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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Giving Back: The Print Book Way


(Route 2, Hoosick)

I'm a bibliophile.  I like print books, especially hardcover print books.  I'm not anti-electronic books but so far I've not acquired a Kindle or Nook e-book reader.  I do own an iPad and used it to read one electronic book in the past year.  This was a book I wanted instantly. Not in one day or two days.  I wanted it instantly and that's what you can do by downloading an e-book online.  E-books make all the sense in the world for reference, technical, how-to and academic books.  At the RPI library, where I am the Director, we have a policy of buying e-books whenever available over print books.  Bear in mind though, that most technical books aren't read from cover to cover so the e-book format works better in this kind of library. There are, of course, other advantages to e-books: the ability to increase fonts; the ability (subscription/contract permitting) for more than one reader to access concurrently; the ability to tap on a word to see its dictionary entry; audio transcription for the blind, etc.  Yet, for me, for novels, biographies, history, etc. the print book is still my format of choice.

When I retire, I'll buy one so I can travel light but I doubt I'll ever be a real convert to electronic books.  I like the permanency, feel and "experience" of a print book.  I like that an author can add an inscription to the title page.  I like that you can pass print books on to a fellow reader.  According to a recent Pew report, I'm not alone.  Seventy percent of Americans reported reading a print book in the past year.  Only only 4 percent read e-books exclusively.

And so we come to the "giving back" part.  Most people take books out of their local public library.  For those of you with the means, I'm suggesting a "180" for occasional future library transactions.  For several years, I've been cleaning out my book collection -- all but those three or four authors who I collect first/signed editions of -- and giving them to my local public library, the Grafton Community Library.  I've read them and don't feel the need for them to just hang around and take up space.  I suspect that most of these have found their way to the basement used book sales.  That's fine by me.  However, I'm trying out a twist on that going forward.  When there's a recent book I want to read, that probably hasn't been acquired by the library yet, I'm going to buy it (preferably hardcover edition) from Amazon.com.  Once I've read it, it will go to my local public library.  If it is a newly published book, I suspect it will make it to the shelves for circulation.  If it's recent, but they have a copy already, they still might add it to the shelves given adequate demand.  Otherwise, it'll no doubt make it to the basement for the next used book sale.  That's a librarian's prerogative.  Either way, I know it will make it to at least one more reader and its my way of giving back for the many books I've borrowed from libraries.

I just finished a hardcover print version of John Grisham's latest novel, Sycamore Row (terrific read!).  It's headed to the Grafton Community Library, along with David McCullough's Pulitzer prize winning John Adams that I read over the Holidays and that a friend had been kind of enough to pass along as a one-way ride to me.


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