Ho-lee sheets, people. Shopping advice devoted to books, the only shopping advice I can get behind because I still wear t shirts from bands that have been broken up for over a decade. But sometimes… just sometimes…
An article came out recently entitled 13 Reasons You Should Always Buy Used Books and it is so full of dung. And not in the, “wrong advice” kind of full of dung because if the world were all perfect it would rock because reading. No, it gets it wrong because it just discounts the world of libraries all together. So, I clipped the reasons below and will go through them and tell you why you should just go to the library.
And for those of you who don’t know who you are and are already crafting that “why do you hate independent bookstores, dick punch, my mother-wife owns a bookstore” comments, I like and support local bookstores, I just think libraries are better.
“1. They're affordable.”
Dot. Dot. Dot. The library’s free.
“But,” you say, “What if the library doesn’t have what I want?”
Pick something else, you poor ass jerk. Learn a lesson that you don’t always get what you want.
Also, put a request on it. Only bastard librarians flat out refuse to find you a copy of the book you “have” to have.
“2. Browsing your favorite bookstore is the perfect Sunday afternoon pastime.”
I do not see how this pertains to used books, as this can be about a Barnes and Noble or a mom and pop shop, but somebody will complain about me being techinical so here you go: Make a list of the books you find while browsing and go get them at the library.
Or, you know, browse the library. My favorite moments are wandering through the library stacks, going to subject areas in Dewey and seeing what’s what.
“3. Plus, there's always a chance you could meet the love of your life in a bookstore.”
Okay, this is true for anywhere. You could get hit by the love of your life as he drives a Bang bus full of sex workers doing cocaine off a little person. That’s just life and it happens everywhere, including the library.
“4. Or at least seek out recommendations from the totally cute incredibly knowledgeable bookstore employees.”
Somebody in the damn library has a master’s degree in finding you shit. A wide margin of them are attractive, just don’t be creepy about it.
“5. Used bookstores need your help and support.”
So do real bookstores, which are supported by sales of new books that directly support publishers who make books. And so do libraries, which provide a ton more community services than trading in old copies of Dan Brown books.
“6. E-readers are great and all, but some books just have to be read the old fashioned way.”
No, they don’t. This is all preference. I don’t read Homer on a damn scroll or The Bible from a clay tablet. This is silly ignorance clinging to the last great technology.
“7. The 7th edition isn't really that different from the 8th edition.”
It is if it’s a medical text, jackass. Or a history book. Or science.
“Look here, Edna, it says to cure your headaches we need to solve your hysterics! Get in the bed and stop thinking about voting!”
“8. They have that old book smell.”
DO NOT SMELL USED BOOKS. YOU ARE SMELLING DEAD PEOPLE AND THEIR BATHROOMS.
Look, I’ll admit, the decaying matter of paper, glue and ink does have a place in my heart, but that was before I treated many a tome to pounds of anti-deodorant to get rid of cat urine. Books get around more than you think, so do not smell, lick, or really touch them too often.
This really is not a “use the library” as much as it is a “this is dumb.”
“9. You never know who owned them before you.”
YOU NEVER KNOW WHO OWNED THEM BEFORE YOU.
See #8. You do not know what that book has seen, and that stain is never as quaint as it seems.
“10. The margin notes can be entertaining.”
I will give you this. This one. As a serial writer in the margin, I have given books away and wondered who is reading them now and enjoyed reading other peoples. This is one thing you will almost never find in a library because people who change library books are assholes and are shot on sight out of a cannon.
“11. You won't feel AS awful for bending the spine…”
Yeah, it’s old, fuck it. The American way. Guess what, if you fund your library by keeping the numbers up and proving it deserves funding, you can trash most of the books and the library can replace it.
“12. Or losing the dust jacket, or staining it with your morning coffee.”
This is an extension of #11 and a bit of lazy writing on the original author’s point, if you ask me. Also, morning coffee? Who has coffee just in the morning? I don’t get you, other writer.
“13. You can pass it along to someone else.”
If you borrow from the library, simply by bringing it back in okay condition, you pass it along to your entire community. You participate in the communication of knowledge across the world and the language by using knowledge and allowing others to do the same. If you just buy books, hoard them and share them within your friend group, you keep the books out of the communities hands. Use the library and share from the library and change the damn world as a community of knowledge seekers and not a bunch of crazy ass hoarding, date hungry, book lickers.
But, if you have to buy your books, at least you are reading. I have to give you that.
Thanks for reading.