Friday, March 10, 2006

The Don't Care About New Books Blues

For the past few years I've been buying just-published hardbacks at too fast a clip. If I don't get one read before it comes out in trade or I spot the hardback in the used bookstore I feel guilty: couldn't that money have been put to better use? I grew tired of walking past the countless unread volumes with my eyes averted and resolved to change my ways.

Okay, so I've made that resolution several times before and have gotten nowhere with it. My strategy this year has been to limit all new hardbacks to ones I can get with reward certificates from credit card companies (and from payback from people purchasing from links on this site: thank you). It's impossible to feel guilty over a free book; it can sit unread on the shelf until hell freezes over because free trumps even the fifty-cent cart at the library every time.

There haven't been many new books slated for publication this year that I've been beside myself to obtain the moment they become available, the opposite of the last few when everything sounded as if it ought to be acquired immediately. Reading a library copy seems quite good enough—if I love it enough to want my own copy I should be able to pick up a used copy in a year or so. So far One Good Horse is the only new hardback I've purchased via gift certificate; no reason to expect any of the libraries around here to get it when Groneberg's first memoir was never ordered either. I waited patiently all of last year on Canadian Feed My Dear Dogs; I still don't understand the delay in the American publication for this one, but I broke down in January and secured a UK copy via Mr. and Mrs. Book World's combined efforts. I'll order Peter Rushforth's A Dead Language from the UK next month, and I know I'll want the new David Mitchell and Anne Tyler in hardback later this spring, but otherwise the little voice that says "but you won't have time to read it now even if you do get it" is in the drivers seat and the rest of the passengers aren't chorusing "yeah, but you know you want it in hardback, hardbacks are so pretty" the way they normally do.

I used two reward certificates this week—I ordered cds and a history study guide for S. Unless I snap out of it I'm afraid I'll be using the certificates to buy cutlery and crystal before the summer's out.

Am I truly demonstrating impulse control here or are there simply fewer new books to be over the moon about these days? I'm exhibiting the usual amount of greed at the used bookstore but I'm still toying with the notion that I've somehow transmogrified into a totally different person.

I don't want to be someone who doesn't support living authors.

Who are you excited about this year? Should I be as well?

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