Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Books, Books, Books

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?


lisa said...

I was laughing so hard...I felt I was reading about myself..I will always have a place for books.. My daughter said she was thinking about a kindle but isn't sure just yet..So I asked on my blog about Kindles.. I know college students don't like them for their college books because they want the real thing in there hand and to go back through the pages and write foot notes....my daughter loves books and so do I.. There is nothing better than curling under a quilt and reading a real book.. I just got rid of some cook books but it was so hard to part with them..They were not the older cook books..just newer ones that I just did not like...

We go to the Restore all the time looking for things..knobs and hinges...just an awesome place to dig around in and your helping Habitat for Humanity to..

Have a great time sorting the books...Lisa

Granny Sue said...

That's just funny, Lisa! I just hopped over to your blog adn there we were, talking about the same thing!

Markin said...

So much depends on the book, Susanna. If all you want to do is read it -- beach reading, say: the sort of thing you would pass along to the next book sale -- an e-book version is ideal. I cannot imagine life without my Kindle now ...

Yet, like you, I am a biblioholic, and love books as physical entities as well. I understand exactly what you are talking about, up to and including running out of shelf space.

So, books that would give me pleasure for more than just reading, those I continue to get in print. Any book I know I want to retain always (including "beach reading" by my favourite authors), I get in print. Oversized and illustrated books, books with lovely covers, books that depend on formatting (poetry, say), books I need for research (especially where having more than one book open at a time and side by side is important!), I get in print. (Although I can see the day where devices like iPad, with their full-colour high-def screens, might replace some illustrated books.)

The rest? At this point, given the book overflow situation, I often will not buy a book at all if it's not available for the Kindle. My criteria for print books have (and must!) grow quite stringent. Exceptions are made, but rarely.


Granny Sue said...

Good points, Mario, especially about having them open side by side.

I believe it will be an evolving process, that ebooks and readers will continue to drop in price so that making choices becomes both simpler and more complex.

Janet, said...

Well I'm not one of your younger readers, but give me a real book any day. I've got lots of old children's books where the pictures are so beautiful they could be framed.

Jai Joshi said...

The e-book definitely has it's place in the scheme of things and is becoming increasingly popular, but the love for real 3D books will never go away. I know I could never part with them.


Mama-Bug said...

Sue it always amazes me the things you think you've lost always turn up in odd places! I hope they never do away with real books, they've been my friends since I was a small girl. I've always got a book somewhere close by even when I'm traveling. Looks like you got a good deal on the bookcase.

smallpines.com said...

Ohhhhh, I love books. Truth be told, just between you and me, most of that storage unit we rent (to store our stuff that doesn't fit) is full of books. Some antiques, a few pieces of favorite furniture, a few seasonal things, bust mostly ... books! =)

Country Whispers said...

I prefer the older version of things rather than all the new fangled stuff.
Hardbacks should be on ALL books.

Checkbooks should be just that and not a silly plastic card (debit cards).

The list goes on and on.
My SIL from your neck of the woods tells me all the time that I am just "old" even though she is older than I.
I don't care for all the new stuff these days. I'm quite happy with the tried and true versions.

Oh and by the way, you can NEVER have too many books!

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