The more social readers among us have a complaint with electronic readers like the Kindle, the Nook, and the pad: the book's dust jacket is no longer visible to passersby. That visibility used to be a great excuse to start a conversation with someone about the book. Now, for all they know, you're working on a spreadsheet.
As a result, say for those of you who live in an area with public transportation, it's now harder to get a handle on the popular book of the day. The only reason I picked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude so many years ago was that I could see its dust jacket nearly everywhere on the MBTA Green Line in Boston.
So the use of electronic readers is one more way that books are fading from our collective consciousness.
However, there's an interesting development here in Chapel Hill: The town's public library has (albeit temporarily) set up shop in one of the local malls. It's expanding its building here, and while renovations are under way, it has moved most of its collection to a shopping center relatively close to downtown.
I know that Chapel Hill is not the only locale in the country where this has happened, but it's new for our town. Imagine: our library is no longer a special destination; rather it's woven into the everyday fabric of consumer life-a place you could easily drop by while running other errands.
Two brief asides: First, malls have typically harmed downtowns and city centers-where the libraries used to be. Now, perhaps, they can be partners. Ah, the irony. Second, I must admit that the main reason it was attractive for the Chapel Hill Public Library to...