Sunday, June 3, 2012

A bit of a Rant and a whole lot of opinion

I wasn't sure I was going to take on this age of electronics BUT after the past few days I have decided not only that I would but also that I should.  I am not here to discuss the kindle pitfalls nor what it could mean to the future of a REAL book.  I am here to talk about, share and possibly become the Amy Vanderbilt for the proper manners when one owns an e-reader.

I can't help but think of my grandmother and the changes she witnessed during her lifetime.  She rode in horse drawn buggies, helped haying crews with equipment that was pulled by horses.  She drove cars, travelled by airplane and witnessed a man land on the moon. She listened to a radio before there was television.  She owned  TV in black and white and then one in color.  I now compare those advancements to the rapidly changing electronic world we live in today.  A world where we are hooked up, online and quickly becoming instant gratification addicts.

     I find it amusing that none of my customers purchased their own version of an e-reader whether it be an Ipad, Nook or the new kindle fire.  When they are confessing that they now have entered the world of electronic books they tell me that they never thought they would own one but then they got one as a gift. ......

I love books, I love reading, I love talking about books, I love recommending books and I love talking about books with people that love books, love reading and love talking about books.  This is my job, it is my career and it is my passion.

(WARNING:  This is where the rant begins)  Because I enjoy what I do I was slow to realize that "some customers" (but certainly not all) are now using me the same way information seekers use google.  They come into The Bookstore asking for my professional opinion on what is hot in the world of books.  I gladly comply reaping upon them my vast knowledge.  Giving them my undivided attention and letting them share in all that I know.  I pull the books from the shelves, I take the time to find out what books they enjoy or if they are looking for something particular to read.  I offer to order a title if we don't have it in stock.  It is no secret that I am a talker and when I am talking about books I can (and often do) go on and on sometimes forgetting that I am talking to someone but rather I become one with the book. 

These people will jot down the titles or ask if I have a website listing my favorite books.  I spend a lot of time with these customers enjoying the literary exchange before it slowly dawns on me that they are not going to buy any of these books from me.  They are going to purchase them and they are going to read them but they will not be paying me for the books nor do I get a consultants fee.  They are going to take the information that I gave them and happily travel the world wide web and purchase those books elsewhere.

I didn't want to believe that people who have been customers in my store would use me in this way.  And to be fair I doubt they think they are doing anything wrong.  I am starting to feel like they are shoplifting my brain.  I can not have them arrested but they are stealing from me (OK I also lean a bit to the dramatic)  Some people are much more subtle than others possibly purchasing a postcard for a quarter or a birthday card telling me they will be back.  I have actually witnessed people sitting in their cars in front of my store downloading something onto a plastic contraption.  I can only assume that it is one or all of the books I had just spent 45 minutes discussing with them.  And yes they have also downloaded the book while still in my store.

It was last week that I had a full realization that this happens (a lot) a woman came into the store and told me she wanted to thank me for being so helpful last summer when she visited Dillon for 8 weeks.  I vaguely remembered her and smiled and welcomed her back.  Then she asked me what books I had read over the winter.  I excitedly shared with her.  She then told me that she had been able to download all of the books I recommended last year and told all of her friends back home about the wonderful woman in Dillon.  I was stunned when she told me (in a round about way) that she had not purchased a single title from me.  She told me that no one had ever picked out titles for her that she enjoyed more.  In fact she told me she wasn't used to going to a bookstore where the clerk was so knowledgeable.  I didn't know whether to laugh, to cry or punch her........................I did none of those things but believe me the "Other Debbie" had serious thoughts of ways to torture this woman.

I have had people ask for my help and then stand in my store to see if they can download the book.  I have folks coming in and using the price check app.  I have had people refuse to allow their traveling companion to purchase them a book because they will get it from amazon or download it.  Often times the the companion is embarrassed.

Where does this lead?  What does it mean?  As for me I will continue to do what I do best, read books, sell books and share my passion with others.  I will hope that folks like me still walk the earth that want to hold a book, touch the pages, smell the print, browse the shelves of a bookstore and buy the book and take it home.