“[E]ven while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books–astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.”
The idea of anyone selling more e-books than paper copies always seemed so Buck Rogers to me. I have trouble believing that that time has arrived already. Besides, I still have a lot of hard work to do to prepare for it.
Along with my promotion [Did I mention I’m a full professor now?], I got a new office. That office has a lot more bookshelf space in it, so I’ve been bringing in more history books from home and even getting rid of a few non-history books to make more space for my wife. [History professors are, by definition, bookshelf hogs. I strongly suspect all our spouses must live with that fact every day.]
My criteria for what to donate to our local public library’s used book store is really quite simple: Is there any chance that I’m I ever going to read that again? If the answer is a clear “no,” away it goes, as it no longer serves a function for me. Despite the fact that every single history book I own is staying, I still think this is progress over my own materialism. Unless you have some kind of emotional bond with the book (as evidenced by stuff like marginalia or maybe a stain from when you were reading it over lunch), what good does it do you sitting on a shelf? History books are always possible references for me, but most of the novels I read just end up collecting dust. I love Bookshelf Porn as much as the next guy, but from now on mine will almost all be filled with non-fiction.
Which brings me back to the Kindle…I always thought that we Americans were the most acquisitive people on Earth – that we like lining up material objects in their houses whether they serve any purpose or not. The notion that we’ve taken to e-books this fast almost gives me help about the future of materialism. After all, how many books can a Kindle hold anyways? At some point, most of the are going to have to disappear. Besides, how can you show off what you’ve read if all you read are e-books? Do you hand someone your Kindle and tell them to start browsing?
Maybe I’m going to have to join Library Thing after all.
PS In case you’re wondering, I still don’t own an e-reader. They have way too many problems at this point for me to hop on that bandwagon now. Nevertheless, I’m sure I will buy one someday, but just use it for novels.