Friday, May 1, 2015

THESE are the good old days - books

There seems to be a lot of nostalgia for the 50's and 60's, even the 70's.  Television shows, music all portray those days as if they were some golden age of civilization.  Like life was so much better back then, 

Well, I've been there.  Done that.

THESE are the good old days.

Books are a good example.  I love books.  I read a lot.  I can't eat unless I have something to read.  I have a book case full of books I haven't yet read.

And a Kindle full of books that I haven't yet read.  I am an equal opportunity reader.

In the "good old days", the books you had to choose from were constrained by what the local library and the bookstore decided to carry.  For the bookstore that generally meant the best sellers, whether classics or new releases.

Want a book you've heard about on TV or the radio?  You had to order it.  Or go to a bigger bookstore. Or cultivate book-loving friends that would share with you.

Want to know whether people liked the book or would recommend it?  Good luck.  There might be a review of a best seller in the newspaper.  If you liked the same things the reviewer liked, this could be helpful.

Sometimes a librarian could or would recommend a new author.  Or your friends, a neighbor, a bookstore employee, a teacher.  Naturally, their recommendations are colored by their own preferences.

The library was the hub for recreational reading and homework.  Need to write a paper on Mesopotamia?

  • Head to the library.  
  • Peruse the card catalog.
  • Hope the books you need aren't checked out or in use.  
  • Flip through each book chapter by chapter, page by page, and hope that you can actually find the section you need in the book.  
  • Pray that there is a functional index.

Using an encyclopedia?  Don't forget to check the supplemental volumes in case there is additional information.

Then there was book publishing.  If you had a great idea for a book, you needed a publisher.  Which generally required having an agent.  Who was too busy with established clients to bother with your idea.

And the publisher would decide how many copies to print, how to market it, when to remainder it and when to take it off the market.

Did you want to self-publish?  That required a printing of a specific number of books and about $5000 just to get started.

Now you can find all kinds of books, in physical or virtual, on all sorts of topics, in all sorts of genres, many of them self-published.  And there is so much information (good and bad) on the internet that researching Mesopotamia is easy.

I still read a lot of physical books.  The cozy mysteries that I am so fond of are actually cheaper in print than via Kindle.

For book lovers, THESE are the good old days!

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