If you’re a voracious reader like I am, the cost of books can quickly land you in the poorhouse. At a cost of around twenty-five dollars for a hard-cover edition and slightly less for a trade paperback, it adds up. Combine that with the challenge of storing that vast inventory of hard-copy books in your already-jam-packed home and you have a dual dilemma. The solution is as simple as something called a library card—and it’s free. Library cards have been part of my life since I was very young but in the years when I was working there was little time to read for fun, much less actually get to the library.
After giving away several Rubbermaid bins of books (some of which I’d never read or only half-read) I decided to take advantage of technology and join the twenty-first century. When I retired, circumstances and technology combined to provide me with the means to read as much as I liked, which is considerable. At first I purchased books on-line or at the store, or borrowed from friends. Then, public libraries figured out how to offer books and magazines on-line and that’s when I hit the jackpot. If I don’t have at least one book on the go, I’m like a junkie in need of a fix. Having gone through various types of digital reading devices ( see To “e” or not to “e” . . . that is the question) I currently rely on three—my old basic Kindle, my inexpensive little Kobo and my iPad.
Book publishing is a complex and evolving business. I still have a problem paying $14.99 to purchase a digital copy of a book but at the same time I want the authors to be appropriately compensated for their work. Public libraries are struggling with their own issues around publishing rights. Until recently I didn’t realize they pay upwards of one hundred and fifty dollars for just one digital copy of a book. At several times the cost of a hard copy, this is a financial hardship for the publicly funded libraries and is a point of contention between publishers and public libraries. While online book sales offer greater opportunities for exposure to books, authors are making less than ever and very few can actually make a living writing books. But that’s an issue the publishers, authors, and vendors will have to sort out.
Borrowing e-books works just like the regular kind. You can search online by title, author, genre or topic, and if it’s available then download it or read it through your browser. If it’s out on loan already, you can add your name to the waiting list and when it becomes available you receive an e-mail advising it’s ready to download, then, bingo, five seconds later it’s on your reading device. And I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my LaZGirl. Love my iPad mini. What could be better!
Whatever medium I have in my hand, whether digital or hard-copy, I’m never happier than when I’m engrossed in a good book, traveling in my mind to different countries, different centuries and experiencing a variety of adventures through the eyes of fascinating characters. And, I suspect the chief book-picker at the library reads the weekly Globe and Mail book and New York Times reviews because whenever I see something reviewed that I want to read, within days it’s available on-line through my local library. If you’re not already a member of your local library and you love to read, get your fanny moving and sign up for a library card. It’s free and will be the best investment you’ll never make.