4/26/2008

Dinosaurs,the Anti-Christ, and other Urban Myths





It is no secret that I am an aficionado of books, book stores, reading, literature, author talks, English teachers, librarians, literacy, and all related things.




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Many friends have asked me what I think about Amazon.com's Kindle, it's newest gizmo designed to replace books ,"coming soon to a future near you". The Kindle ( and other devices, of similar type, made by a variety of companies) is a sort of electronic book, a small hand-held screen computer-type doodad about the size of an ACTUAL BOOK, which downloads like a wireless computer or cell phone, the text of books that you pay for from the host website. The Luddite in me shudders at the thought, thinks of it as one of the " seven signs" that we are living near The End of Days - so much of the joy of reading , for me, is the feel , smell, appearance and experience of an actual book made of paper, sometimes with illustrations, whose pages you turn by hand. I fear it is the Antichrist. The frugal zealot in me wonders at how much all this is going to cost : the Kindle is currently selling on amazon.com for $399.00. How much will downloads be ? Somewhere from $1.99 ( self help books that are 5 years out of vogue) to $15.99 ( hot best sellers?) , I guess. Then there are the batteries required to run the thing, numerous adapters for when the batteries don't work or you travel out of the country, probably a subscription to some wireless service for the transmission of the download......I read all the material I could find on this thing. At first, I was worried that you would have to pay for each download, (i.e. each time you want to read something ) but the literature on this product says you can download numerous things, and store them all. Ok, so add in the cost of some sort of monthly subscription plan, like Netflix ( would you like one or two downloads per month ? ) plus some sort of storage device to "save" all those books. I know, from having sons ( and their constant need to purchase complete new video game systems , with consoles, games, and accouterments, every two years, b/c XBOX or playstation has a " new and improved " model out on the market) , that this gizmo will probably not last forever, but become obsolete and need to be replaced every few years. S don't think of these as " fixed" costs, by any means.




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The little wheels in the hamster cage of my mind started turning , and I thought, well, it might be useful, for some situations : I could download all the books I want, when I travel, and instead of having to fill half my suitcase with books, I could just take this one thing. You can adjust the font size as you read it, so it would be handy for my aging baby-boomer failing eyesight. I've been looking for a books-on-tape type thing for my father, who is in a nursing home, and can't see at all.......if this gizmo could read it aloud to him or me, that would make it even better.




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But the capitalist in me really likes owning things, esp books ......I have book cases in every room of my house, lots and lots of them, even in the kitchen and bathrooms. I have more books in my house than most small town libraries, and I like it that way. I stand to inherit even more when all my relatives finally kick the bucket. In Texas, that is often an anomaly, people are far more likely to collect those little figurines with the big sad eyes, than books. I've been collecting them all my life. Mining the depths of my bookcases ( which are double and triple stacked, by subject ) is like an archaeological excavation through my life : you come upon strands of things I read at various points in my life, and sometimes, want to read again. Friends Who Just Don't Get It come over and say things like, "you know, you could sell all these at that half priced bookstore on the square". What they don't know is that I am a frequent flier at that shop, living in a two college town, that place is a gold mine. They hand select what they will buy and nothing in there is junk. Neighborhood estate sales are another treasure trove. When all the old professors in this town die, their books are often unappreciated by their heirs. Wonderful things, first editions and out of print gems, get sucked up by people like me, who love books. The really cheap part of me likes to pay for a book once, own it forever, and read it again and again, loan it out, get it back, perpetuate the " I only paid for it once". The practical part of me knows from experience that you can cram a book into your backpack, hitch-hike through the Negev dessert, read that book in the middle of nowhere, without a dime or shekel in your pocket, and continue that way for months or years. No matter how broke you may be at this moment - the day before payday, or sitting out from the job market to contemplate one's navel, the books you own are there for you, waiting till you are ready to open them up and read them,again and again. No batteries, no Internet, required.








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Different , but related topic :




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Bookstores.




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Bookstores have almost gone the way of the dinosaurs. Yes , I confess I am an amazon.com addict, b/c I can find such a great breadth and depth there, and it's cheap. But who has the expertise to recommend something to me ? My local independent book-seller, that's who. So I routinely buy things from the little indies I come across, just to throw them a bone now and then. I know their days are numbered, we are living in the sunset of the Raj when it comes to that great movement called literacy that began in the 1450's when Gutenberg got the idea of using movable type to print a book. So I found this nifty website called BookSense.com, where you can type in your state or someplace you are visiting, and find all the independent books sellers still hanging on by their fingernails. Lucky folks who live in New York have many options......those of us living in north Texas, much fewer. That about sums it up.




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Here are the listings for all of Texas . Know of some that have been left out ? Send me an email, and let me know. My faves are hi-lited in red.








Banquet of Books

603 FM 2093, Fredericksburg, TX 78624(830)997-5073http://www.banquet-of-books.com/Specialty: Children

Banquet of Books offers a feast for young readers, from very young children to older teens. We provide expert personal service to help customers find just the right selection. We support the efforts of parents and teachers to help children grow into eager, competent and discerning readers and people of character.

Barron's Books, Inc.
405 West Loop 281, Longview, TX 75605(903)663-2060http://www.giftsbybarrons.com/

Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079(281)497-8675http://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

A neighborhood bookshop for West Houston and beyond. Our family invites your family to stop in and talk about great books with other readers. Stay for our programs or to play a lively round of our latest favorite game. Located in the Energy Corridor, we are the American gateway for our international customers. Welcome!

Body Mind & Soul Books

4344 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77027(713)993-0550http://www.bmshouston.com/Specialty: Mind/Body/Spirit

Welcome to Body Mind & Soul, a music, gift & bookstore that makes a positive difference. We are devoted to helping you create inner peace, serenity and ultimately - a better you. Our goal is to heal the body, illuminate the mind and lift the spirit.

Book People

603 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78703(512)472-5050http://www.bookpeople.com/

General interest bookstore with large gift selection. An Austin locally owned business since 1970. We support local business.

BookWoman

5501 North Lamar Blvd #A105, Austin, TX 78751(512)472-2785http://www.ebookwoman.com/Specialty: Feminist

Texas' only women's bookstore- celebrating our 30th year. Open 7 days a week.

Brazos Bookstore, Inc.
2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005-1451(713)523-0701http://www.brazosbookstore.com/

Brazos is Texas' preeminent bookstore for literature, art, and architecture. Our reading series presents poets and writers from the Americas, UK and Asia; signed books are available prepaid. Readings schedule on request.

Front Street Books

121 East Holland Avenue, Alpine, TX 79830-4731(432)837-3360http://www.fsbooks.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Located in scenic Big Bend Country,Texas; a growing inventory of new, used & antiquarian books. Emphasis on regional, natural, and Texas history, children’s, literature & areas of interest to university community, retirees & tourists.

Front Street Books #2

105 Highway 90 West, Marathon, TX 79842(915)386-4249http://www.fsbooks.com/

Located in scenic Big Bend Country,Texas; new & used books. Emphasis on regional, natural, and Texana</<>FONT> history and titles of interest to tourists.

Katy Budget Books

2450 Fry Road, Houston, TX 77084(281)578-7770http://www.katybooks.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Huge inventory of new and used books. We stock books on every subject you can imagine and more. Our children's, romance, and mystery sections are beyond compare. Science-Fiction and non-fiction inventory is amazing. Incredibly low prices.

Midsummer Books

2309 Mechanic, Galveston, TX 77550(409)765-5930

Murder By The Book
2342 Bissonnet</<>FONT> Street, Houston, TX 77005-1512(713)524-8597http://www.murderbooks.com/Specialty: Mystery

Mystery/suspense, thriller & detective fiction. New/used, hardback/paperback, out-of-print/first editions. Author signings. Store magazine available by subscription. James Lee Burke. Limited editions. Puzzles, calendars, party games, bookbags</<>FONT>.

Read All About It
305 South Main, Suite 400, Boerne</<>FONT>, TX 78006(830)249-7323Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

New and Used books, Collectible First Editions, Hats, Puppets, Special Orders, Giftcards</<>FONT>, Out of Print Searches, Direct-to-Home Service. Since 1995.

The Bookworm

3245 Main Street, Suite 225, Frisco, TX 75034(972)712-1455http://www.friscobookworm.com/

The Bookworm is a family owned and operated independent bookstore for all ages and interests. We provide an intimate, intelligent, and interesting bookstore environment. The fireplace with seating and coffee cart encourages you to relax, spend time a

The Red Balloon

5009 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209(210)826-5087http://thetwig.booksense.com/Specialty: ChildrenAccepts</<>FONT> Book Sense Gift Cards

The Twig Book Shop and Red Balloon Children's books are independent, full-service stores which have served San Antonio and South Texas since the early 1970's. We offer reader advice, special orders, out-of-print searches, gift wrap & shipping.

The Storybook Garden

260 South Texas Boulevard, Weslaco</<>FONT>, TX 78596(956)968-7323http://www.thestorybookgarden.com/Specialty: Children

This independently owned children's bookshop, located in Weslaco</<>FONT>, TX, offers the finest in children's literature, gifts & toys. Join us for our weekly story & craft hour each Saturday at 11am & 2pm. Call 956-968-READ for more information.

The Twig Book Shop

5005 Broadway Street, San Antonio, TX 78209-5707(210)826-6411http://thetwig.booksense.com/Accepts Book Sense Gift Cards

Full service family bookstore with extensive selection of children's books and literature of Texas and the Southwest. Special orders, out of print searches and mailing service available.

Viva Bookstore at Mini Mansions
8407 Broadway Street, San Antonio, TX 78209-1129(210)826-1143http://www.vivabooks.com/Specialty: Religious

Viva! Bookstore supplies books on religion, theology, philosophy and spirituality. VIVA! also features an extensive children's section & one of only 3 dept. in the U.S. dedicated to Celtic Spirituality.




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