I admit it. My name’s Jo and I’m a bookaholic. I suppose my Latin name is a bibliophile. Hell I just love books. As a minimalist this can be a problem. Books take up space, you need storage to put them in or on and they cost money.
In recent years the beauty of digital means storage is not so much an issue although it doesn’t aid minimalist buying tendancies. Also it’s not the same as an actual physical book. I admit it , I sniff books. I like looking at the covers and then turning them over and reading the backs. I like feeling how far I am through a book and finding cool free postcards to use as my bookmark. Books are a massive part of my life and so this was an issue for me until I discovered something fairly radical a few years ago; my local library. Yes a place where you can take a book from free of charge, read it, take it back and its still free. This seems a fairly radical proposal in the modern world where everything costs money. You get to read it, you don’t have to own it and you don’t have pay for it. In our local library you can even rent out digital books both in e-book and audio book version. On top of this there’s a shocking discovery to be had. Libraries have cool stuff in them now, like nice cafés and archives and digital hubs and even gardens. Libraries are actually nice places to hang out these days.
So if there’s such an amazing resource available why don’t more people use them? It’s a mystery to me, an avid library user who visits more often than I go to a supermarket. Linked to http://www.goodreads.com I can reserve books online and pick them up at my nearest library. Is it because people don’t know about libraries? That they’re seen as stuffy institutions where you can’t talk that smell slightly of charity shops and old newspapers. Is it that books are so cheap now they’ve become throwaway? With significant discounts in supermarkets and online retailers books are cheaper to purchase than ever.
As a minimalist I have a recommendation for purchasing books. ALWAYS get books from the library first. If its a book you particularly want or a reference book and its something you can’t get you can easily get second hand books for a fraction of the price on EBay or Amazon. Occasionally a book makes such an impression on me that I will buy it to read again and again; try reading the Cellist of Sarajevo. Amazing book. Here I come across a conflict. As a financial minimalist and an eco champion its against my principles to buy brand new when I can get second hand but I also keenly feel the need to support writers. See its not easy being a minimalist at times?
So do you use libraries? How do you find yours? If not try getting down to yours and seeing if it surprises you…