Oh, Library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... It's certainly no News Flash that the library is awesome. It truly is. Aside from being a handy research aid for many school years, it's been a great event space for meeting authors, my source for browsing magazines for free (and not having newsstand owners yell at me for browsing, not buying), and of course, books, books, books. I didn't renew my love of the library until recently, over the holidays, when the Mister gifted me with a new Kindle Paperwhite, as well as a snazzy cover (it's bright orange, my favorite color). And thus began my e-reader OBSESSION...
I was a longtime analog reader -- paper books were my jam. I also hadn't bought a book in years; everything I'd read over the last half decade has been borrowed or given, so I didn't even need the library, I had a steady stream of reading material at all times. I fell behind on favorite fiction series, I had so many scribbled notes of books I wanted to read "someday..." Upon receiving the e-reader for Christmas, it was at first daunting -- will I like reading off a screen? Will I get eyestrain?? Will I feel pressured to catch up with many years of unread books??? I took the plunge with a copy of Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy, a nonfiction book detailing the daily life of people in North Korea. A longtime "I want to read that" book on my mental list, Brock immediately purchased it for me, and it was my first e-book experience. The book is as magnificent a read as I'd hoped, by the way -- HIGHLY recommend it. Much like heroin, this e-reader was immediately addictive and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to read off a screen. If anything, being able to enlarge the type slightly made for faster reading (at least for me) and I required MOAR KNOWLEDGE.
A faster reading pace means you want a ton of books queued up. But even at a cheaper price than printed books, it's still money spent on something you may not ever read again -- or like, for that matter. TO THE LIBRARY, ROBIN!
I had to updated my library card in-person, but beyond that, it's a misanthrope's dream being able to borrow books and other materials like a maniac, in the comfort of your own home, at any odd hour. I don't know how other systems work, but the King County Library System is a breeze. The checking out of e-books sends you out to Amazon to do the actual borrowing (if you have a Kindle), and you just click the "borrow this book" and designate which device you want it downloaded to, and within seconds, you've got a book on your reader. The e-books basically have a poisoned pill in the file, so you don't have to return the book, it will disappear off your reader in the 20-odd days of borrowing you're given, which is plenty of time. I've managed to get caught up on most of a longtime mystery/thriller series I've been reading since college (anyone else an Agent Pendergast fan?); tore through The Rook, a book highly recommended by a friend, and highly enjoyable. I have probably a dozen books saved on my KCLS wish list, so I can easily see what's available or what second choice book I can borrow while I wait for something else to become available. Even if you don't consider yourself an avid reader, you no doubt have a long list of "I've been meaning to read that" books, and it's ridiculously easy to start chipping away at that list with the ease (and free-ness) of the library.
Another big plus to taking advantage of the library is access to a lot of free magazines, and not just the print versions. KCLS uses Zinio to access its free titles -- not sure what other library systems use. It's a free account and it's easy to download the reader app on any full color device, like an iPad. I'm very pleased to say I went on a magazine binge, electronically "borrowing" a dozen popular and recent issues, like Martha Stewart Living (seen above), Vanity Fair, and pretty much all the major food/cooking magazines. I can happily browse issues of Lucky and Glamour -- magazines that I usually only bought when I was going on a plane; something I could mindlessly leaf through and not mind leaving behind.
While I still love print and the feel of paper, I'll save that fetish for art books and cookbooks. There's a liberating feeling of casually glancing through an electronic version of a magazine, where most of the content you're only moderately interested in, or once you read the article, you're done. There's no nagging desire to keep things, tear out recipes or ideas, so that you feel the purchase and the landfill/recycling will be worth it. It's just an electronic tap and it's gone. The same with books -- I rarely re-read anything, especially fun, pulpy novels. Everything doesn't have to be serious; along with a rekindled (ha, bad pun) love of the library, I'm falling back in love with silly, fun books that I can power through in a weekend. So, dust off that library card and get reading -- there's so much good stuff out there!
Jaunty Fine Print: Photos from the Feb 2015 issues of Martha Stewart Living