To my regular readers, my apologies for missing last week’s post and being late with this one.
The week just past was spent on holiday, partly to take a short break from work and partly to visit family.
First, I spent four nights in Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast where I visited family.
Second, I spent two nights in Canberra, the national capital.
And while I was in Canberra, a plan I’d made for that part of my holiday turned out very well indeed.
It was hundreds of years ago back in 1989-1991 while I was at the University of Canberra that I discovered Clouston & Hall Booksellers in Civic (Canberra City). To a low-income book-junkie like myself, Clouston & Hall was heaven – not only did it sell books at amazing bargain prices, but it also sold a wide range of interesting titles that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
In early 2009, I spent two months working in Canberra – and now I was a modest-income book-junkie. Thus, during those eight weeks I spent hundreds of dollars – and maybe even a thousand – hauling away piles of books from Clouston & Hall. And I mean hauling – after my first couple of visits (I traveled back and forth between Sydney and Canberra each week), I started taking two luggage bags instead of one so that it would be easier to lug my loot back home.
After that heady experience, I resolved that whenever I next visited Canberra, Clouston & Hall would always be a port of call – or if my book addiction couldn’t wait until then, I could always buy from there by mail.
Two years passed.
I never got back to Canberra, and I also never got around to buying anything by mail from Clouston & Hall.
Early this year, I made a major decision about my future – and that involved eventually getting rid of most of my books.
In April, however, I made a life-changing purchase to help me cut back on book-buying but at the same time make my love of books and reading much more manageable – I bought an Amazon Kindle.
And as my recent holiday approached, I came up with an exciting plan for when I’d be in Canberra.
I would still visit Clouston & Hall – but instead of buying lots more books there, I would make a list of any interesting-looking titles and later see if they were available in ebook format at Amazon.
I couldn’t wait for that big day to arrive.
Friday, 22 July, 2011 – after my first night in Canberra, the big day had arrived.
I slept in, eventually headed into Civic, had lunch and then went to Clouston & Hall.
I took out my pocket notepad and pen, and went to work.
Almost three hours later, after patiently making my way around the entirety of the store, I was done.
Just over three notepad pages were filled with the titles and prices of books I had found that seemed very interesting, somewhat interesting and even mildly interesting.
I left Clouston & Hall, grabbed a table at nearby King O’Malley’s, and with a cold jug of heavenly-tasting diet cola at hand I fired up my notebook and went to Amazon…
…where I made many disappointing discoveries.
Most of the titles I had noted down at Clouston & Hall weren’t available in ebook format at Amazon.
I double-checked at The Book Depository.
Nope – there was even less available there.
The dream I’d had of filling up my Kindle with lots more books I’d seen at Clouston & Hall faded…
…although my spirits rose again when, during my searches at Amazon, I spotted a link to the Kindle Big Deal where about 900 titles were on special.
Investigating that 900 would take time, however, and my notebook’s battery was getting low, so that mission would have to wait until later that night back at my hotel room.
Later that night back at my hotel room, I went through all of the titles available at the Kindle Big Deal, selected 23 of them and paid not even $68.
Next, I returned to the list I’d made at Clouston & Hall, looked at the titles that weren’t available as ebooks from Amazon, and once again mulled over something that I’d been thinking about since King O’Malley’s.
Should I return to Clouston & Hall the next day and actually buy some of those books?
It wasn’t a question of money, which I had enough of. As well, I had no issue with Clouston & Hall’s prices, which were very good – and in fact, I felt a little guilty having spent all that time there to make a shopping list for use at an overseas retailer.
It was a question of practicality, though. Not so much adding to my luggage for the trip home, but very much adding to the clutter of books at home.
Ever since I’d bought my Kindle back in early August, I’d only bought two books – and one of them had been the only book I’d read in all that time. Purchasing and reading ebooks on the Kindle had very much become the norm.
Part of me found the idea of buying books rather clumsy and impractical…
…but then another part of me considered the following:
- The only way I’d be able to read those books would be to purchase them
- Purchasing them would be helping a retailer I liked
- After returning home, what would I regret more – buying those books, or not buying those books?
- Even if I did buy those books, I could still get rid of them at a future date
- Really…so what if you buy those books, you big wanker?
So, I narrowed down my Clouston & Hall list to 11 titles.
The next morning, after checking out from my hotel, I returned to Clouston & Hall, grabbed those 11 titles and added one more (what the hell, it was in hardback for only $4.95).
And I’m glad I did, especially as the first book I’ve started reading from that lot is already engrossing – Frank Owen’s No Speed Limit: The Highs And Lows Of Meth.
To paraphrase a quote that is often used for the subject of love, better to have bought a pile of books and read them and eventually given them away than to have not bought and read them at all.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂