Friday, March 12, 2010

Toby Lichtig & the Intellectual Lent of Books

Thanks to obsessive online book-buying, I have inexpensive copies of out-of-print Latin books for my students.--Frisbee

Toby Licthig, a blogger for The Guardian, has written a hilarious piece on his addiction to book-buying.

"We all know how it is these days. The faultline between desire and action has faded to a smudge. I'm not even sure I still bother going to Amazon. It's as if some dastardly sales whizz has infiltrated my brain, hooking my dopaminergic neurones straight up to PayPal. I read about a book. Mmmm... interesting, I think. And two days later it's sitting by my bed."

Don't I have a personal relationship with the "dastardly" mind-reading book fairy? I don't drive, so Amazon and Abebooks are a greenish alternative to shopping trips, utilizing the mail and the odd plane full of books, instead of individual energy-wasting vehicles and trips to the mall.

So I tell myself.

Shopping online--the click-click-click of the transaction--creates the illusion that books are free. None of it involves the clink of money. When there is a credit-card transaction at Borders or Barnes & Noble, I hand the card to a person and there is a moment of anxiety. What if the machine rejects me? But online it's all purely plastic and imaginary. The book fairies are buying the books for me.

I'd like to join Toby Lichtig, Stuck in a Book, and the other bloggers who have vowed not to spend. But it can't be done. My tiny, tiny salary is spent mostly on books. Arrived in the mail yesterday: a Latin textbook for a student and an advance copy of Holly Black's White Cat. And, oh yeah, the publishers didn't single me out for free copies. I bought the books fair and square.

Because I'm, yes, crazy?

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