Tuesday, February 07, 2012


It's been bothering me a lot lately. How many books we have. Or, I should say, I have. Most of the books in our library are mine.

When I was little, I used to dream of having a whole room dedicated to, and filled with, books. Rows and rows, like a library. All mine, to read whenever I wanted. (Yes, I was/am a nerd. Whatever. I'm now comfortable with that label.) My grandmother would take me to my favorite local bookstore and tell me I could choose one or two books, and I would agonize over which one for the better part of an hour. I'm sure I drove her crazy, but she kept taking me. That's love.

I've always been an avid reader. I read in the car, on the bus to school, wherever. My mom likes to tell the story of how I had to ask for directions to my high school after I got my drivers license and could finally drive myself. I didn't know how to get there because I always had my nose in a book for the ride.

A few years ago Amazon introduced the Kindle. I turned my nose up in scorn. Who would want to forgo the lovely texture of paper, the exquisite binding, the perfect fonts? Yes, I love technology, but I love my books more. I had finally reached the point in my life where I did have the room full of books, and it was wonderful. We spent a lot of time in our "library." Zoe played in there for hours as an infant and toddler, and so it became a library/playroom. Guests would walk in and gawk at all the books. "Holy cow, have you read all those?" It was a source of pride.

Then, M gave me a Kindle for Valentine's Day. It was wholly unexpected. He beamed. "The guy who spoke at the conference I went to had one, and on a break he let me see it. I thought of how much you read and knew you'd like it. I went back to my room that night and ordered one for you!" He was careful to explain that he chose the Kindle specifically because it wasn't backlit. "You spend all day in front of a computer. Your eyes need a break. With the Kindle's magnetic ink system, it's just like reading from a book." Yeah, right, I thought. I was pretty much being an ungrateful little snot. I just knew I would hate this thing, and felt bad that he was so positive about it. (Turns out that one of the real reasons he was so gung-ho about the purchase was that he just knew I would only download the free books, thereby saving him a ton of money. Silly boy.)

And then, I used it.

Holy mother of all things literary, it's just about the coolest thing I have ever owned. A crap-ton of books, all in one little spot. I could flip back and forth at will. I could download books with a couple of button clicks. I could lay on one side and use only one hand to hold it and turn pages. It is awesome when traveling because it's very, very thin and lightweight, and I can stand in a boarding line with one hand on my luggage while holding/page turning with the other. Plus, as soon as I finish a book, another one is just waiting to be downloaded.

Turns out I don't miss paper books at all.

Since we just moved, I have had the opportunity to look at everything we own with a cold, calculating eye. "Do we really need this? No? Out it goes!" The books have come within my sights. I did give quite a few to the St. Louis Book Fair, figuring I no longer needed the giant hardback "Airplanes of War" that so intrigued me in high school (reference Nerd status) because a.) I'm a different kind of nerd now and b.) the info is so drastically outdated and c.) better info and pictures on the internets, duh.

I kept many others. My beloved Tom Clancy set. A whole series of biographies on the Founding Fathers (that's my new Nerdism). Anything signed, like my cherished Letters from Robben Island by Ahmed Kathrada. They were packed in boxes that sagged with their weight, and my movers silently cursed me a couple weekends ago.

But now? Now I wonder if I needed to keep all those. The signed copies, yes. Those are definitely special and cannot be replaced on the Kindle. And my gorgeous photography books. But pretty much everything else can probably go.

I lamented to M the other day, "I wish there was a program where I could turn in all my hard copy books and get the digital copies for my Kindle." He laughed and said, "I'll just pay you to get rid of them!" I thought more about it, and figured I'm not the only one in this predicament. So I did what any self-respecting nerd today would do: I googled it.

Turns out Amazon itself has a lovely book buy-back program. My pulse quickened. Yes! The first thing I saw was the process, wherein you search the program for the title you have to trade in (must be exact edition, etc.), find it, and click the trade-in button. The site gives you a label to ship the book back (free shipping!) and then once Amazon receives and enters it into the database, your account is credited. Heaven! Bliss! I'll start today!

And then, just to check it out, I searched for the Tom Clancys. Turns out I can trade in those lovely hardcover books and be credited anywhere from 65 cents to $1.45 for each. Wow.

So, that's not going to work. I have an issue with getting 65 cents for a book I shelled out 20 bucks for. It's the reason I still have my freshman chemistry book. I paid $70 for it and the student bookstore wanted to give me $5 for it at the end of the semester, when I knew they'd turn around and sell it for $60, especially since it was hardly used. (see Why I Am Not An Engineer.) It was the principle of the matter. I'd rather have a $70 doorstop than let the bookstore so blatantly profit from my lack of interest in basic chemistry. In current times, this translates to I think I'd rather give all my books to the Book Fair and at least let a charity benefit.

So that's where I am right now. A raging internal debate on what to do with all these f*cking books. Hopefully I'll figure out a solution before we move back into our new home.


Post a Comment

<< Home