In Suburban Philly, an unloved Sci-Fi Nook
August 8, 2012 | 10:46 am
By Dan Eldridge
I stumbled onto one of those beautifully-quirky-but-ultimately-meaningless general interest articles on one of the many AOL Patch sites last night. This one comes from the dark and mysterious realms of the Malvern Public Library, which is located in a relatively affluent Philadelphia suburb. At this particular library—and at every other branch of its the Chester County Library System—a total of seven Nook e-readers were made available this past January for circulation among library patrons.
According to the story, “Each Nook is specific to one genre—mystery, romance, science, fiction, thrillers, fiction, nonfiction, biography—and comes pre-loaded with numerous titles.”
According to an MPL librarian by the name of Rosalie Dietz, the Nooks are so popular that all but one of the seven genre-specific devices are usually checked out at all times. As for the one Nook that’s often left on the shelf, unread and unloved? “The least popular is science fiction,” says librarian Dietz. “We usually have that hanging around here.”
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The article’s author points to the unpopularity of the library’s sci-fi Nook a an odd anomaly. After all, he seems to be suggesting, the Nook is a high-tech gadget. Does it not follow that Nook users would be interested in high-tech lit?
Personally, I’m inclined to make the exact opposite argument: Reading on electronic devices has clearly reached some sort of a cultural tipping point, and neither tablets nor e-readers seem to be viewed as particularly high-tech by the average reader these days. Which is also why I wasn’t surprised to learn which of the Malvern Public Library’s Nooks are far and away the most popular among borrowers.The answer: Fiction, mystery and biography. It doesn’t get much more mainstream than that, am I right?