The Great Book Purge

Very recently I made a momentous decision and when I tell you what it is I hope I don’t offend anyone out there. I know people can get very passionate when it comes to books.

So what is it? What did I decide to do I hear you ask?

Well, I have stopped purchasing books – actual ones with paper pages that is – and have rehomed the ones I already owned. I have an eReader and when I want to buy a book, it will be in the electronic format only from now on.

Please don’t shout at me all at once. Deep breaths.

Now that we have all simmered down I know the next question you are wanting answered is why?

Have I developed an aversion or dislike for words printed on paper bound together? Heavens no … never ever will that happen! Nor have I become allergic to bookshops. They are in fact one of my favourite places and I still go into them wherever and whenever I find them. 

I think if I ever won the lottery I would like to give up work and travel the world just visiting bookshops. I think that would be just heavenly.

But my reasons are genuine and thought out so let me tell you what they are. 

Cost. The average new release in trade paperback is $35 approx. (NZ) which is quite a chunk of change. Hardbacks are even more expensive. If there is no special price being offered they can reach over the $40 mark. Electronic copies of books are normally cheaper by at least half so I can get two ebooks for the price of a single traditional one.

And more often than not I have to go the electronic route anyway as the books I want to read are not available in New Zealand in traditional format. If I don’t want to be limited in choice I have to buy digital copies.

Space. I don’t really have the proper room in the form of nice attractive shelves to store traditional books so the ones I did have found themselves in a plastic bin at the bottom of my closet. When I wanted to retrieve things from its recesses I had to move them which got to be a drag, not to mention bad for my back when picking up reasonably sized storage containers full books. 

I am also something of a minimalist and don’t like to accumulate lots of things. I periodically clean my closet and drawers of clothes if I start to feel like I have too much apparel. Now some people will be shaking their heads tut tutting and saying ‘… but books are not clothes and nor are they just things …’ and you’re absolutely right. What can I say. It’s just the way that I am!

And I have to admit that I came to feel a little guilty about them being hidden away from view. A books purpose is to live with people. To mix and chat and network. To disseminate it words and ideas and tales. Not to be stuck in the dark, lonely, cold and thinking themselves unloved (I did love and cherish them … really I did).

Sticking to an eReader means my own personal library can be compact, always tidy, readily available and easy to transport.  And, might I add, it is easier to drink coffee and eat while reading when using an eReader. 

If I haven’t yet convinced you of the good sense of my actions perhaps what comes next will.

My local branch of the public library has been the beneficiary twice over as a result of this new direction in my book and reading life.

How?

I offered to donate all the books I had to them free of charge. They were all in mint condition and all fairly recent works. I dutifully made contact and sent them a list from which they selected what they wanted and that I happily delivered one sunny Sunday afternoon. I’m sure that my offerings meant that their purchasing budget will go a bit farther this year (libraries are always watching their pennies).

And by not owning any traditional books, it means that if I do want to turn actual pages (some books really need to be read the old fashioned way) I have to visit the same said library and make use of their facilities and lending services. The more patrons that walk through the door, the better for the library’s long term funding and survival so that makes me feel happy and that the whole exercise has been worthwhile.

A small selection of the remaining books that the Library did not want winged their way across the world to friends in the UK and Canada while the others were passed onto a colleague and her family. When they’re finished with them the books will be deposited in small local books exchanges. You know the ones … take a book, leave a book … that sort of thing. Again, the local community is getting benefit.

Am I regretting it? Nope. Not yet at least. 

I have a long list of books I want to read, many of which are on reserve at my local library and I also have preordered electronic copies of books not yet released so I am not lacking for anything in the reading world.

Sidenote: Why does it feel like time has slowed to a crawl when you are waiting for a book to be released? I’m sure it isn’t just me that experiences this phenomenon. Most of the time the days wizz past at breakneck speed except when waiting for reading material. Then it’s like time is passing with the speed of dripping treacle.

Anyway I hope I have managed to rehabilitate myself in the eyes of all the book lovers out there. I promise I am just as devoted to reading the written word as I was. I have just changed how I access those words. 

I will always keep reading for as Lloyd Alexander says ‘… it’s one of the most marvelous adventures anyone can have …’.

(Header Image: Negative Space)

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