Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dorchester Redux

I've been thinking about Dorchester's switch from paperback to e-book format for the last couple of days, and one thing it's brought home to me is how much I enjoy the tactile experience of buying books. I like taking them off the rack and reading the blurbs on the back. I like opening them and reading the blurbs and editorial material on the first few pages. I like looking at the print to see how big or small it is. I like looking at the covers. I guess I like the whole browsing experience, which more often than not leads me to buy more books than I intended to. All of that is lost when it comes to e-books, and it's a heck of a loss in my case.

The reason I'm thinking about this is probably Dorchester's western line, which was always well-represented in the only place to buy new books in Alvin, Texas: Wal-Mart. I like spending time in front of the rack, looking over the new titles, looking for books, by people I know. Browsing e-books just isn't the same.

I know that real books will be around for many more years, but not Dorchester. I'm gonna miss 'em.

Update: Blogger Richard Robinson has some further thoughts.


Richard R. said...

I couldn't agree more, Bill. For me, it's everything your said, and more. After it's purchased, and home.

That tactile experience continues with the reading of the book, opening and closing it, inserting a bookmark when I stop reading, glancing at the amount of pages left to the end of the chapter or the book, turning the paper page and running my finger lightly down the center of it, referring to the cover or front matter (When was this first published again? What does the map show? Who is the illustrator? Where in the series does this fall?). The weight of the book in my hands, being able to hold a paperback in one hand while taking a sip of my drink, or a bite of a cookie or whatever, looking at the spines of the books as they rest on the shelf. All these things are important to me. No, not as important as what's on the page, but important enough to keep me from wanting e-books and an e-reader.

Faugh! Let the kids have their electric-battery-powered-miniaturized-app-mad world, but leave we grown-ups our ink-and-paper books!

The accountants that seem to rule the world will drive us all to the brink of despair.

David Cranmer said...

Well put, Bill.

Mel Odom said...

I feel the same way about the absence of spinner racks for comics. I can remember dragging a finger along the top of the clumps to scan for missing or new titles. Can't do that any more, and they wouldn't be in mint condition when you bought them.

And don't get me started about the 12-cent prices.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Bill, I couldn't agree more. We're plugged in enough as it is, at least with physical books we can be unplugged for a few minutes. And no amount of online browsing can simulate the experience of browsing in a real bookstore. I' going to miss it when bookstores are gone (online predictions have the tipping point as Christmas 2011 when enough book readers have switched to ebook readers to make bookstores unprofitable).

Richard R. said...

In a shameless bid for visitors (not really, it just looks that way) I have posted my many further thoughts on this whole thing, along with links back to this post and the Dorchester statement, on my blog:

Todd Mason said...


George said...

This also brings up the problem of: How do you market an ebook?

Peter Farris said...

An excellent (and sad) commentary, Mr. Crider. I've linked your post within my own lonely rant on the subject here: http://peterfarris.blogspot.com/

Also, thanks for the kind words and attention you've given my father's (John Farris) early work on your blog. I showed him your site the other day and he's glad to see a few people still remember his Steve Brackeen days. That and there's folks out there that appreciate a good western, too.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the link, and I'll point folks to your blog, too. I love the Steve Brackeen stuff, but I'm also a huge admirer of Sharp Practice, not to mention the more recent books. Of course Harrison High is the one that meant the most to me.