I bought a bookshelf at ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity resale place yesterday (if you haven't been to one of these, you've missed out! Building supplies and all kinds of other stuff). I needed it. My shelves were overflowing and there were three boxes of books in the floor. Where do they all come from, I ask? And then I remember. Oh yeah, the big used book sale, Amazon, Alibris...I buy a lot of books. Another one showed up today, a ballad book that is one of the definitive works--which is great, but where will I put it?
For the past two evenings I've been sorting and rearranging, making a place for the new shelf, cleaning out piles of paper or at least moving them to new locations. I found my license plate renewal form that I would have sworn had never arrived, and a stained glass window hanging that had mysteriously disappeared so I assumed it had been broken and quietly spirited away. There is some value to stirring up all this dust.
Still, there is not enough space. I had to double up the books on the thankfully deep shelves in order to get them all put away. What will happen when I buy--and I will--more books? Those who say hard copy is going the way of dinosaurs haven't met some of us dinosaurs apparently. The thing is, I buy older, out-of-print and possibly rare books. I buy old history, folklore, ballad and even poetry books. I buy books for Larry, my war buff. I buy cookbooks. And craft books. And old fiction books with cool covers.
Have I read them all? Are you kidding? These books are part of my retirement plan! They will be my porch reading, fireside reading, bedtime reading, cup-of-coffee reading, travel reading. I have read many of them and used many others for research, but there are still those I have yet to dive into, and they stand by in anticipation of a future with more time to read. Bliss. If I never read them, I can sell them on eBay and since most have some value, they could be considered my investment plan, couldn't they?
I have not yet succumbed to the attractions of the e-book and I'm not sure I ever will. Like Twitter, it just doesn't seem important enough to my lifestyle...yet. The time may come but for now I am content to pack a bag of books when I travel, spread them around me in the car, and flip pages with delight. Old books have neat illustrations, heavy paper pages, cloth bindings with gilt letters, a richness in my hands. The ebook is light and can slip in a pocket, but where, I ask, is the gilt? As my sister Julie said, we Connelly women tend to be ADH--oooh look sparkly!--D, so pretty book covers are like bling to me.
Is this perhaps a generational difference? Am I really a dinosaur in my pleasure in real books, and will the hardback book die out with the passing of my generation? It's possible, but I wonder, are there younger readers out there who share my passion for books (and especially old books)? Or will all of the valuable, rare books be digitized and only accessible with some kind of electronic reader? Many are already available in that format, and yet when I find one I am looking for, I will browse the e-text, decide yep, that's what I want--and go searching for the real book.
What say you, younger-than-me people? Will you be buying books, or will you be looking online for downloads and leaving the dusty old volumes in the archives to be pored over by grayheads with thick reading glasses?