I love books. Having worked for a time in a second hand bookshop I have added knowledge to my passion (a dangerous thing indeed). I acquired my ultimate book crush while I was working there, a 13 volume set of the Handy Volume Shakespeare pocket books bound in red leather from 1880. I just love the thought of someone a hundred years ago heading off to the theatre with them in their pocket and that these books have survived two world wars, an industrial revolution and now the electronic publishing era and are still loved and cherished by someone (and taken along to Shakespeare plays!)
But one thing that working in a bookshop (and for a publisher) has shown me is the incredible wastefulness of book printing. Piles of books are thrown away, entire collections people have lovingly acquired sent off to be pulped because they won’t make enough money when sold. It is truly heart breaking for the book lover. A bit like a volunteer at an RSPCA Rescue Centre I found myself re-homing all sorts of books, no matter how rough and ready they were, to avoid them going through the dreaded pulper.
All of this has made me increasingly selective when it comes to buying books. I don’t want my book collection to face that fate! Though I have a greater appreciation for books I am keener on having them in electronic format that ever before. I’m wondering if this is a more general trend. The books we do have we want to be beautiful, like little pieces of art. It really is judging a book by its cover but in the best possible way, appreciating the artistry of designers and bookbinders. For read-once-and-pass-it-on fiction and text books (who wants to carry around hundreds of those heavy beasts?!) electronic is the only way to go in my mind. Plus the lack of copyright on classics means that you can get anything over a certain age for next to nothing in electronic format.
With all this in mind I am off to purchase a Kindle this weekend. I’m VERY excited about it and have already realised that masses of my books, particularly classics, will be redundant. I know it will drastically affect my book buying behaviour in the future but now just comes the heart breaking process of deciding which ones stay and which ones go from my existing collection. How can a book- mother be asked to make such decisions?! I’m hoping that my love for having my book collection at my fingertips will quickly convince me that my less beautiful classics would be better off at the charity shop while they are still in a good enough shape to saleable. We’ll see how that goes!