Online Book Shopping

Image representing Barnes & Noble as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

At the end of June, almost a year ago, I received a teacher appreciation gift card to Barnes and Noble. It was a lovely thought; what teacher would not enjoy some good summer reading? The only problem is that I am a library girl. I visit my public library once or twice a week and always have piles of fiction, non-fiction, travel guides, cookbooks and magazines on my nightstand.

I do enjoy my Kindle. Downloading digital books makes packing reading material for vacations light and easy. I try to borrow my e-reads as much as possible; because if I do buy a book, it has to be through Amazon. I know they won’t take my gift card.

Third generation Amazon Kindle

So now I have held onto this gift for close to year and I am concerned it will expire shortly. I have read many book reviews in my quest to find something which I feel is worthy of purchasing.  Those qualifications would include: an author whom I enjoy and possibly have another book by, a book that had fabulous reviews, one that covers a topic of interest to me, something I could pass on to friends or family when I am done.

I came up with a list and decided to finally buy my books. Part of me still felt guilty about buying from an online chain, rather than supporting the local, privately owned shop. I suppose the compromise could have been to drive to the big store at the mall, but I rarely head out in that direction.

The Book Shop With Wigtown being named The Boo...

I decided to approach the owner of the independent store and see if we could work out a deal. I figured if I had her order the books for me and I purchased enough extra material over the gift card value that she would be happy for the business and I could finally unload the card.

I was disappointed that the owner could not figure out a way to make such a plan work- even if she offered to buy it from me at a discount and I bought books she already had in stock. You would think that in an attempt to attract customers she might have been willing to find a creative strategy. Instead she suggested I either gift the card to someone else or buy online. Imagine that- an independent store, struggling for business, yet encouraging me to shop online!

I still could not bring myself to do that; so in order to ease my disappointment,  I went to the library. I found one of the books from my wish list on their well-stocked shelves. I also located the next book I will be reading for my book club. I spontaneously grabbed one of the books which they had cleverly displayed near the front desk. While I felt badly that I couldn’t do business at the local shop, at least my public library was there for me.

Then I went home and placed my order online. The package arrived today. Now I have plenty of summer reading lined up for the next few months. I am only a year behind.


More on Books and Technology: A Conflict of Interest?

Last month I wrote about the shift in entertainment interests of children, away from books* to video games or apps. I also touched on the immediate gratification of streaming movies**, rather than waiting for them to be aired on tv. So here is a follow up based on those two posts.

At one time, my son was a big Harry Potter fan. He would stay awake past his bedtime, reading the latest book under the covers, eager to discover what would become of Harry or Dumbledore. Once that series came to an end, he tried reading other books in a similar genre. These interested him for a while, but within a year he no longer wanted to read. I am not sure what was the cause – the pressure to read at school, the distractions of video games, or the inability to choose a captivating book; but no matter what my efforts were to encourage him, he would only read when it was mandatory.

As all parents know, we are supposed to limit our children’s screen time (tv, computer, video games) but with so many options, it is a challenge and unless we are willing to battle over the principle, we often lose. The latest electronic device is the Ipad2, which my son got for his birthday. He uses it alot- for doing research, as well as playing games, talking with friends and listening to music. All of these uses allow him to get what he wants when he wants it. I tried to slow him down and stretch his patience by asking him to wait before buying things, but the result is that he has stopped asking my permission to do so.

The other day he approached me asking for help to locate a book at the library. I was so eager to see him read that I immediately got on the computer to look it up. The book he wanted was an autobiography, which I thought was unusual. It was by Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, the same one about whom Bob Dylan had written his ballad, and of which my son knew all the lyrics. We discovered the library copies were checked out and decided to look for it at a book store online. If it was available, I could pick it up for him tomorrow, only a short wait. But then he told me his report was due next week and he really needed it sooner. So much for trying to hold him off.

I have a Kindle so I offered to download it onto my device for him. I looked it up on the Kindle site and then figured out we could download it onto his Ipad using a Kindle app. Within 2 minutes, the book had been purchased, transferred to his ipad and he was laying on the couch reading it. The entire process took less than 20 minutes since he had made his initial request.

It certainly seems like a conflict of interest to me- trying to teach patience but buying something over the ethernet, wanting to limit time spent on electronics yet encouraging him to read on one. I want to tear my hair out! The use of this at bedtime can be even more clandestine than the good old flashlight trick. Where do we draw the line?

This new technology certainly presents a hoard of parenting challenges, but on the bright side, he is reading this autobiography and excitedly reporting what he has learned after every section. That is a side of him I haven’t seen in several years. I did ask him whether he liked the book because of the format, and he immediately countered that it was the actual story that was interesting. Maybe I shouldn’t give up on paperbacks yet…

*My Father’s Books in the Age of Tech   posted 9/23/11

**Cancelling Netflix: A Lesson for my Kids  posted 9/20/11