Cured of Hoarding in One Purchase

/Beth Wareham

I have heard a lot of reasons why humans love books. The love of story is probably the best one. I also like the philosophical idea that a book represents time as it will take you time to read it. The more books you have, the more time you have. Have a lot of books, live forever.

We build special shelves for them, stack them atop one another in a column that reaches the ceiling, pile them beside the bed. They shout, “we’re smart! We read!” to all visitors. We may have read some or all of them. The real answer is probably more like one or two.

Humans love to hoard books. It is more acceptable than gathering large numbers of say, cats or ironing boards, in the same room. It is acceptable stock-piling. It’s kinda weird.

41DjGgGH-5L._AA160_I, too, was once a hoarder of books. I have bought and not read so many of them, I should be on a booksellers’ Hall of Fame list somewhere. I would squat in dingy corners of Half-Priced Books trying to find the 20 I needed that week to live. I would read three or four and feed off the paper molecules of the rest. I was hungry and young and my brain was so needful.

A year ago, I approached one of my piles and pulled up an old favorite. I held it in my hands lovingly, remembering when I bought it. I ran my hand across the cover, smiled, opened the book slowly and a big fat centipede fell out. In New York City. Technology and nature had reached a tipping point in my life.

Kindle Paper whiteWith centipede disgust, I ordered my first e-reader. It arrived and I loaded it with a couple of books, tentatively, like they might explode. I put the reader in my bag. Now, what I loved to hoard – books – could be taken with me EVERYWHERE. It was like I had a Sears shed for my own special hobby and no one could come in and bother me. This e-reader was an anti-boredom machine that would make any journey bearable. The world can do what it wants: I’m gonna read.

Much of the dust-centipede breeding ground has been removed from my house. My allergies are better and I found my first husband, dead, under a pile of coffee table books. It was expected, but still sad.

On your reader, you create your own library, your secret world where your brain can play out of sight. On your reader, you can go anywhere and do anything without the paralyzing fear of not having the RIGHT book to read. On your reader, you have the tools to journey further and further into the world, taking your essentials with you. Sometimes with e-reader in hand, I feel like I’m a rocket ship, able to travel a long long way.

On your reader, you


build a part of your life and take it with you, drawing on its strength as needed. Sure, I’ve got 237 titles on my Kindle – all stock-piled with glee – but the difference is no one can see and I, like all hoarders, feel better just knowing Euripides is there.

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All purchases at The ST Store go to Ebook Africa.

Paper Books Must Die Because of This: E-readers Forever

That’s right. That’s a bookmark. I don’t know if it was handmade or you sent away for it like those blankets on QVC with pictures of your grandkids fused into the fabric. I have a fair picture in my head of the woman holding the book; the man we can plainly see.

The world of bookmarks was a dangerous one: mothers and distant female relatives got involved. Unicorns and sparkles, the kitten staring into the mirror and the lion staring back; I’ve been given them all.

I got bookmarks in my stocking each year, handmade, often with googly eyes because my Mom stuck them on every homemade project she ever touched. I hated them on pinecones.   images-3

Later, I just stuck anything between the pages of a book: dry cleaning stub, jury-duty notice, gum wrapper. I’d jam anything in there into anything I was reading at the time, and the books and bookmarks became a story: a note on a napkin in Buenas Aires telling me to meet my husband in the bar, complete with his special little “drawing of   images-4 love,” he always left me, the boarding pass from a flight to Havana, an envelope from a once-loved friend.

Ah, the bookmark. The life it holds.  And as it is with everything that moves forward and changes, something is lost and something is gained.

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For the love of God, it’s ALL DIGITAL PUBLISHING

Hachette and Amazon made great theater. Mergers and oustings are our present form of castle sieges and beheadings (the Game of Thrones kind, not the Isis kind) and in all this noise there is something called a story.

As Amazon began leaving the pack behind, Kindle was the word, product, catalyst, stick with fire on the end, that drove all things “book” forward. The established order needed words for the scruffy wanna-bes climbing their walls, hoping for an advance and a place at the banquet table.

So up bubbled that word, SELF-PUBLISHED. That word has connotations of type-os, run-on sentences, dangling modifiers and strange page breaks. Well, have you checked out a “real” book lately? A colleague reported a typo on the DEDICATION page recently. I don’t know about you, but I’d get my husband’s name right in a book. Especially if it was the 5th page. This writer didn’t. I suspect it wasn’t her fault.

Now, here come children’s books on amazon’s new digital platform. SELF-PUBLISHED was a term of the range wars, the battle for dollars within an industry losing its market share. It was derogatory. It suggested these books did not have the “expertise” of other books. Those children’s book authors are gonna explode with creativity in this new world. They are the most resourceful, driven people I’ve ever met.

And, with the beginnings of publishing services companies appearing – like mine – we edit, copyedit, design, cover design, and market -a “self-published” book is a complete misnomer. It’s a DIGITAL story. It’s highly produced. And as more and more writers hire companies to prepare their ebooks with rigorous editing, position and cover design, what precisely IS the difference?

I say there is none. I say we need a new word.

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EVERYBODY POOPS: The Day Amazon Announced Kindle’s Kids’ Books Creator

Today, Amazon announced that the self-publishing world would now include children’s books. Their newest platform, Kindle Kids’ Books Creator, could now take the particular needs of an ebook for kids – illustration, text placement, etc. – and make it work in the electronic world. So what, you think. It is a ZZZZzzzzz of a story, except if you make your living writing and publishing. In that case, that announcement was one big KA-BOOM.

Publishing companies made huge profits from their children’s departments in recent years. The lockdown on that market was still intact. Apps allowed fantastic children’s stories to come to life – look at Loud Crow’s work with Sandra Boynton – but made no real incursion into trade publishing’s territory. As a matter of fact, at least in Sandy’s case, the app (it IS glorious) seemed to drive sales of the same book. Still can’t figure that out.

Now with the KKBC, who knows what will happen? Sure, great stories rise but the competition just got a whole lot rougher. Amazon just gave all those aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators out there the gift of fire. I think I see it rising above Washington Heights already.

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THIS IS WHY: Wild Mad Love for Ebooks

I believe ebooks to be the coolest thing I’ve touched since Bono in the 90s. I wanted in on an idea that allowed anyone anywhere to be faster smarter higher than they could ever dream of being. Books in the hand. Ebooks. Millions, if you want and they fit. 

There is a time as an older girl, adolescent and young woman where I ate books. Nobody was talking about much of anything – though there was some drunken polka dancing I remember feeling great shame over – I became aware of this huge, now dead, march of voices behind me. They talked to me and I ate their stories whole, trying to shape in my own mind a life I wanted to live. West with the Night by Beryl Markum is the story that haunts; I volunteer on a project in Zambia. 

This is the child I see now. This is what I have stayed to see: I am so excited about ebooks.

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