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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Buying books vs. borrowing from the library

I have an acquaintance who swears that a book worth reading is a book worth buying.  When he told me this, I pondered about it for a while, and then decided against it.  Many books I have started reading I did not like so I never finished.  Other books I enjoyed, but would not read again.  So the percentage of books that I ‘need’ to have on hand, at home, is not that high.  And of these, some are so popular that I’ll be able to find them in the library for years to come.  All and all, the number of books I want to own is pretty low.  Many people like to own books, have them in their house.  I don’t.  Here’s why.
1. For me, reading a book is an experience, just like visiting a museum or seeing a movie.  It’s unlikely I will do it again and again. 
2. Buying a book is expensive and I can read it for free if I borrow it.  Like a large pool – I can buy one or get a membership at a local one.
3. Books clutter my house; yes, they are nice and I do have all my favorites (including some that are out of print and would be too hard to find in a library); but extra books make it harder to clean, collect dust (I hate dusting) and I need to pack them and move them when I move (which I did quite a bit as a student).
4. The environment does better if fewer copies of paper books are printed and sold.  Readership is important, but libraries are good customers of authors.
5. If I buy a book, it’s often second-hand; much cheaper and because it’s been previously owned/loved/read, I’m actually helping the environment by promoting the second-hand goods market.
6. After reading a book that I own (purchased most likely used), if nobody in my family wants to read it and I’m not likely to read it again, I give it away or sell it.  This way, I send it back to make more happy readers while again encouraging the second-hand goods market.
7. When I use my public library, I’m sending a very strong message to my province to continue funding public libraries because it is a valuable service; this means that the more people use libraries, the better services are offered in libraries.  Public libraries are essential to many school children whose families cannot afford all the books they need or want to read.
For all these reasons, I read a lot but choose NOT to own many books.

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