Sunday, 4 December 2011

Happy to be a luddite

When it comes to books, people seem to fall into two camps. Either you have a lot, or you have none at all.

Our family falls into the first camp. I have never bothered to count my books, as it would take too long. I simply measure them by the metre. If I include the cook books and the reference books (dictionaries, atlases etc), I have about 33 metres worth. The kids have another 7 metres worth of books between them. If I win Lotto, I plan to build a library that looks something like the second last photo in this post.

And that's after numerous annual book culls.

The rest of my side of the family is the same. My library pales into comparison with that collected by my parents - but then again, they've been at it for over twice as long as me (if you count the starting point as being in your mid 20s).

Buying presents for all family members used to be simple - just go to a quality bookshop and browse for a while. The only problem with that is I'd buy a book each for my parents and siblings (if it was Christmas), and 8 or 9 books for me, making it a rather expensive visit. The rest of my family has the same problem. One year, we holidayed together and brought along all the books we had bought for each other and for ourselves. It came to around 40 books - all of them solid, non-fiction books. We were there a week, and the challenge in that time was for each of us to read all the books we would't be taking home.  It was a challenge most of us managed to meet.

I now have a problem. The rest of the family has migrated to the iPad - particularly for reading e-books. Mum and Dad like it because they can read in bed without having a bedside lamp on, and since their eyes are getting a bit old, they really like the ability to increase the font size. No more squinting at tiny fonts through a magnifying glass. Since they travel a bit, and are voracious readers, they've been able to cut their luggage back considerably by migrating to e-books.

And who said pensioners were afraid of technology?

I am the family Luddite. I am the only one still buying physical books. I can't help it - I simply like the look and feel of books too much. For instance, I'm currently reading a Folio Society book on the Siege and Fall of Troy. The book is a thing of beauty - it comes in its own case, is a hardback (of course) and is printed on gorgeous wove paper and bound in three-quarter cloth (whatever the hell that is). Even the font is worth admiring - it's Palatino. The book appears to be out of print, but I'm sure it cost me 80 bucks - and it's a short book, so that's nearly a buck per page.

Even with the upfront cost of an iPad, it would make plenty of financial sense for me to make the switch to e-books. For starters, moving house would be a lot easier, and I wouldn't have to shell out $900 for another book case every few years (I like nice bookcases too). And then there are the enormous number of books that are available electronically for nothing.

Anyway, Christmas is coming, and I'm screwed. No one wants a book any more. If they want it, they just download it. What's a guy to do?


1735099 said...

E-books are a scourge. I have been invited/harangued to convert my modest offering to an e-book, but would make about 1/4 of the current return per copy if I did so.
Luddites rule......

Minicapt said...


With two iPads and a Kindle to balance my several thousand volumes ...


bettiwettiwoo said...

'What's a guy to do?'

Buy e-books for Christmas presents, then get yourself to a bookstore and buy all the books that you want for yourself.