Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bookstore Bittersweetness

For an enthusiastic reader such as myself, walking into a library or bookstore is like stepping into a whole new world full of beauty and promise. All those shelves and shelves of books, pleading with me to explore more worlds and befriend more characters. And the anticipation of walking back out with at least one new glorious find!

Unless it's a bookstore, that is. If it's a bookstore, you can knock the anticipation part off the list and chuck it out the window. Because when you're a cheapskate like me, you rarely carry money with you in public. It's just not something you find necessary. And even if you do happen to have some, it's not like you're going to buy anything with it.

Thankfully, because of libraries, thrifty bibliophiles like me have nothing to worry about. As long as I have my library card, I can pile up as many books as I want and take them home without spending a dime. It's something we should enjoy to its fullest extent. I mean, what if there were no libraries, and pretty much the only way to get a book was to buy it? If that was the case, I would either be broke right now or wouldn't be in half as many book fandoms. Both sound appalling.

The thing is, holding a library book and holding one of my own are two very different things. Just ask any mother about the distinction between holding her own baby and holding another's. While library books are wonderful (unless they've been plagued by water damage or have dried snot between the pages), you don't get to keep them. Actual possession is what bookstores are for.

Ah, bookstores. In a way, they are better than libraries. For one thing, while the vast majority of library books are hardcovers, the vast majority of bookstore books are paperbacks - in my opinion, paperbacks are better. Also, the covers of bookstore books tend to have a special smoothness to them, their pages aren't even the slightest bit yellow, and I have yet to come across water damage or dried snot. Overall, they're nicer than library books.

If you have ever seen me in a bookstore, I'm the one who isn't ashamed to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the shelf. It's always hard seeing a book that I have read before and loved, or have heard great things about and know I'll love. Those are the books I desperately want to buy. But then again...

I'm sitting in the bookstore holding the first book in the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans. I stare at the amazing cover. I read the amazing first chapter. I listen to my friend beside me gushing about the amazing characters. The problem is, thirty dollars are burning a hole in my pocket.

Should I really spend my money on this? Is it worth it?

I argue with myself for five minutes, and after doing a quick cost-benefit analysis, finally snap the book closed and put it back on the shelf. The library has Michael Vey.

This is a constant struggle for me. A "cheapskate" is someone who hates spending money. A "bibliomaniac" is someone who loves owning books. They seem to contradict one another, but you can call me either one. If only there was a way to satisfy both of them all the time. 

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