21 January 2012

Traveling with a Printed Bound Book

Traveling has many benefits, as well as complaints. Along the way, we discover that printed bound books trump electronic devices when it comes to traveling facetime. Our great proprietor-manager could read (if he were not busy lamenting our losing the war to terrorists) his printed bound book while standing in the very long security check line. He could hold it open with one hand. He could stuff it in his carry-on bag when he needed to remove his shoes.

On board, he does not have to turn off his printed bound book while the plane taxies towards the proper runway and takes off. And, at O'Hare, "taxiing to the runway" is a good ten-minute ride, time enough to finish a few pages. When the plane begins its descent, along with tray tables up and seat backs returned to their original position, all electronic devices must be turned off. Someone with a printed bound book can continue to read until until the flight attendants prepare for "de-planing," a good twenty-five minutes later.

Booksellers gather in one of our favorite cities, New Orleans. The weather has been great although a cab driver from Chechnya says it's too humid and dreams of moving to San Diego. There are great restaurants patronized by locals and visitors alike, like Herbsainte on St Charles and Arnaud's in the French Quarter.

Beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde is all about the atmosphere which makes the hot fried dough and 1/2 lb of confectioner's sugar washed down with equally hot purplish-black coffee taste better than ever, even as you feel your arteries clogging.

Ann Patchett gives a keynote speech on the first morning on how she became a bookseller and she charms us all, even me, who has been unwilling to admit her into the ranks of hardworking, long-suffering booksellers.  For all the books Larry has read, he has not read one of the thirty titles chosen for the USA's inaugural World Book Night, on 23 April 2012 (hurry and sign up to be a Book Giver).  I am very surprised.  "Not even Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried?" I ask in wonderment.  He has chosen to read Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, enjoying it, of course.

Jeremy Davenport, a cousin of a good customer here in Dixon, does his thing on weekend nights at his eponymous lounge in the Ritz Carlton.  We go to his 5:30pm Thursday show.  He plays a little trumpet, sings a little, urges on Aaron, his alto saxophonist.  We buy his CD which the waitress gets signed -- the cover, not the CD itself, to Ruby, our granddaughter.  We are disappointed to find that there is not alto sax on the CD.  Aaron's mother sits by us, celebrating her birthday.  We mistaken her for his sister or his girlfriend until Jeremy introduces her.  Let's just say she does not look her age which is somewhere between your truly's and Proprietor-Manager's.

We hear about snowstorms all over the north: Seattle, Iowa, Pennsylvania, all moving east.  We debate about leaving the booksellers' educational conference early.  New Orleans on Friday is a beautiful 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  We come down on the wrong side and find out our flight is cancelled and we are re-routed to Miami.  No worries.  We enjoy grilled oysters on a half-shell at Acme Oyster Bar at the airport, and arrive home to Walton, IL in Lee County at 3:30am.

I am really unprepared for what I should be learning at "WI7," as this conference is called -- everything I can about ebooks -- "NTA" (Nook to Android) cards, Adobe Digital Reader Edition,...My head whirls.  We still have kinks in the selling of gift cards online.  We WILL get this ebook selling down.  Kindle remains off limits, but who cares?  Still people talk about traveling with a dozen books tucked inside an 8lb mobile device, and yet how can one beat a printed bound book which doesn't need to be switched off in the landing approach?  And, if a slightly bumpy patch results in a little OJ spilled on the cover?  Who cares?  Remember, you can't short-circuit wood pulp.

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