With the recent news that e-book sales, by one barometer, have finally surpassed the sales of hardcover books, that romantic notion is dying a quicker death than anticipated. And book connoisseurs aren't happy: not only does this mean that they won’t be able to charm you with a witty aside about that Norman Mailer title you were reading, but they also can’t judge you for perusing James Patterson page-turners. What’s a culture snob to do in e-book era?
Apparently, they publish laments. The latest such article, following a spate of nostalgic pieces in The New York Times and Vanity Fair, is a feature in Slate by Mark Oppenheimer, who recalls a time where, "books made the first move" for you.
If only our times could be as simple as this:
When I was 22 there was the dazzling brunette who, weeks into the relationship, when I asked why she had agreed to a date, said, "I liked your books." ...At a small party I threw, to which I had invited the few people I knew in town, she—dragged there by a friend—had been intrigued by these books sitting on that bookshelf. (Ikea, of course.)Or this:
When I was 26 there was the English teacher at the summer school where I was teaching who noticed my copy of Best American Essays 1996. Her face broke wide open, into a big, eager smile, and she said, "The page from Anna Karenina!"