I must confess: Ken Kalfus’ New Yorker article, “A Book Buyer’s Lament,” recently reminded me that when it comes to buying books, my immortal soul may be in peril. You see, I want as many books as I can get, as fast as I can get them. These desires aren’t sinful in themselves. The sin occurs when I act on them. I am an Amazon shopper.
I love Amazon. When I lived in rural Washington, I had access to none of the bookish things which I had previously enjoyed. I had no awesome independent bookstores. I didn’t even have a fully-stocked chain bookstore. The local college Barnes and Noble couldn’t even manage to get all the new releases out on Tuesdays. For my books, and for many other things, I turned to Amazon. Let me tell you, dear readers, the road to hell is made all the more slippery by the ease of 1-click ordering and the delight of free two-day shipping.
It never felt right. I believe in, and, more than that, I love independent bookstores. I crave the browse and the bag that breaks with too many books.
But: books! Fast! Cheap!
Amazon is not my only sin. I own an e-reader that made five-and-a-half years of criss-crossing the country to visit my family so much easier. (Books are heavy, y’all!). I buy used books, too, depriving authors of the royalties they might have made had I purchased the book new.
I believe in paper. I believe in authors.
How about this: as penance I’ll make a real effort to read one of the unread books on my shelves and I’ll read a month’s worth of bedtime stories to my cats.