One of the many reasons books and I are entering couples counseling.
I have a troubled relationship with books, and when I describe it, it sounds like a should see a couples’ counselor. I’d like to spend more time with them, but I have myriad excuses, mostly relating to feeling distracted or too busy. Or I say I’d like to get together when I can spend some quality time together. Which is a cheap out, because I can speed read (I can comfortably read 950wpm according to spreeder.com, try it yourself). The fact is that as much as I love the tactile feeling of kicking back with a good book – the feel, the smell – it also started seeming intuitively wrong a number of years ago. I worked at a now-defunct book store when eBooks were first being discussed as a possibility, and they intrigued me. My bibliophilic coworkers would sneer at me, tsk-tsking me for questioning the sacred nature of a physical book, which was a little ironic: the store sold remainders and reprints. For the record, the publishing industry is not particularly green; only 5% of the paper used in books is recycled, around 35% of books printed are never read, and instead are returned to the publisher and end up in landfills, and around 70% of the world’s paper supply comes from natural forests, rather than tree farms. So what’s an eco-minded book lover to do? The fact is that although eBook readers ultimately are greener than printed books (although there’s a fair amount of debate on the topic), they still, frankly, kind of suck. Compare these reviews and prices. The most popular reader – Amazon’s Kindle – gives off a decidedly “Etch-A-Sketch” vibe, and the devices that have cooler features or more aesthetically appealing designs have crappy battery life or some other limitation. And all of them are over $250.00, for a device that essentially only reads books. As I mentioned a while back in Bound For Extinction: Books, there are other options like books-on-demand services. In fact, for a slightly recursive, M.C. Escherian experience, you can buy How To Self-Publish For Free With Createspace.com: An Easy Get Started Guide, which is published by on-demand publisher CreateSpace, sold on Amazon.com as both an eBook and a printed book, and teaches you how to use the two to publish a book. And no, I haven’t read it. Although I might soon if this new Asus reader is all it’s cracked up to be. Which it’s bound not to. One last thought: if you care about the impact of your books on the environment, there are lots of resources like EcolLibris out there that focus on ideas for more sustainable publishing.