I love gadgets and technology, but in a lot of ways I’m a bit of a luddite. In the kitchen, rather than haul out the blender, the food processor, or the bread maker, I’d rather chop, whip, and knead by hand. My lawnmower at my old house was a reel mower (a model I continue to prefer, especially after what happened the most recent time I tried to mow the lawn). I prefer rakes to leaf blowers.
What can I say? I’m a little old-fashioned sometimes.
I’ve been of a similar mindset about books. I love paper books—I keep wanting to call them “real” books, but I know that a book in any form is just as real as another. I have paperbacks and hardbacks on my shelves that I’ve held onto for years and, in a handful of instances, decades.
But they do pile up after a while. It’s been years since I had shelf space for all of my books, and my to-read stack on the nightstand has had to be split into three stacks, most of which are close to hitting the lampshade on my bedside light. As I mentioned earlier, I recently started whittling down the books I own. I still don’t have room for everything that remains, and my to-read stack isn’t much shorter than it used to be. But, I’ve got another pile of books started for the second round of culling, and I’m reading as fast as I can in hopes that I can unload a few more.
I have also, after much reluctance, started buying e-books.
I know, I know—welcome to the twenty-first century, what kept you? Blame Vancouver for the change. Shifting between St. Louis and B.C. for grad school means bits of my library are never where I want them to be. Sure, I can take books back and forth or ship them in between, but that all takes money.
It started out innocently enough. I get e-books from my publisher, and I also use Overdrive to check out e-books from the St. Louis Public Library when I’m away from home. Handy, convenient. I bought a Kobo a couple years ago (before Borders went under) and I also have an iPad, but more often than not I find I prefer reading on my old iPhone-that’s-no-longer-a-phone. I’ve also bought a Humble E-book Bundle, along with a handful of books that are only available as e-books, which is of course how you can get short stories of mine that have been published by Untreed Reads (and there’s my shameless plug for the day).
Each step has been like an e-book gateway drug to the next level, until finally I realized that I’ve just been delaying the inevitable. So, the last three books I bought—The Devil’s Concubine, This Is How You Die, and Welcome to the Greenhouse—were e-books. Apart from kilobytes, they take up no shelf space. And I don’t have to dust around them.I’m sure I’ll still buy some traditional books—when they’re written by my friends, I often want one for them to sign. But more often than not I think an e-book, whether it’s one I buy or one I check out from the library, might suffice just fine.