Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Can libraries, bookstores, and Kindle peacefully coexist?

By / November 6, 2009



"Having fun isn't hard when you have a library card." Or so Peter Daining reminds us in his worthy post today on Tainted Green entitled "Libraries: The cheaper, greener alternative to  book stores" in which he notes that, "it takes around 30 million trees to produce all the books in the US."

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

If borrowing a book is not always as speedy as buying one, Daining exhorts us to take this quick pop quiz before we plunk down our dollars for the paperback du jour: "What’s better for the earth, waiting for a week for your neighbor to finish reading a book, or each buying a copy?"

"The green movement is a lot like preschool," Daining counsels. "Patience and sharing must be key virtues of the environmental movement, if it is to succeed."

I love the sentiment (and his blog) but I must admit that I remain a bit torn.

I adore my branch of the Boston public library. It is literally across the street from my home (I can see into the stacks from my bedroom window) and I am amazed at the books they can find for me through the inter-library loan system.

But at the same time, I am also an enthusiastic patron of our local independent bookstores (and, it must be confessed) sometimes even the chains. (A Friday night spent in a big Barnes & Noble is at least as good as most movies.) And I have a Kindle which, for convenience and speed, is well worth its tiny weight in gold.

I want to be green and I love the idea that in every city there is somewhere that anyone can find free books. So long live our wonderful public library system.

But I also want to see our bookstores survive (or better, even thrive). And at the same time I am one of the optimists who believes that in the long run (once the dust settles) devices like the Kindle will be good for reading.

So I guess I would like to believe that there is room for all three in our lives – libraries, bookstores, e-readers – and that all have their somewhat different uses and will find a way to peacefully coexist.

What do you think? Am I being naive – or are there enough different kinds of readers out there to support all three?

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/MarjorieKehe.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story