Money is a very touchy subject. It is one of the few things that will end family relationships, marriages, and friendships. People don't realize just how emotional the subject of money is or the far reaching consequences of not having money.
Recently I read Seanan's post called Across the Digital Divide
. It's a good article and worth reading. Trust me.
For those who feel it is TL;DR – to quote Seanan, This doesn't change the part where, every time a discussion of ebooks turns, seemingly inevitably, to "Print is dead, traditional publishing is dead, all smart authors should be bailing to the brave new electronic frontier," what I hear, however unintentionally, is "Poor people don't deserve to read."
The thing that struck me about Seanan's post was how right she was.
I grew up poor. Three kids, enlisted Army father, stay at home mother to begin with. Luxuries were not in the budget. Period. That included books. It affected me. I wrote about it in my finance book, The Little Finance Book That Could
, which is the finance book I wish I had read when I entered college.
Library books were the only new books I read. Or, I was gifted the rare book here or there. Otherwise, I read what was in my mother's personal library, collected and cared for over years. Going to the library became a treat in my tween period while I lived in Belgium. That was when I discovered Susan Cooper and suddenly understood that books meant that I could travel to whole new worlds.
But with all that, I did not by a book for myself until I was twenty-three. Me, the owner of some 1500 books, didn't buy my first book until I was out of college and had moved out of my parent's home.
Why? Because I didn't have the money. My first personal library came from culling my parent's library. They let me take all the books I wanted out of a certain set of bookcases. At this point, I don't remember what the first new book I bought myself was. Nor can I remember if it came from a used bookstore (probably) or if it came from a chain bookstore.
When I realized this, I had to contact my mom and ask her if this was right. It boggles my mind that I was an adult before I was able to buy my own books. But thinking back, before Belgium, I didn't really read. In Belgium, I had the base library. From 12-14 (NJ, second time), I had the local library. From 14-16 (PA), I had the school library. I remember spending a LOT of time in the school library. From 16-18 (CA), it was the local library and borrowing books from my friends.
If I had been required to have an ebook reader, I don't know how much reading I would have done. An ebook reader would have been a luxury my family would not have been able to afford.
Also, there is something so comforting to me about used bookstores that allow me to buy books 2nd or 3rd hand. I'm not rolling in money. I have to think about my purchases. I also think about what it would be like if I were a poor kid in this day and age and I'm terrified at the idea of what kind of person I would have become without the benefit of books to escape into.
It's like Seanan says, we need
paper books to continue. We need them for everyone poor (as in poverty level) military brat whose parents have to watch every single penny. We need them for the kid who saves every single nickel and dime they can to buy that $.99 beat-to-hell paperback because that is what they want and need. We need the next generation to be able to get their hands on books to read. We need to understand that while digital books are awesome, there's a group of people who would be left behind if print books went away and these are the people who need them the most.