In a life-long friendship, sometimes you know things about the other person they don't know themselves. I always knew that Justine was an incredible writer and now with this blog and hopefully all your lovely comments she will know it too. So I am going to shut up now so you can read her and not me. If you want to follow her book reviews then follow her on twitter @Justinend .
I was reading novels at a young age. I would read a Trixie Belden novel in the run of a day. I love the smell of books, the feel of books, and knowing that what you hold in your hand is another time, place, life, and experience and all you need to do is sit somewhere, open up the cover and start....and your journey begins at the hands of someone whom you have never met. You get taken on a ride by their genius. Someone....a great person...had the unbelievable talent to put to words, thoughts, visions and a story.
When I was young I would fantasize about creating my own "story” and dream of my name in print on the cover of a book...well wasn't that what all teenage dreams were made of? I pursued the dream with all the ambition of youth but the idea was more alluring than the effort involved. It never came to be.
Out of high school I got my dream job, I was in my glory! I was working part time at a book store. The smell of a book store was and still is a heady perfume, and I was getting paid to sift my way through all the hundreds of glorious tomes. My pay checks would dwindle as I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from picking up everything that interested me. My shelves began to buckle under the weight of my compulsion. I kept those books with me for many many years. I would re-read stories that I loved, multiple times. The pull of those characters were just too much to resist. But over time, life began to supress my wanton obsession with the written word. Making a living sometimes didn’t allow for the extravagance of book purchases. And yes, I’m a purchaser. I love to own that which I love. Own, rarely loan and gaze at lovingly when and if I chose. Even that changed with the impending birth of my son. We needed more space in a small house, and I hate to admit it, but my books bore the brunt of the downsizing. It was extremely difficult to part with them. They were like old friends, ones that I got to visit whenever I wanted. Some had cracked and dried glue for spines, pages that were yellowing with age, but I didn’t care. I loved them anyway.
As time passed I began to read less and less. I was disappointed in myself for that. But I really just didn’t have the money, or it was earmarked for more pressing purchases. The trappings of maturity mandate one learn to prioritize. I suppose at this point I could have yielded and visited the local library, but admittedly my cootie phobia prevented me from succumbing. Then the e-reader was born (insert angelic voices here). The idea captivated me, but somehow I felt as though my interest in e-readers was disloyal to my first love of books ( I swear though, they should make a book store smell scratch and sniff and put it on the inside cover of all e-reader cases, because that must be at least 75% of any resistance).
I thought the idea was ingenious, convenient, environmentally aware and oh so economically wise. Well, that is what ultimately swayed me! I could get my books for cheaper. Yes cheaper, and they wouldn’t take up any space, and I could read them again whenever and wherever I wanted. It seemed ideal. What an incredible concept!
Eventually my husband attempted to surprise me with one for Christmas but I found out. I secretly downloaded some books, and would quietly sneak away to read on it. It was such a sublime relationship in the beginning...I actually found that I could gobble up books so much faster when reading on my e-reader. Faster does equal more books read, therefore more money spent. Then the money spent started to increase!! What the HELL!! And increase a little more! Are these people insane?! And again! MORE MONEY! As time went on, and the popularity of virtual books increased, the inevitable happened. Corporate greed reared its monstrous head. The prices of Kindle books, for my most favourite authors, are higher now than what the paper back is. It is nothing more than robbery and pure avarice. There is not one single reason why a virtual book should cost more than something that has a physical presence and would have cost to produce, distribute and stock. This, my friends, angers me. Sadly, once again, my manic desire to consume books was curbed, I began to read less. I would choke down my resistance and purchase just to have something to read, but I was doing that less and less.
At the time I knew literally nothing of the Indie scene. I was completely blind to that world, until my lifelong friend and fellow book addict Electa Graham, wrote, and then published her first book. I was SHOCKED! I was so excited for her and incredibly proud of her. She did what we dreamt about when we were kids. She had put ink to paper and created her own world. Well, not so much ink to paper, times have changed in the last 30 years by no small margin, but you get the idea.
It was then that she explained that she was self-published, that she was an Indie author. A what? And who are they? And they cost how much? Well, I’ll give it a go. Best avid reader decision EVER! There is a plethora of books, variety and TALENT out there!!! All of it just waiting for someone to stumble upon them. There are so many stories and characters that create a visceral response. Authors that have created books and series that I can’t put down, and I am saddened when I blast through them too quickly. These brave and skilled individuals who put themselves out there and work so hard to network amaze me. I can’t help think of how thrilling it is for these wordsmiths to have an outlet, one that is not dependent on big name publishing companies. But one only limited to their ability to reach the reading and eager masses. I am engrossed in this world now. I find myself searching on Facebook for authors that I find in order to friend them so I can stay up to date on their releases. I will Like, repost and otherwise assist when I can in making them famous. But please, not too famous. I like this little world! I can now get to know these Authors like they are real people, and they are! And the word Author, just has such a divine quality to it, it makes me a little giddy to know that I can be “friends” with them! Now, that does sound a little stalkeresque, but I feel I need to go there to get the point across. It’s a community, one of this age, and honestly as a reader for the last four decades, I have never been happier or felt more at home.
As it stands I still get my book store fix with my son. He is at an age where he is reading chapter books, and I can’t resist buying him books so that his book shelf can have that tell-tale buckle in the middle. I want him to read actual hard copies for a while so that he too can have that experience, that tactile experience that comes, part and parcel with that enduring love of books. Some day he will get an e-reader as well, but until then he will continue to flip through pages and stack books up on a shelf, trying to find space, and watching his collection grow.