Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My sad career as a library user, my book addiction, and some questions

Sad career
I am a library abuser, and I SO don’t want to be. I love the concept of a library, and I love checking books out. The problem is, I don’t get around to returning them. It is like a mental problem! So they sit until they are so overdue that I’m embarrassed to return them. I’m talking years here, folks. There have been times where I have lived two blocks from a library and this has happened. Then finally, usually under cover of night, I skulk over and slip them into the slot.

Like any abuse cycle, it soon resumes. I pay my fine and apply for a fresh new library card, hoping the nice people behind the desk don’t have too much data about my evil history in their computers. I’m always shocked when they actually give the card to me, and allow me to check more books out. Are they insane? However, I vow to myself it will be different this time! I check out my first books, excited by the smell. I take them home. I read them. They sit. The self-loathing begins again.

I sort of want to return to the library, but I don’t feel I have a right. Plus, we may move to another city. Maybe then I will. A place where they don’t know me!

My addiction & questions
Anyway, these days, I really love getting books through the mail, new. It’s like my one vice. I love opening the box—there they are, my choices! And I put them next to my bed, all perfect and straight-edged as library books and used bookstore books can never be. When they’re mine, I can read them in the bath. Also, buying new supports authors.

But then, you get into the whole thing about trees and paper. This thought really does plague me. I have a friend who sold a book and somehow got it printed on recycled paper or something by taking less of an advance--I can't quite remember how it all worked.  I long to be published, but I don't want to destroy the homes of woodland animals. I’ve heard Harry Potter destroys entire forests.  

Yes, there are ebooks, but I’m not ready to jump there. I am with a computer so much for my job, and I have a great love for reading in the bath, so 75% of my books get wet. Another question for readers: what happens when everybody uses e-readers and libraries develop really robust e-book catalogs, and you can download them through the web? Who would ever buy a new book then? The product would be identical.

If my books don’t get all wet, I will sometimes sell them to used bookstores. That sort of recycles them, and I’ll also buy books at used bookstores, but then the money doesn’t go to the author. Hey English people - does England still do that thing where it’s illegal to resell books?

16 comments:

RachaelfromNJ said...

Hey Carolyn!
I have two books from the library that are about 8 yrs past due. I know where they are and all but I refuse to pay $30 per book in late fees when I just want to return the books! The books cost $6.99 each. There's 3 of them. I have the books. BUT they still want, I beleive $30 each in late fees. That's ridiculous huh? So I've been using my fiance's card for a while now instead.

By the way, I sent out your package on Monday and got it back yesterday!! I tried to send it Media Mail and they must have scanned it or something because they said it doesn't qualify for Media Mail. So I need to resend it, hopefully this week I will be able to get to the post office again. I'm just so bummed that they returned it to me after I had found time to mail it and everything! SO just wanted to let you know. IT's coming soon..just need to remail it! :)

RachaelfromNJ said...

oops I said I had two books then I said three. That sounds weird. LOL I meant to say there's three late library books. LOL

Katie(babs) said...

I noticed more books are being sold as ebooks rather than being mailed. As a reviewer I do like getting books in the mail but it is so nice to have it write there in your handy email inbox.
As for the library, I love libraries. I should have a cot in the library and a shelf named after me.
As for having late books, I am pretty good on that end, perhaps a quarter or so in late fees.

Wendy said...

I don't like ebooks. I like taking my books out with me and I don't have a handy PDA or something to use as a book reader, even if I did, I doubt I would do that anyway.

I have a library card but I barely use it. I'm thinking of possibly hitting the library this weekend because there's SO many books I want to read but I'm kinda broke right now so I can't buy them. :(

Brie said...

Hi Carolyn,

I can proudly say that I am a prompt library book returner. I wasn't always, but I am now.

And no, I'm not ready for the ebook revolution. I've dug my heels in and will not relent. I love the way a brand new book smells too much to give it up for a computer screen.

I do feel bad about the amount of trees that get chopped down in the name of good (and horrendous)literature though. But not bad enough to quit buying books. That sounds really horrible! Sorry trees.

Carolyn Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Jean said...

Rachael, Oh, do I ever feel your pain on those $30 late fees. I have thought about using my husband's card, but I think I would besmirch his name. Also, well, I am so excited still for your package. Take your time, as you know, I am SO grateful...and curious! It is so cool of you. And thoughtful. I can't believe the post office!

KB: I really admire you, with your potential cot in the library, and your shelf and your good library use. That is what libraries are for, and obviously you love books. And you get that good smell! Also, that is really interesting that more ebooks are sold. I wouldn't have expected that.

W: I'm always sort of glad when others don't like ebooks, because I sort of think I should. I mean, I read them on my husband's laptop, in front of the fire, but I have a very limited range there, and I read them slowly. Hopefully after you go to the library this weekend you will give a report of what you took out. I will be vicariously excited.

B: Yeah, I'm with you, sister on the ebooks. But you and KB: good library users. I aspire to you, and again, maybe when I move. A new leaf!!! And right, isn't the smell sort of wonderful???

Kara said...

I am an avid library user and *ducking* an e-book reader. Our library lets you check out e-books, but after three weeks you cannot access them anymore (so I don't have any overdue books).

I usually return my books to the library ontime because I always have a book on order that has come in. Although some of the more recent books are really hard to get.

I still love the smell and receiving new books in the mail, but with the limited space that I have, ebooks work for me.

Carolyn Jean said...

Oh, please don't think I'm against ebooks. I actually think it would be a better world if everybody read them. I want myself to want them.

Wendy said...

Carolyn, I just posted the list of books. :)

LesleyW said...

Our library has online renewal, which I am very grateful for. :) You can renew your books three times online without having to go into the library. Of course it doesn't help if you keep them past the third time.

lisabea said...

As you can well imagine, I suck at returning books. And, because I live in a small town, the librarians know me. Well. We,er, drive a carpool together.

My mom returns my books. Isn't that shameful?

Sarai said...

Okay you know my dark secrets. I too love receiving books in the mail it is a secret pleasure that I have to hide from DH.
The library no longer likes me b/c of my overdue fees so I was cut to 3 books a time (not fair and I would fight the ruling if I hadn't just found a book under my bed from a couple of years ago)
As far as ebooks I tried it I even requested a reader and then returned it. There is something about holding the books in my hand, smelling the paper and oh the feel of it. Plus the oh shit factor when you drop it in the tub. This way it is only a 6.99 book that is ruined not a $400 reader.

Tumperkin said...

I am now finally reading ebooks but I read 'em on my laptop and it's not a pleasure for me. I s'pose I'm an old-fashioned girl - I just prefer a nice print book - and like you, love taking them in the bath! Perhaps it's cos I spend my entire day in front of a laptop....

As for question, CJ, so far as I'm aware, it's never been illegal to resell books in the UK - think you got that one wrong...

Carolyn Jean said...

Okay, I feel stupid. I looked at my Engish copy of Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday, one of my all-time favorites, and the book that gave me this wacky idea, and I see it says the book "shall not be lent, re-sold or hired out..etc etc in any form of binding other than that in which it is published." A bloody sloppy reader, I am! I swear, ALL this time I thought it was illegal to sell used books in the UK. Thanks, Tumperkin.

LesleyW said...

Carolyn Jean - I think that might mean if you copied it and then sold the copy. Which would be a binding other than which it was sold in.

Checking the front of my Lindsey Davis Falco novels, LOL so many of my books are US published. I can tell you that statement is still in the front of books.

But selling used books is okay.