Yesterday evening I drove home from the train station, parked in the garage, walked up to the top of the driveway to wheel the garbage cans down to their customary spot beside the house, walked back up the driveway again to grab the last few days’ worth of mail from the mailbox, and finally went inside. My in-laws were in town, helping to watch their grandkids while my wife kept some important appointments on her day off, and at one point the conversation rolled around to e-readers and how much use my mother-in-law has gotten out of hers, which makes the somewhat slight use I’ve made of mine seem all the more pitiful. Extra-specially so, because one of the things I had brought in from the mailbox moments before was a hardcover copy of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger which I ordered specifically for my re-read of the Dark Tower series and because at the end of said re-read I would like to have a full set of all seven (soon to be eight) books in hardback on my Stephen King bookshelf (which technically is two shelves on a bookcase in my dorkitorium because, as is well known, dude writes a lot of books).
And that’s my biggest mental block against the e-reader phenomenon, really: I’m a collector through and through (as I alluded to yesterday talking about my son’s similar burgeoning tendencies) and when you download and read something on a Kindle it doesn’t get to become part of any of the physical displays of which I am so foolishly fond. That’s proving really tough for me to get over. Given a choice between a $9.99 e-book that I can download and start reading immediately, or a $10 (plus shipping!) used hardcover that has to be dropped off by a truck after a few days BUT which can then stand amongst the other spines in my personal library forever, I’m generally drawn towards the latter.
One of my college buddies is about as big a Stephen King fan as I am, including the Dark Tower series, although he doesn’t feel compelled to reacquaint himself line by line in advance of the eighth volume’s release like I do. He’s a voracious reader in general, and he asked me earlier this week if I had read The Hunger Games yet. Which I haven’t, though I want to, and as I told him it’s kind of starting to drive me crazy because I read so many entertainment websites on a regular basis and they are all about the Hunger Games coverage, and of course unafraid to plunge into spoiler-ish territory in discussing the film adaptations of the books. Few things increase my sense of urgency for consuming an entertainment like it becoming a much-hyped multi-media property.
So today just out of curiosity I looked to see how much it would be to download The Hunger Games to my Kindle, because although I know some very attractive box sets of the dead-tree books are available in retail outlets, I feel like that’s one I could deny permanent shelfspace for. They’re YA books, after all. Granted, so is Harry Potter and I think having those seven volumes on a shelf is cool, but the last few years at Hogwarts are great big toe-breaker tomes, while all three Hunger Games novels are kind of slight. Or maybe the distinction between the two is negligible and arbitrary but dangit it’s my personal library. The point being reading the Hunger Games as e-books wouldn’t feel like a massive missed opportunity … especially once I discovered that my Amazon Prime membership means I can get those e-books for free. Which is always appreciated! So of course I marked them for download immediately and the next time my Kindle goes online I will have them, which is fairly rad.
So above and beyond the serendipity of various conversations echoing each other, maybe the real takeaway here is that I should be a little more aware of books I want to incorporate into my permanent physical surroundings for whatever reasons, and books I just want to read (meaning books I would be just as happy to e-read) and how there’s room for both which would allow me to make use of the new toys I have and also maintain the collection-based hobbies I’ve long enjoyed.
And if I can manage that, then maybe there’s hope yet for me to cull my comics collection at some point.