Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why to stop buying books

Space Space Space...books occupy space. and with the increase in population and decrease in size of homes, space is becoming precious and books, if hoarded, simply take over precious space. If you can get a e-book reader like Kobe or Kindle or download books on your computer, you would save lots of space, cost of bookshelves, time and effort spent in dusting the books, save on the trouble of keeping them safe from silverfish, dampness and borrowers who don't return.

People move a few times over their life and moving books one has hoarded becomes a problem. Especially if one is moving long distance or into a smaller space with less space for book storage.

One of the most important reasons for not buying books is that books become outdated. Textbooks, encyclopaedias, dictionaries all become outdated so fast these days due to the constant influx of new information due to new research, findings and discoveries. Books cost a lot of money and once you buy a book, believe me, it's value has depleted by more than half. If you can get the information online or from a library, do that.

One of the main reasons we bought books in the past was for INFORMATION; For example, most middle class houses in the 70s in Bangalore had a dictionary, an atlas and some rich people had encyclopaedias. Now the  information these books gave us is available on the internet and also it's  constantly updated information. Hence these sort of 'information books' have become redundant. Whatever information, one wants, one can get it on the internet. I do know that in-depth information is not available on the internet for free but a lot of information is available.

Some of us buy books we love as we believe we will read them over and over again or we simply want to possess it as we love those books. I have bought a few books for these reasons. But I have discovered that I am constantly reading new books and though I have the books I love, I hardly seem to have time to reread them. Today, there is also the constant demands on my time by the new TV shows. Between TV shows, books, work, home upkeep & travel I have zero time for rereading old books. They are simply sitting in my basement and now I have to dry them out as my basement got flooded!

Saving/buying books for the next generation or for someone 'else' I realized is a no-no. My sister bought the books she loved in her childhood for her kids but they prefer the books of today! She bought them Enid Blyton but they like the Harry Potter and Diary of a wimpy kid series and the Blyton books she paid a fortune for, are simply gathering dut in her home, unread! If you buy books(or anything) buy for yourself; don't buy for others because you love them and you expect they will love it too.(I find giving cash as a gift is the best as the recipient gets the freedom to get what he/she likes).
 I have seen one insane parent spending a fortune he does not have (he takes loans) to buy Kannada  books  for his grandchildren who read only English! He wants them to read Kannada but they are not interested and he does not back down! Similarly I have seen parents buy books (or items they love) for their kids and try compelling the kids to read/use them ! We want our kids to enjoy what we did and we simply don't accept that tastes have changed, times have changed and even if it's a classic, it is not the same...experiencing a book today is a different experience from reading the same book 30 years ago. Only a few novels are timeless; most novels are enjoyable in a certain time and context; times and contexts change and the books do not have the same effect years later on a different set of readers. Here is an example: I loved the novel 'Painter of signs' by R.K.Narayan when I read it maybe 35 years ago when it was published in the Illustrated weekly of India(serial form). I bought the novel recently to reread and I found the main character so lame and annoying! The book has not changed but I have changed so much! My values have changed and now, I simply cant stand the painter i.e. the chief character in the book!

I believe people buy books, though they don't need, for reasons such as their inability to change; they were buying books before the internet, Kobe & Kindle came and they are unable to adapt to these new entries into the world. People may also buy to help authors  and the book industry but  people with this particular motive for buying are few in number. People may also be buying books as they get a sense of security but that is a sheer waste of money! ( I have seen a friend buy books, 'to read when she retires'. She has access to reading these books free of cost from the Toronto public library but she's buying books regardless.(she's also not well placed financially)

So, I believe, people buying books in today's world should examine why they are buying books...Buying books (or DVDs, CDs, etc) may be due to a psychological problem and the problem should be fixed; buying books is not going to fix the problem!

There are many places where the libraries are not good and the only option is for people to buy books. In countries like India for example. So I suppose buying books in such places is okay. (India has the internet and e-readers but people prefer to buy the books second hand which is cheaper than pay in dollars to download into their e-readers...I think). Many books in Indian languages are not available online and so one has to buy those books I suppose.

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