Saturday, February 21, 2009

The opportunity cost of cheap books

I was down at the thrift store yesterday when I saw two Dan Simmons books. Simmons writes well across a number of genres including horror, science fiction and hardboiled crime. So I like to grab his books when I can. I saw Ilium, which despite some warnings from others, I wanted to try and I saw a Winter Haunting. Now, I have read a Winter Haunting and liked it. When talking about it with a friend, he remarked that it was a sequel to A Summer of Night, which I read quite a while ago. Which meant I missed something the first time around. So I am probably going to go get A Summer of Night as well.

The problem is, these books are now going to take a space in line currently occupied by the seven or so unread books I received for Christmas, the 15 books I have checked out of the library and the dozens of unread books that lie waiting on my shelves. So we have the problem that these books are less likely to be read. It is in some ways even worse though. The time I spend browsing for new books could be spent reading the books I already have! I probably spend an hour or two a week looking for books. That's a half a crime novel, easy.

On the bright side, I like looking for new books. It's fun and and there is some truth in the saying it's not the kill it's the thrill of the chase. When you have a lot of books you have more from which to choose your next book and you have more books to loan to friends. Then they can tell you whether the book is worth reading or not.

Even more I like looking at a book case full of books I haven't read. Sure, a book case full of books you have read is all well and good, but even better is a wall full of possibilities. Looking at all I might read is so much better than looking at what I have already done. So I think I will go on buying.


Anonymous said...

So how did you get inside my head? Laughing. Just discovered blog catalog. Other people as nuts as I am about books and reading. I'm enjoying reading your stuff. I work at a thrift store and have first shot at the donated books. Imagine a netflicks queue, you have your favorites lined up, priorities all in order, then this perfect book is beckoning to you, wait, is that another perfect book winking at you from a box stacked under four incredibly heavy other boxes. Must move boxes to see, make the mistake of opening first box, oh my God another perfect book, forgets perfect books 1 and 2. Starts reading. Manager clears her throat, uh Mary, didn't I ask you to put those boxes over to the side until the carts have been put out? Putting out the merchandise onto the salesfloor shelves I find the perfect book and ignoring the customers, I hunch over it and scurry away with my find.

Tripp said...

Thanks, glad you like it!

I can't imagine the temptation of uncovering so many treasures. It might drive me crazy. One of the used bookstores out here has a library system where employees can check out used books and return them later. Sounds good to me.