Experiencing art and books

July 27, 2011

I love books. I love opening a new book for the first time and taking in a deep breath. It smells wonderful. There is nothing like it. I’ve moved toward the kindle since Christmas, and while I love it, there’s really nothing like holding a good book.

My friend Earl Gray is a book lover as well. He will often find good books on clearance and just give them out, often with a coke zero and now with one of his handmade origami birds.

Earl is a great friend, a great coach, and a great connector of people. He has been a pastor for many years. He loves people and he loves Jesus. And if you look carefully in a Starbucks in the Annapolis/Arundel area of Maryland, you just might see him hanging out with a new friend.

Borders Bookstores is shutting down, a real indication of the future of the printed book. Art has moved digital. But there is something about touching art, not just seeing it. And there is something about hold a book as well. It makes it real.

Earl laments the decline of both of these as he wonders through his favorite Border’s one last time. Take a read…


Discovering Frank Lloyd Wright when I was a kid was the beginning of my love of clean design. I left a practice origami crane on top of one of his books in the architecture section of the Borders in Annapolis, and climbed part way up one of those rolling ladders and took this shot with my phone.

It was the last normal day for Borders before all of the liquidation stuff began. I looked around to find a special person that works there that I have gotten to know over the years. He pulled most of the books that I ordered all that time. I found him at the back register and told him that I was sorry that the bookstore was closing down, and that what he did and the way he did it was what made it a great experience to be there.

He has to find another job now. It was a gift to be able to see him and talk to him. I bought a book at the front register then cut his line at the back one to thank him again and shake his hand. No one in line minded. It took five seconds, maybe. Then I walked out the parking lot door.

There will always be a need for three dimension books that you can touch and feel and write in. Electronic readers serve a purpose. At the the most fundamental level, we need real books in the same way we need real art that can be experienced live in real galleries and museums, and not just through digital versions of them.

Books, bookstores, and the people that love to work in them are all worth preserving.

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.