This was a question I asked myself this morning. The last book I read I got out of a Free Little Library and the current book I am reading from the library. That is what prompted my questioning of why I own books. I prefer physical books. There is something about seeing your progress through the book, the feel of the pages, and the smell of the book that makes reading a physical book that much more enjoyable.
Physical book doesn’t mean ownership though, and is it really worth it to spend hundreds of dollars a year when libraries exist. Put aside my love of physical books and then we can start talking about the library’s vast collection of e-books, Amazon’s Prime reading, and other avenues to obtain free e-books and the idea of ownership feels even weirder.
What is the point of filling my bookshelves with book after book? I don’t often re-read books so that isn’t the answer. I can easily share a book I read for free and loved with my children by checking it out again at a library. The only reason to read and collect books is because I enjoy having the physical book displayed on my bookshelf to prove I have read it.
That has changed a bit too. Goodreads now acts as a digital bookshelf and can store and show all the books I have read and recorded in the app. And what should I care if someone decides not to trust my record in Goodreads. It is likely that that person would doubt the bookshelf as well.
There is something about it that stops me. There is something I like about having the books and knowing that they are mine. It is a bit like card collecting. I am trying to get a matching and complete set of multiple series at the moment, and there are some books a library simply won’t have or they won’t have all the books in certain series.
Ownership of physical things seems strange in the modern world. I own no music but have an entire catalogue of music at my disposal because of subscriptions. Movies, it is much the same. The e-book data base of libraries is vast and it is very likely I could fill many years with the books I’d find the read on there.
Book ownership is a sort of vanity and a thing I do purely because it makes me feel good, but if push came to shove and money really needed to be cut from the budget I could, if I absolutely had to, give it up.