A few years ago during my senior year of high school, my mom gave me permission to skip school to attend a book release with some friends at a Barnes and Noble bookstore 45 minutes across town. We met in the school parking lot at 5 a.m. to carpool and make sure we were in line by six, and then waited six hours for the actual release.
The book? “The Host” by Stephenie Meyer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with who Stephenie Meyer is, I’ll give you a brief rundown.
Stephenie Meyer is responsible (single-handedly, in my opinion) for the sudden outburst of obsessions surrounding werewolves, vampires and the actor Robert Pattinson. Ringing any bells?
Yes, she is the woman who simply had a dream about a girl in a field with a vampire, woke up and turned the odd occurrence into a multi-million dollar franchise we now know as the “Twilight Saga.”
Let me just say I started reading the series before it exploded and, quite frankly, got out of hand. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to say I had even read one of the books.
But at this particular point in time, waiting outside a Barnes and Noble at 6 a.m., I was obviously still very much a fan of the series.
So why was I waiting in line for a book Meyer wrote that wasn’t associated with the Twilight Saga?
The first 200 people to buy her new book, “The Host,” received special wristbands which gave them admittance into a lecture by Meyer, a brief Q&A session and then the best part: a guarantee you’d meet the author and get one of your books personalized and signed.
If you’ve ever gotten the chance to meet one of your favorite or most admired authors, you understand how exciting this was for me.
After waiting six hours in line to simply buy the book to get the wristband, then relocating to another location, and waiting another few hours to get in and get a good seat at her lecture, I was thrilled when it was finally my turn to meet Stephenie Meyer and have her sign my favorite book in the series, “New Moon.”
We even talked for a little bit.
“New Moon” is notoriously known for being the least-liked book in the series, so when I handed her the book, she was surprised. I told her how I related to what the character was going through in the book, and that’s why it was my favorite. She smiled, gave me a wink, and leaned in close over the table as if she wanted to tell me a secret.
I leaned in close following her move, and she replied, “You know what; it’s my favorite, too.”
She proceeded to sign my book and handed it back to me. As I was walking away, she added, “I’m glad someone likes it.”
It was then more than ever that I realized how magnificent it is that there are living and breathing people (unless the book is, you know, old) behind the printed name on the front cover of a book. Meeting the woman with the creative imagination whose books I could not put down was like meeting the real Santa Claus.
OK, maybe not that incredible, but there’s a sense of satisfaction putting a face to the printed name.
A recent article in The New York Times, “Will You Sign My Kindle?” discusses the challenges authors will face when, in the next four years, more than $3 billion worth of ebooks will be sold online, leaving more and more people with a Kindle they’ll want signed instead of a real book.
Author T.J. Waters got the idea to create an application where authors can do just that, from a fan who said it was “too bad” he couldn’t sign his Kindle.
I’m starting to replay my Stephenie Meyer meet-and-greet in my head, this time thinking of how the situation would have panned out if I had owned a Kindle in the year 2008. This is how that situation might have faired.
First of all, I wouldn’t have gotten to skip school. I could have bought “The Host,” online. What a shame, my friends and I share so many memories getting up early, trekking to the other side of Houston and trying to keep each other awake for six hours while waiting outside.
While buying it, I probably would have had to hide the Kindle under my desk at school, and after watching the clock like a hawk, the moment the clock struck 12 (noon), I would have touched the “buy” button.
I probably wouldn’t have gotten the book; these days online so many people are waiting to purchase things that it’s impossible to ever be a winner of anything. But for the story’s sake, let’s just say I bought the book fast enough and received a wristband.
Well, let’s just hope my friends bought it fast enough, too. Otherwise I might be going alone. How boring.
Once it was my turn to meet Stephenie, I better cross my fingers that both of our Bluetooth features are working. The way the T.J. Waters app works is all via Bluetooth. I’d take a picture with Stephenie, send it to her device, she’d sign it electronically, send it back to me, and then I’d be on my way.
We’d probably both be so immersed in trying to get our Kindles to work properly, we probably wouldn’t have talked much at all. And since she’d be signing my Kindle, I’d have no idea her favorite book was “New Moon,” like mine.
I’d walk away with an electronically signed picture of Stephenie and me; that’s kind of cool. But if anything were to ever happen to my Kindle, poof. It would be gone.
I would have been robbed of an incredible experience. Over-exaggerating? Maybe. But can you blame me?
I appreciate how technology is continually changing with the times. But sometimes, things don’t need changing. Will I be the only person left who still wants to feel the touch of a book?
What’s that old saying? If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!