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Book People are Weird, and People Are Weird About Books

29310411632_4b6997eb8a_hI was reading a piece in the Chicago Tribune this morning which reminded me that people are frequently weird about books and everything about them.

Last Tuesday John Warner penned a paean to the airport bookstore:

On the road, I’m stuck. What if I’m looking for a tight little thriller, but I’ve brought a sprawling family saga?

For my recent trip, I got a great jolt of excitement because a book I’d been anticipating for a year or more, Colson Whitehead’s "The Underground Railroad," had its pub date moved up when Oprah selected it for her book club and I’d have it in hand before I left.

Where was I going, you ask. Who cares? I had my books.

And the great thing about books and travel is that every airport in the world seems to have a bookstore.

Because I follow my own version of the Boy Scout Code as applied to books, "Be prepared with at least one, preferably two more books than you need," I’ve never had occasion to buy anything from an airport bookstore, and yet it gives me great comfort to know they’re there.

How many of you are this way? Maybe you get to the gate a bit early — I’m a two-hours-before-the-flight guy myself — and there, in the middle distance is a little Hudson’s storefront. Though your shoulder aches already from your book-stuffed carry-on, you go and peruse, noting what intrigues, what you might turn toward if necessity strikes.

Warner gushes with love for Hudson’s, calling it an airport bookstore. That in and of itself is odd because Hudson’s is a chain of airport newsstands, some of which also carry a few hundred books. You’d have to be looking at them through rose-colored glasses to mistake one for a bookstore, and still have to squint damned hard.

Warner spends an inordinate amount of time reading on a screen (it’s a job requirement). He has to read everything from press releases to article drafts to news pieces on a screen, and yet he still singles out paper books as being the one item that he has to take on trips and devotes a whole article to paper books.

If you don’t see why that is so strange, consider a vinyl enthusiast writing about carrying enough records on a flight – even though their smartphone carries hundreds of mp3s. That piece would be widely mocked on social media, and yet when someone writes the exact same article about paper books it receives murmurs of agreement.

Can you imagine someone writing that he needed to make sure that he had enough vinyl records to make it through a trip, and writing about how convenient it was to stop at FYE on the way to the airport?

Because that is what Warner is doing here.

I tell you, people are weird about books.

image by JeepersMedia

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Patrick September 12, 2016 um 10:08 am

I took WAY TOO MANY books when I traveled in the past, and usually bought more while I was away – trips were a chance to check out local bookstores.

These days, I have 600 books on a Kobo Mini.

But this is kind of oddly charming.

Nate Hoffelder September 12, 2016 um 10:21 am

There was a time where I carried a dozen books on a trip, but that was back in the early aughts when I had no other option.

I respect someone’s choice to do it in 2016, but to write about it like Warner did is just weird. It’s like writing about the fit of your girdle. Why is it even a topic of conversation?

Smoley September 12, 2016 um 11:53 am

Do you think the Hudson House stores in the airports sell more books, or more magazines and snack foods?

Nate Hoffelder September 12, 2016 um 12:13 pm

More snack foods than books.

DavidW September 12, 2016 um 10:01 pm

Smells like paid content masquerading as a real story.

Nate Hoffelder September 12, 2016 um 10:15 pm

I did wonder about that, yes.

On the other hand sometimes people write stuff like this.

People Are Weird About Books, and Attempts to "Improve" or "Fix" Books in a Web Browser Proves it | The Digital Reader September 29, 2017 um 11:19 am

[…] People are weird about books. […]

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