Back in Cambridge, I can’t get through a seven-minute subway ride to work without seeing a dozen e-readers in action. To be honest, I think I see just as many commuters reading mobile devices as I do printed books. True, this could be the exception, since I live and work in one of those most literate and tech-savvy cities in the country. (Wish it were that I could place myself in one of those demographics!) At the same time, though, friends and family across the country have been talking about their Nooks, Kindles, and iPads. Some of them, perhaps due to the convenience of these devices, or perhaps due to their novelty, are reading now more than ever.
But I’m not at home right now. Instead, during my three-minute walk to the bakery here in Paris, I pass a comic book store, a traditional bookstore, and two small publishers. Despite the drastic changes to reading and publishing practices effected by digital technology, independent, brick-and-mortar bastions of the book still abound in this city. I’ve been here for over two weeks now. I’ve passed dozens of cafes, ridden the subway dozens of times, and only twice have I seen a tablet computer. Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath for the unlikely sighting of a Nook or a Kindle.
Maybe Parisians are more prudent about using expensive electronic devices in public. Maybe they’re a little more attached to the traditional printed book than are their American counterparts. Then again, maybe I’m just not as observant as others who have been watching this trend. Whatever the reason, after a short ride on the subway or a morning coffee at a cafe, you certainly wouldn’t think the book is experiencing the same identity crisis in Paris as it is back home.