Sam Norton

A&E Editor


Technology has the ability to revolutionize how society interacts with not only each other but their surroundings as well. It has changed the channels of communication, and it even changed the business of local stores.

Since introducing e-readers such as the Kindle and the Nook, and the introduction of iTunes and iPods, stores such as Toadstool Bookshop and Turn it Up have had to become more flexible with the types of products they sell.

According to Don Luckham, manager of Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, the increase in e-readers has affected the sales of the store.

“Initially, a lot of people would express concern about the sales of e-books, but I think more recently people feel that at some point those sales are going to level off and that there are lots of people who still want a physical book,” Luckham said.

The increase in popularity among e-readers and e-books has forced independent bookstores, such as Toadstool, to become a player in the digital world.

“For a while now, we have been selling Google e-books on our website. We belong to the New England Independent Booksellers Association, which is part of the America Booksellers Association. They were able to reach in and create them with Google for us to sell Google electronic books on our website,” Luckham said.

Luckham said that the popularity of e-readers is because of convenience. The picture of curling up with a good book—antiqued pages, that smell of dust that radiates off the pages, the crinkling of the paper as you turn the page, and the weight of its hardcover resting in between your fingertips, has been replaced by the idea of sitting down with a computer screen, pressing a button to flip the page.

Books were once considered pieces of history, all with their own story to tell, but that idea has disappeared as quickly as newer editions of Kindles debut on the shelves.

Reading is no longer considered as a form of relaxation and enjoyment; reading now revolves around convenience—the convenience of having multiple books at your fingertips with just one click and at a less expensive price But Luckham said that this form of technology is not without its faults.

“The problem with the Kindle has been that you have to buy your e-books from Amazon. The people who shop here like getting their books from us and they would be given Kindles as gifts and then find out that they have to support Amazon in order to get e-books,” Luckham said.

According to the article “The Bookless Library,” in “The New Republic,” written by David A. Bell, “Total e-book sales in January 2012 came in close to twice those of a year previously, and were more than ten times the figure for January 2009. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 21 percent of all Americans have read an e-book in the past year, with the proportion predictably higher among the young.”

However, Bell warns in his article that e-readers too will become left in history with books. “Some critics warn that digital media are more fragile than paper, and fear that as digital formats evolve, older files will become unreadable,” Bell said.

For people such as Luckham, though, books are more than just fragile pieces of paper; they are pieces of art. “I look at my bookcases at home, and it is almost like art to me because I love them so much. I think having a more tactical experience makes it a more personal experience with the content,” Luckham said.

Now, books are not the only items going digital; textbooks are now becoming digital as well.

According to Helen Babonis, textbook manager of the Keene State College Bookstore, “We’ve had more this semester of faculty saying please make this option (e-texts)available to students and when we offer that option I would say that a print version versus an e-text, 45 to 90 percent of students will still choose the print version over the e-text.”

This is because having a print version of the textbook, rather than an online version, is more convenient for the students.

Having a print version allows students to make notes, and highlight the important material.

However, while it is more convenient now for a student to have a print version of their textbook, this does not mean this idea will not change in the future.

“More and more are going to become available online and I am going to assume that as each generation gets further and further away from textbooks or print version books that they will become more popular. I do see down the road that most will become electronic partially because of the publisher’s incorporating so many online tools for them,” Babonis said.

These online tools include ways for students to highlight the text online and also record notes. Despite all of the tools that are included in the online textbook version, students still prefer the physical textbook.

“I don’t think it’s coming as fast as they thought it was going to be. I think the publishing companies thought we would be almost 100 percent electronic, but we are not,” Babonis said.

Like textbooks, CDs and records are now being replaced by a more digital version. Since the introduction of iPods and iTunes, the way people listen to music has changed parallel to the developments in technology.

According to Chuck Vecchione of Turn it Up, “When I grew up listening to music, I would spend a lot of time sitting down with the CD I was listening to and go through the lyrics and go through the whole thing. Now, when I buy a CD, there is nothing in there because they expect you to download it.”

Due to advancements in technology, music stores such as Turn it Up have had to become flexible with the types of products they sell. Vecchione said that in order to become flexible, Turn it Up has incorporated a selection of DVDs into their store.

“Mostly, I think as a business like this you have to be flexible. Ten years ago when this place started selling VHS tapes, that was a step in the right direction. Since then, we had to make the jump to DVDs, which was an easy jump,” he continued. “It attracts a wide swath of people to the store. There are people who come in here just to look for DVDs.” However, even though Turn it Up has incorporated DVDs into their retail, CDs are still their biggest sellers, according to Vecchione. For Vecchione, nothing compares to sitting down with a record and listening to it—really listening to it.

“The things I like the best are the things I have on vinyl and what I can sit down and play for a room full of people. It’s a great way to experience music,” he continued, “I feel like the listening experience is much better, it is much more personal when you are listening to an actual record than when you are just listening to an abstract thing such as a downloaded song.”

Despite what you prefer, technology is here to stay. However, the way technology is used is dependent on its user.


Sam Norton can be contacted at

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