Monday, September 26, 2016


I felt my blood pressure rise when I saw the news item on the MSN page yesterday…things people waste money on. The article keyed to a series of pictures and told the reader they could save so much money annually if they went the free route. Item #1…go with tap water instead of bottled water. I’m fine with that suggestion, as I know what those plastic bottles do to the environment. Item #2…don’t buy books.

I quickly clicked through the next pictures. It didn’t suggest people wasted money on going to the movies or baseball games or concerts or other forms of entertainment.

Really? Don’t buy books. It suggested, instead, going to the library where you can read them for free, or downloading free ebooks. Really? Don’t buy books?

Why ever would someone…a writer especially, as the author of the piece had to be a writer of some stripe…tell an audience not to buy books? What moron (I’m being overly polite) would offer such advice?

My mother bought me books when I was four years old, and she taught me how to read. I’d read the books again and again until they were memorized, and then I passed them along to other kids in the neighborhood…and she bought me replacement books.

As I grew up, I’d save my allowance and haunt the local bookstore. My friends spent their money on candy and pop magazines, Seventeen and such. I bought books. I discovered a used bookstore, which meant my babysitting money could go farther.

Today my house is filled with probably more books than I will be able to read before I die. Books make me feel good. Having books makes me feel good. And though I have enough books, I buy more every season as new releases by favorite authors come out. I buy ebooks, too, but I REALLY like the feel of a paper book in my hands.

And yet, I’m not a book hoarder. Once read, I pass the books along to someone else…unless it’s an Ed McBain or a Gene Wolfe book…or sometimes a Robert Crais (those are for rereading or studying passages). Then my friends can have more books too and I don’t wholly overwhelm my shelves.

Why ever would you tell someone not to buy books?

I wasn’t going to write another blog for a week or so, as I’d just put one up a few days past. But that MSN article royally pissed me off. It said people waste money by buying books. It didn’t say people waste money if they buy bad books, or books filled with so friggin’ many typos your stomach twists. And those free ebooks the article recommended…every free ebook I have downloaded has been filled with typos and was not well-written. I quickly deleted them from my Nook. And now I don’t bother glancing at a free ebook.

Don’t buy books?

If everyone stopped buying books, authors would be forced to stop writing them…especially the good authors. Writing is a profession, and writers should be paid. My husband asked me once why I don’t wait until a particular book comes out in paperback…or go to the library. (I do go to libraries, I love libraries, and I favor their reference sections. But I tend not to check out fiction books from libraries.) I’m a writer, and I want to give my fellow writers the royalty money from a book purchase. It’s investing in my profession, I believe. BUT that’s not the only reason I buy books.

I like to have them…so I can read them when the mood strikes. I usually have three or four books going at any given time, all different. A David Baldacci thriller is on the nightstand right now. A dark police procedural is on the porch. A SF novel is on the end table in the living room. Depends on my mood and where I am as to what book I pick up. And there’s a to-be-read stack. Oh, and I have a mystery next to the couch in the basement…so I can read while my glass fusing kiln is running.

When I packed up to move to Illinois, I stared at the sea of books in my basement. I’ve written a lot of books, and so I had BOXES of copies of my various titles. I don’t have so many anymore. I donated them to schools in Wisconsin. A lot of them went to an inner-city middle school. I got a couple of letters from the teachers there who said the kids were delighted. Coming from poor families, they didn’t have money to buy books for themselves. The teachers said for some of the kids, those books were the first they’d owned.

I think the MSN article should have said “don’t buy books only if you can’t afford them.” I would have been on board for that. But that wasn’t the article’s intent or bent.

Don’t buy books. REALLY?

I’m gonna go buy a book today.

Or maybe two.

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  1. Right on, Jean. I can't stop buying books. I, too, will never read them all in my lifetime, but I'd rather stop buying bread than books.

    1. AWESOME. Never stop buying books. That MSN article made me soooooooooooooo mad

    2. Well if no one buys books or all books are free then authors don't sell or make money, publishers don't make money = no more new books. Used and old only. Not a good scenario. Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter