I am one of those people who, when instantly having no gift ideas for other people, thinks BOOKS. It helps that I talk to people who are book people. This year, when wondering about the gifts I should be, I actually had books in mind for certain people, mostly selfishly chosen but still. Other people I knew I wanted to give books, I just didn’t have an idea. It helped that the two people I had no clue about had a Goodreads account so I could stalk their reading tastes.
Yeah, I stalked bad. I was all over their to-read list like ketchup on french fries. Multiple times, too, when I couldn’t find a single book on the to-read list I was even vaguely familiar with and therefore had to come up with some sort of feel for the list so I could pick something I’d read that was vaguely related. Still pretty sure I failed, there, but we’ll see what the reaction is at Christmas. The entire point of this is that, without Goodreads–this book-centered Facebook–I actually had a clue what I was going to get these people and I was glad for it.
But then I had a problem. I HAD NO BOOKSTORES.
Seriously! My closest chain was a Borders, which cleared out weeks ago. My local indie, as small as it was, always had the big-ticket items in stock and could order whatever I needed, but that recently went out of business as well after years and years of losing money. This had been a long time coming (in fact, the store had been losing so much money over the years but kept in business so long that the IRS was looking into them being a tax shelter), but it still reduced me to tears. Plus, now I had NOWHERE TO SHOP FOR BOOKS. NO PLACE TO BROWSE. (Plus, my indie had been carrying my books. Now what was I going to do to sell these suckers?) It was the stuff of my nightmares, quite literally. And now my Christmas shopping plans were quite defunct.
Now, instantly you are saying, “…online shopping, you dummy.” But here’s the thing: I HATE shopping for books online. There are no words that adequately describe how much that makes me ill. Don’t even get me started on eReaders. Just see the side picture. Book stores and libraries have been my heavens and havens for as long as I can remember, and they are what I worship–not electronic buying and reading. Browsing bookstores is a favorite pastime of mine when I’ve got a place to do it. All this means, however, was that it took me forever to come to terms with the fact that I had to order all my presents ONLINE.
This, of course, made me cranky and late, which made me extra cranky. Then the books came late and I had to frantically wrap and yadda yadda. The insult to injury came that, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, my usual answer of “gift card to the bookstore” died on my lips. It was no longer a gift that existed, yet it was a gift I had lived off of on birthdays and Christmases alike. I had to ask for Amazon gift cards. It felt like I was spewing acid.
Even now, I can’t decide if the internet is helping or harming me right now. I know that without it, I wouldn’t have Christmases presents for 75% of my recipients and I wouldn’t have known what to get them to boot. However, I also know that it’s the internet that shoved my little indie out of business, and for that I will never forgive it. Well, unless it gives me a bookstore. Then we’d be even.