Before going on holiday, I spent a couple of hours browsing in my two favourite bookshops for books to read on holiday. I love books and love reading, from trashy airport fiction to more literary or historical fiction, from biography and politics to business and psychology. For some reason I’m better at getting into a book than a film, and love grappling with the ideas as well as the language.
Unfortunately I always feel guilty when I’m browsing in a book shop, as I do almost all my reading digitally. I own an old Kindle and an iPad mini, and love the fact that I have books with me wherever I go, right in my pocket. I even have an old iPod touch so I can keep reading when I don’t have space to carry the Kindle. And I’ve recently started downloading audio books to listen to when I walk to work.
I’m sure some would question whether I can enjoy a book so much on a device. There are certainly aspects I miss about a paper book – the ability to lend a finished book to friends, the connection with the cover, seeing it on my bookshelf after finishing it. But I certainly do read more digitally than I would otherwise do, and being able to sample the first 5-10% of a book before buying has significantly improved my enjoyment of the books that I buy.
My biggest regret in reading digitally, though, is that I’m not supporting the bookshops that I love so much. This is an example where my actions are understandable, and rational at the short term, transactional level, yet I fear counterproductive to building the world that I would like to live in.
I’d be fascinated if anyone has any answers as to how we get around this? I’d love to know a way to support bookshops without buying books.