I need to read. Even though I’ve always budgeted carefully, I never scrimp on books. Even when I was a poor student, I still allowed myself to buy a book a week.
In fact, that’s how I learned that clever budgeting allows you to have a few small luxuries even on a limited income.
I opened an Amazon account a long time ago, as often the books were cheaper that way, even with freight and the high US dollar (which shows just how expensive some things are Australia). When they began to ship the Kindle internationally, I eagerly ordered one. Now, it was possible to cut out freight charges altogether, and with the strengthening Aussie dollar, reading became much more affordable for our family. Plus it seemed a much more environmentally-friendly way to read.
Soon after, tablets became popular, and if you had one you could avoid buying Amazon’s device as well. I’ve since discovered that you can publish your own book on Amazon’s network or on eJunkie very cheaply too. No publishing contract required.
It’s as if the book has become unbound in every sense of the word.
But since embracing this technology, I’ve come to realise just how much I love real books. I like to be able to flip forward and see what’s coming up in the next chapter; I like knowing where I’m up to. And when a book takes a physical form, it reminds me to read it. There are a few books on my tablet I never finished simply because I didn’t have that physical reminder.
I also like the tactile quality of real books. I like nice cover designs and authoritative fonts. And I like being able to lend helpful books to my friends. It’s so reassuring to have a book in your bag, or on your bedside table.
Recently, my favourite independent bookshop closed down. I’d supported them for years, always going out of my way to buy from them instead of the big chain stores. But now even the chain stores are doing it tough in Australia, I think because they joined the eBook revolution too late. So perhaps it’s time to start buying real books again, or we will all be denied the pleasure of walking around a bookshop and discovering something we’d love to read.
We are living in a small space, so we have to keep our book collection under control. We go to the library often, and we sell and donate boxes of books regularly. But no matter how hard I try to be a minimalist, or how bad I feel about the impact on the environment, I can’t give up the thrill I get from sitting down with a great book.
What do you prefer to read: real or electronic books?