« The Golden Age of Books: third in a series | Main | Charming Boovie preserves the old world of hard-to-find books »

April 02, 2008



Steve, I do believe we have the best of both worlds right now. I love going to bookstores (new and used) and browsing the aisles. I also like being able to find special titles on line. Still, I wonder about those who loved the pursuit; the thrill of the chase and the great pleasure at tracking down a used book, before the internet. Some might argue the trade-off was disappointing. Yet in many ways this ability to almost instantly find information on a variety of topics, as well as a variety of books, has enriched us - provided we don't get mired down in all of the information we receive from the search.

Bobbie Jeanne Kennedy

The thing I love most about old books and the internet is they are now available online "in toto". I am no longer able to make the trip to the bookstore easily and even less able to literally pick up the weight of a loooooong story. But, God bless them, there are some people who love specific books so much that they have laboriously typed the entire book onto a website so that the information never gets lost, forgotten, nor burnt like a book could have. The most obvious example being the zillion and a half different versions of the Bible.

Jerry Eyer

Yes...I agree with your comments. I used to spend hours in dirty, smelly, unorganized used book stores. Today I simply search online when I want to find that old book....or the new one. When you know what you want it is easy. But if you want to brouse.....I still go to the dirty, smelly, unorganized used book store.

Judy Talkington

Is Texas the only place that has the "Half Price Books" phenomenon? Half Price Books is a chain of used book stores that started in Austin and is now state-wide. They will buy your unwanted books, magazines, music and videos and computer software. Like the high-end new bookstores, there is a coffee bar and plenty of comfortable places to sit and read. I always spend more than I make selling my items, however. The selection is astounding. It is one of my grandchildren's favorite destinations. Of course, I am also a dedicated Alibris and ABE customer as well.


I take great pride in the ownership of books and although I am very comfortable with my computing, it could never replace the relationship I have with books. I like the electronic medium for those books I cannot find but I will always want to be able to see a book on my bookshelf...

I visit all bookstores, old and new... I only wish the independent book sellers were in a stronger position. I do not like anything as important as a bookstore to be limited to Barnes and Noble or Borders....

Mary-Ellen Jones

There is absolutely nothing to compare with a used book store - the look, the smell, the feel of old books, the people you can meet and talk with. It is now quicker to find a book online and this might be very important at times. Unfortunately, the element that is eliminated by the speed of online searches is the fascination of the search.

Robyn in Canada

Nothing can compare to the sight, the touch, the smell, or the emotion a book can elicit.

Charlotte Brooks

Dear Steve,

I have to agree with Marty. There's nothing like browsing in a used book store. I always found something I never knew existed. The one here closed its doors several years ago and I still miss it.

There was a great one I discovered by chance in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois--a large old house with every room literally filled floor to ceiling with books. The day I discovered it, I was killing time waiting for my daughter to finish her cello practice for the Illinois Youth Symphony. I lost track of time & was extremely late picking her up, much to the dismay of her teacher.

The problem I find with on-line book sales is that you can't "browse." It's fine if you already know what you want but what about all those, as yet unknown to me, gems.
Plus, I still like to see it, feel it and peek inside.

I love your Well-Read Life postings. Thank you for letting all of us have our say also.

Charlotte Brooks
Bedminster, NJ

Ruth Fisk

I definitely fall into the hands-on book browsing group- have read daily since first grade, and honed my skills decades later in City Lights bookstore in San Francisco (plus many others that existed in the 90s) Our idea of Sunday brunch always involves our nearby Barnes & Noble. Where else (than in books) can you get so much enjoyment at any time of the day and night, regardless of where you are?


I'm not so sure. Yes, it's easy to find out of print books, but if there aren't many copies left, the price can be prohibitive.

Search for The Principles of Knitting. It was published in 1989 and never reissued despite endless promises from the publisher (the most recent stating a publication date of fall 2009). It is possible to get a copy--for $200 and up. That's a lot for one book.

Once e-books become the norm, books will never go out of print. We're not far from a time when we can pick up anything we want to read in seconds, any time, any where, no matter how long ago the book was published. I've already had the experience of needing a reference on Norse Mythology, immediately, at a time I couldn't get to a library or bookstore, and having it minutes later. That's golden.


While I too enjoy the instant gratification of finding old books and just about anything else on line, I do miss that incredible feeling of elation I got when I happened across a book I had been searching for. Sadly I no longer spend hours digging through used book stores.


As I enter my "silver years", I've notice that this former "seldom reader" has developed a thirst for reading. I seem to be able to identify more books that I want to read, should have read or just plained missed. I do remember enjoying at times browsing through "used book stores" in New York, Istanbule and lately with my son during visits to Melbourne Australia.

The internet has made it easier for me to quickly acquire some books and introduce me to other books that I might be interested in reading (acquiring). I still have some of my college text books that I still refer to for work and "old time memories".

Thanks Steve for your "blogs"

Wayne Wilson

Wow - your description of locating books prior to the internet brought back a lot of memories ! I do like being able to find an out of print book quickly, and have even located some of my childhood favorites. Like almost everyone else, I still love the atmosphere of an old book dealer or used book store. Sadly, they seem to be disappearing with the advent of the internet.


Yes, Books will never go , even if internet offers them for free, many stores like this one http://bluerectangle.com work on both versions online and off line through their stores, people cam buy and sell their used books online on internet where they offer free shipping, or you can go to any of their stores and sell you book


You know how sights, sounds and especially smells can bring old memories to mind? Well, one of the first things I like to do when getting a book to read, whether it be old, new, or borrowed, is to open it up in the middle and stick my nose in and take a big whiff. I'm sure this may sound strange but it takes me back to elementary school when, in English class, every student got a weekly publication called the "Weekly Reader". It was just about 8 to 10 pages long with different short stories and what not, but it also had this really strong "paper" smell to it. I even joined my first Book Club through that publication. Yes, I think books are here to stay even with computers and the internet. Computers may be much faster today than they used to be, but I can pick up a book and be reading it quicker than I can turn on(boot up) my laptop, find a book file, double-click to open it,(if of course the battery is charged).
Thanks Steve for these articles on "The Golden Age of Books".
Your Friend, Rick

The comments to this entry are closed.