Book Whore

My book acquisition habits are utterly promiscuous. Any little thing that catches my eye, I take it home with me. My propensity to pick up books by no means signals any genuine commitment on my part -- with only a tiny percentage of my finds do I actually follow through and READ more than a couple of pages. Some of the books go straight onto my Amazon.com Marketplace account (which doesn't net me real income so much as it allows me to fiscally justify my book promiscuity), some get flipped through and then forgotten, a rare few find a place in my REAL library, and a problematic quantity go into the limbo pile, the books I can't make my mind up about.

The limbo pile contains books that might make it into my real library if I had room on my shelves. (I need another bookcase, so that I can establish a "feminist theory" section, and subdivide my weedy "miscellaneous" collection.) It contains books that I deceive myself into thinking I might read someday, or at least wish to consult someday -- but then I betray my finitude by forgetting that they are there. (I have twice ordered books that I already owned but forgot that I had -- in both cases, I managed to get out of the deal without having to actually pay for the mistake.) I know things are getting out of hand when the limbo pile makes it difficult to squeeze my laundry basket through my bedroom door.

On my tight budget, my book promiscuity does not rear its ugly head in chain bookstores, or used bookstores, or even area thrift stores selling books at their regular prices (even 75 cents for a paperback or $2 for a hardback seems like a lot of money to me). It mainly afflicts me at the Durham Habitat for Humanity Hand-Me-Ups Store, which has been running a book special (10 cents for paperbacks) for months now, at the fairly frequent and never advertised book clearance sales at the Carrboro branch of the PTA Thrift Shop, and most especially on the final day of the various local public library book sales, which is always "bag day" -- all the books that you can fit in a paper grocery sack for one low price.

I religiously haunt the library sales of four county library systems -- Chatham, Orange, Durham, and Wake. I almost missed the fall sales of both Chatham and Durham counties this year, not finding out about them until the last day of the sale. (I try to keep an eye out for the sales well in advance, but sometimes the libraries don't publicize the dates until the week or so before, and they end up sneaking up on me.) Which is just as well, because I don't really need to be paying by-the-book to add to my already bloated library. But snooping around and filling up bags is sheer fun -- worth the price of admission.

My coup at the Durham sale was finding a copy of Conrad Lindberg's critical edition of the Prefatory Epistles of St. Jerome from the Wycliffite Bible. This is an out-of-print, limited availability volume that would be coveted by, oh, maybe, a dozen people in the country. And I happen to be one of them.

(This is one of the nice things about getting further and further into esoteric fields of study -- the books that I am most likely to get most excited about are books that appeal to a very small range of other people, and hence are likely to still be available, even on the last day of a three-day sale.)

I would have happily paid $14 for this volume alone, as that still would have been about half of what I would have had to pay if I ordered it from one of the few online dealers that has a copy. So, to my reckoning, I got a great deal on this one book, and all of the other books that filled the two bags that I schlepped away from the library garage were FREE!

Which leads back to the growing problem of the growing limbo pile. I think I'm going to try Bookcrossing to start winnowing the accumulated mass of my one night book stands.

1 comments:

CyberianTygre said...

"[A] copy of Conrad Lindberg's critical edition of the Prefatory Epistles of St. Jerome from the Wycliffite Bible" seems like an unusal and worthy find, but what else can be found at such sales that attracts Rachel's attention? I can't picture finding very much of use to a doctoral student in theology - although the Triangle reported has the highest number of PhDs per capita on the planet.

Next time you plan to go to the PTA Thrift Shop, let me know...I'm particularly interested in the fact they have art work for sale.

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