Monday, January 18, 2016

Autism Answer: I Love Buying Used Books - Should I?

I've recently grappled a bit for an answer to a question. 

I love to buy used books. But lately I've been wondering, should I?

Most of my life I've read used books; I love the worn look and feel, and I love the extra dimension of knowing I'm not the first to turn those pages and feel feelings, and I like the recycling aspect. I love to buy new sometimes as well but I've almost never been able to afford it. For years and years this love of worn books has worked perfectly for me. 

Then eBooks happened and I promptly harrumphed them. No smell! No tactile pleasure! No walking past a finished read displayed on my overflowing book piles reminding me of past feelings and lives! 

Yet, how many trees are saved by eBooks? I know that the technology creates problems for nature, but could it be as bad as producing so many physical books? 

And things also changed for me when I became an author myself. I realized, suddenly, that all those delicious books I'd bought or borrowed second hand were not feeding the author. I was falling in love with their sweat, tears, and deep creations but I wasn't paying them for it. 

Hmmmmmm..... I had to rethink a bit.  

Now, though, I've done some rethinking. And I have my answer.

I'm aware that I will likely shift my answer eventually, or at the least I'll rethink it again when new things are introduced for my consideration and understanding*. But for now I'm confident with where I am. 

I will continue to buy or borrow used books. Because it's a form of recycling, because it's a pleasure I crave and deserve, and because as an author I want, more than anything, for people to read and share my book. Sure, I hope I'll make a little money. I like food and coffee and whatever it takes to visit my sons in California. Usually those things take money. 

But when I imagine what I want most of all, it's the sharing of my stories. I love imagining someone years from now stumbling on my book in the dark quiet corner of their local thrift store and being invited into the pages! I'm energized by the possibility that they may even want to share that experience with someone else! 

Besides, when I read a book that I bought at a second hand book store or borrowed from my local library, people see it! People who may never have heard of the book get a look at it and see me enjoying it and, in a way, I'm giving it a little free advertising! 

The one thing I do different now, after my rethinking, is when I love a book, I make sure to take the time to write a review. 

Usually on Amazon but sometimes also here on my blog or elsewhere. Sure, even before this rethinking I often planned to leave a review for the sake of other readers, but I was lazy about it. I'd do it only when it was convenient. It never occurred to me that the author themselves would appreciate my review. I always had them on such a pedestal that I thought little ol' me was a voice that would offer no interest. 

Oops! Authors do care! Not about me but about all of us who read. 

I know that viscerally, now. 

So, thank-you for being here with me while I asked myself this question so that I could have a fun reason to articulate an answer. 

I hope you have a favorite way to read, borrow, and buy books too!!  

Hugs, smiles, and love!! 
Most of these were bought used.
*EDIT: A comment on Google Plus by the lovely Rachel Clark just offered more for our consideration. Apparently our technology--eReaders, mobile phones, gaming systems etc.--contain Conflict Minerals, mined in eastern Congo and fueling violent causes in the area while profiting folks who are far from the conflict. I am not a researcher but, sadly, this seems likely.