My tendency, when I identify a book that I want to read, is to look it up on Amazon, see if there is a Kindle edition, and buy it. But, we’ve been trying to cut back on our spending a bit and buying books certainly makes up its fair share of the cutbacks. So I’m following a new plan:
Check the library first.
This happened twice this week and saved me about $30. First, I was watching Charlie Rose interview Gary Oldman and they were talking about Oldman’s role as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I’d heard of the book, of course, but never read it. I decided it sounded interesting and popped over to Amazon to download it–and then thought the better of it. Instead, I headed over to the Fairfax County website and looked to see if the book was at my local branch. It was, so I put a hold on it. On Thursday evening, I received an email telling me the book was being held for me and I could pick it up. So yesterday, after work, I headed to the library to do just that.
I must say they’ve made this much, much easier. I reserved the book online. When I walked into the library, it was entirely self-service. I found the book with my name on it. I checked it out using the self-service kiosk. Easy!
But my second checkout was even easier. When I’d gone to Amazon to look at Tinker, I notice another book that had been sitting in my wish list for a long time: Titan: The Life Of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow. So I checked the library for that book as well. They had it, and they had digital copies available for checkout. I checked out a digital version and was directed to Amazon to get the book on my Kindle app. A minute later, it was there, and I have it on my device for 3 weeks. Also very easy. And neither book cost me any money.
Libraries are wonderful. I’ve supported libraries for years, making donations to the libraries that made a significant impact on my life growing up. I am constantly dismayed when I hear about cuts to library funding. As Isaac Asimov once wrote on the same topic, when we cut funds to libraries, we’ve found yet another way to pull the foundations from beneath our civilization.