Sentimental About Books

I’ve been trying to clean out some of the clutter lately. Mostly I’m selling things I don’t need anymore, like video games I’ve never played, movies I’ve never watched, and books I either will never read or own digitally. My goal, even when I sell these things back to a place like Half Price Books or Play It Trade It, is to come home with less than I went out with. If I go out with a bookbag full of stuff, that bookbag better feel a lot lighter on the way home.

Last Sunday I failed.

I sold something like 7-8 video games, mostly war simulation shooters I was never gonna play. I came back with a graphic novel, a TV season, a PC game in a large box, and two books.

Like I said I kinda fell off the wagon.

The books were the toughest thing to bring in. Over the last year I’ve tried to be less sentimental about books, or rather, less general in my sentimentality. If I can have the book for cheap or free digitally, then so much the better for my shelf space. Keep nice books, not all books.

These two were the sequels to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War a book I just started reading on my Kindle last week. Digitally the books are $7.99 apiece, but here they were only $3.99. So here was my question, is it worth paying twice as much to not have the books take up space?

This time anyway, the answer was no. But it highlighted the way in which I’ve changed my thinking about reading. I’m also reading Stephen King’s Under The Dome right now, and frankly I’m happy I’m not carrying around those 1000 pages. King’s books may be good, but they are also bulky and don’t trade in for much, so paying a few bucks for the digital copy just makes more sense.

I bought these books cause I’m cheap, but I also realize that by doing so I’ve probably decreased my likelihood of reading them soon. My Kindle is with me all the time, by virtue of putting together a book and trying to read more. These books are currently on a shelf, and probably won’t get riding time in my bookbag until I remember them six months from now, even with how much I’m enjoying Scalzi. The $7.99 Kindle book, on the other hand, would probably get read shortly after being purchased. And frankly, there’s still a decent chance I’ll buy the digital, maybe at a sale price, then sell back the physical when I can.

So by buying two books I was contemplating the nature of how I wanted to collect them (did I care if they were all in the same format or not), whether or not money was the only factor in their value, and thinking about frankly where the heck I was gonna put two more books.

I always loved carrying around a lot of books, and would read several at a time. The Kindle gives me the ability to carry those books, reference texts, and magazines all with me in a tablet. Much as I hate to admit it I’m a sucker for good technology. But I never used to think of books as an inconvenience, as something to be winnowed. They were/are a decoration as well as a reading resource.

But I think I have all the decorations I need. Just not all the books.

How are you buying your books now? Would you pay more for an eBook even if you could get the physical one for cheaper?

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10 Comments

Filed under Trube On Tech, Writing

10 responses to “Sentimental About Books

  1. Jeff Peters

    I’ve almost broke down and purchased a kindle on several occasions, but I know I’d miss owning the physical books and lining them up on my book shelf. Silly, but I’m sticking to the old-fashioned way for now. And paying more money I guess.

    • I’ll never be able to fully get rid of all my physical books. Believe me, I share the same joy in lining them up and being surrounded. I’m just trying to keep from being buried, and also to stop hoarding books and to actually start reading them. With my current work and homelife lifestyle, the eReader is a lot easier way of making that happen. If your library is fortunate enough to have a program like this, borrow an ereader, or maybe from a friend. It doesn’t have to replace books, but it can augment your reading. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. madiebeartri

    I do buy ebooks. I love my ipad. …but there are times that i wont a real book in my hands. I have a difficult time getting rid of old books. It kills me to part with them.

    • Believe me I know what you mean. I’m really only able to part with books in small chunks. When I moved in with my wife her friend Jessica suggested I ought to get rid of a third of my books. Four years later and my best guess would be maybe an eighth. But I am starting to see a distinction between mass-market paperbacks of crappy mysteries and star trek novels, and books I really want to keep an pass on. One thing I’ve been doing for a few of these books is buying nicer hardcover sets and selling my paperbacks. If it’s going to be an heirloom, then make it an heirloom. As for any other book, it’s not terribly realistic that I’m going to circle back around and read it again unless it was fantastic. Better to pass it on to someone else then let it languish on my shelf..

  3. I agree the Kindle is pretty awesome and so slim! I can carry around tons of different books. I’m sort of sucked in, however if I see a cheap paperback somewhere I will definitely pick it up and if I like it enough add it to the permanent collection. But other times I’ll pass it on to someone else I know or bring it back to Goodwill or somewhere else. I’ve been pretty in love with Kindle lately though, although I don’t like to spend tons of money on books all the time. It is SO convenient though. I love that if I’m not feeling a certain book at the moment, I can switch to another. I also love that I can send my novel to my Kindle and read it as if it were already published as an ebook. It’s pretty spectacular. I definitely recommend it.

    • I agree with you 100%. Book switching is fantastic (I’m reading 4-5 books right now on one slim device). I find that I rarely lend books to anyone because it really doesn’t come up that much, and I’m more of a fan of selling to bookstores where book lovers will naturally gravitate, though goodwill is good as well (I waste a lot of time up there on my lunch breaks). For me carrying a 1000 page programming reference on the kindle is the best part. One book that supported my new non-fiction project was C++ in a nutshell, which would have added many pounds to my bag if I had a physical copy. Thanks Victoria!

  4. I love my books and buy them mostly used, from Amazon, unless it is one that I just absolutely cannot wait to read. I have Kindle PC and that allows me to purchase a lot of free books and lower price books. Either ways is fine, but I prefer the books themselves.

    • Never been a giant fan of reading on the PC, and the Kindle Cloud Reader has some limitations that make little sense to me, but Kindle is great for free public domain stuff. I hate to admit this, but one of the first things I sold physical copies of were “the classics”, in part because I realistically didn’t think I was going to read many of them, and so many are available for free on the Kindle. A really good book maybe, but otherwise… Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I’ve come round to Kindle eventually mainly for the convenience, but will never move away from real books 100%, not because I like to keep them on my bookshelf, but because I like to give them away. I am an avid BookCrosser and have given away 700 books so far. You can’t do that with a Kindle.

    • That’s a neat program. I might have to consider that for some of my stuff. Lending is certainly more difficult with an ebook and seems poorly implemented when it is at all. Nothing like just handing someone a book. For me it doesn’t come up much, but I understand why it’s appealing to those who do.

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