It’s true. Just like good ol’ Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (sidenote: I hope my future kid also gets in trouble for this…I’m basically hoping for a nerdy kid). Some of my best memories are walking into a bookstore with my mom or dad and negotiating how many books I could leave with. My dad put his foot down on the Babysitter’s Club and Goosebumps series because he knew that I would finish those in about an hour, but he was more lenient with classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Up until recently, I still found myself wandering through bookstores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, like Strand and Community Bookstore, intoxicated by the scent of ink and paper and the weighty feel of a book in my hand. My shoulders, however, didn’t like the extra weight the books put on them when stuffed into my already crammed bag (so I bought a Kindle), and my wallet didn’t like the price of them either. So, I made the hard decision to stop buying books.
It really came down to cost. I spent $277 on books and magazines in 2013. Ouch. All those Kindle books I bought when I first purchased the device weren’t cheap either — I think the median price was around $10-13. I thought I found a happy medium by buying used books on amazon.com, but those $0.01 books ended up being $4 with shipping and handling — and they were still heavy. But I wasn’t going to stop reading. I have a 25-minute subway ride twice a day and need to read to keep sane. While I subscribe to the New Yorker, I still sometimes want to read a good, long, novel. Lucky for me, I discovered that I can borrow e-books for free via the Brooklyn Public Library. I’m still kicking myself for not joining earlier when I became a resident, but I’ve been taking full advantage since I joined about four months ago. While I sometimes have to wait on a waiting list, it’s usually not too long (plus it gives me time to catch up on the back issues of the New Yorker that are piling up on my dresser).
If I had lots of income to spare, I would definitely support my local bookstores as often as I could. I still love the feeling of browsing and discovering books that I might not have otherwise, but I definitely feel guilty when I stealthily write down the title of the book and look it up on the library website when I get home. While I miss the visceral feel of books, I really don’t miss the shoulder and budget pain anymore.