Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Used Bookstore

E took me to an used bookstore  knowing its one of my favorite places to visit. It is something we have in common. Our tastes are very different so we rarely recommend books to each other. I do like to check out her bookshelves when I am visiting. A lot of interesting material even if their appeal to me is limited. This time I found a 1928 edition on eastern religions that was a good read. 

E likes that Netflix understands who she is and would never recommend that she watch The Wolf of Wall Street. She is almost afraid to try something that does not come with their stamp of approval for her. What they don't recommend is a great sign of their understanding of her preferences and E is very impressed to say the least. Anything I had to say about letting a corporation control and manage her media intake fell on deaf years. She just loves the convenience too much. At the end of a busy day Netflix is the concierge service telling her what may be good movies for her to watch and she follows their guidance faithfully. She is the ideal customer for the service and its learning algorithms. 

On the other hand, E is holding out against online and mobile banking - she needs to go to a physical branch and that's the only way she will do it. I don't know if the behavior is representative of her demographic but it does feel rather anomalous. I was pleasantly surprised to see her using the phone as her GPS but still not quite clear on what type of digital media consumer she is. Would not be caught dead on Facebook, loves Netflix, still balances her check book by hand and heavily depends on Yelp and TripAdvisor to plan her travels. Pondering her digital persona was an interesting exercise with no outcomes.

The used bookstore has become a much more chaotic experience in comparison to what she has going on with Netflix. The one we visited was pretty disappointing all around and a telling sign of the times. The books they categorized as "classics" made us both cringe in horror - the one time E and I agreed on books. The tastes of the reading population is reflected in a used book store. It is clear that people are  generally sticking with best sellers and the top ten charts. Not many are seeking quirkiness and oddball writers, one hit wonders and out of print books. There are not many personal libraries left either to receive book donations from. There is always the library book sale to pick up a popular paperback on the cheap. The used bookstore was supposed to give you access to worlds in reading you did not even know existed. 

My experience reminded me of Charles Simic's excellent article on the demise of used bookstores.

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