffee and cookies drowns out the smell of paper and ink.

Grudgingly, therefore, I have come to accept my virtual bookstores on the iPad, on a website or on my eReader. The excitement of finding something new remains, even if the experience has fundamentally changed. I still enjoy browsing, reading a few chapters of a book before buying, and sometimes randomly picking up a book whose cover speaks to me.

I must admit, however, that I have come to really like the recommendation feature in an electronic bookstore. If you like this book, the logic goes, you might also like…. Implemented well, this feature can help readers reduce search-pain, and skip over the drudgery of reading all the blurbs behind each book cover. Over time, I have found myself using these features extensively. So, grudgingly, I have become an ebook store fan.

What about you? Given a choice, which kind do you prefer?