On how I treat my books

I’ve seen a lot of discussion in various spots on the net about that person who cut their book in half to make it more portable. And since I just saw John Scalzi put up a post about this today, with interesting thoughts on his take on the matter, I thought it might be fun to go into my own thoughts.

(This is not actually going to be news to anybody who already knows me from my other blog posts elsewhere, or who’s been following me on social media for a while. This is more for the benefit of new incoming people discovering me here on angelahighland.info.)

First and foremost: like Scalzi, I fall into a general camp here of “I would never dream of doing that to my own books, and I’m not exactly going to judge somebody else for doing it to their books, but boy howdy does it sound weird to me.”

I’m another person who takes care with their books. I hate damaging them. If I cause even a little bit of damage to one, I feel like I accidentally kicked the cat. I don’t bend the spines. I don’t dog-ear the corners. If I want to mark where I left off, I’ll either grab a bookmark (I have dozens, I mean seriously, so many bookmarks), or just take the trouble to remember where I left off. (Which often means I’ll make a point of going to the end of a chapter, as “I left off at the end of chapter 5” is generally easier for me to recall than “I left off on page 63, halfway down the page”, or what have you.)

Sheesh, I even get twitchy if I’ve had books on my shelves long enough for them to get sun-damaged. I’ve got paperbacks so old that their spines have faded out considerably from sun. But by gods, those spines are still uncracked!

This has been a big reason why I’ve switched the majority of my reading to ebooks. Since I almost always spend my lunch breaks at my day job reading, and since I in fact never go anywhere without wanting to have something to read in case I have to kill time, this has historically led me to damaging my paperbacks without wanting to—just because carrying a paperback around in a backpack on a daily commute inevitably means that, for me, that paperback’s cover will get torn.

And I hate that.

Nor is this a problem I can solve with carrying around hardbacks instead, because of the weight involved. Particularly if I need to carry a computer in the same backpack.

All of which means that an ebook reader is a way better solution for me. As long as I’ve got a good case on a device that’ll let it stand up to being carried around, I am way happier with my Kindle Oasis as a source of things to read.

Which also means that as long as I know that ebook reader devices exist, I have a real hard time grasping why somebody would feel the need to actually cut a book in half to make it easier to read. I’m all why don’t you just get an ebook?

Mind you, I’m aware that there are a host of reasons why somebody might want to read in print instead of digital. The book in question might not be available digitally. The person may not be able to afford an e-reader. They might just not like reading in digital form. All of that is fine.

This post is not to take issue with any of that—it’s more just my acknowledging that I can’t see myself making a leap from “hey this book is too heavy for me to haul around” to “guess I better chop it in half!” Not when ebooks are around. And I acknowledge that apparently, there are people who can make that leap!

Even if I do find it very, very weird. How about the rest of you? Is it weird to you or perfectly reasonable?

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Author of the Free Court of Seattle series as Angela Korra'ti, and of the Rebels of Adalonia series as Angela Highland. Geek, fangirl, musician, and raving admirer of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music. Also a.k.a. Anna the Piper!

2 thoughts on “On how I treat my books

  1. I mean, I guess I can sort of understand the logic, but it sounds insane to my taste. If I choose physical book over e-book, it’s because I want to have a nice copy of the book. So if a physical book I have is really inconvenient to read, my call would be to ALSO get an e-book version, for actual, you know, reading. (In fact, I’ve been considering begging Subterranean Press to just automatically include an e-book copy with their limited editions.)

    That said, I vaguely remember my dad reading a really beat-up old paperback that was falling apart and simply throwing out each page as he finished reading it….


    1. I know right? I have in fact very specifically bought certain books both in print copies and digital, just because I wanted the really pretty print copies to admire art, but for actual reading, I wanted the digital. Christopher Tolkien’s last few releases of his edited work on his father’s stories fall into that particular bucket. _Gorgeous_ hardbacks but under no circumstances was I going to try to carry them on a commute or anywhere else.


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