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The benefits of browsing

With the seemingly incessant clatter about e-books, Kindles, iPads, Kobo, et al., it often feels as though the world of books and literature has become inseparable from that of technology: every day we are told more and more decisively that the digital frontier is the future of publishing. Adapt or die has become almost a mantra in this brave (or crazy) new world.

Attempting in a small way to cut through the tech chatter is Sam Jordison, writing on the Guardian‘s book blog about the joys of an experience that seems almost quaint these days: browsing for actual books in an actual bookstore:

Among the many things that will be lost if The Man gets his way and the supermarkets, Amazon and e-book readers succeed in driving independent bookstores from our streets will be proper browsing. All those Amazon recommendations, Facebook friend requests, tweets, reviews, and yes, blogs, sometimes get too noisy. It is a relief to go into a bookshop and quietly pick up a book. It satisfies my hunter-gatherer vanity. And there’s the simple pleasure of judging a book by its cover “ which, contrary to popular cliche, is effective and fun.

Jordison acknowledges the irony of complaining about the hegemony of the Internet via a blog post, but suggests that his modest endeavour is intended merely as a reminder about the pleasures and benefits inherent in a more traditional way of doing things:

I’m hoping I can redress the balance slightly by asking about the best books you’ve found by browsing alone. And if you can go and find a good one in your local independent in real time, so much the better.