Saturday, July 19, 2008

at what cost?

In the past week I've read a number of articles about Jane Mayer's new book 'The Dark Side' so this morning we decided to stop by the downtown Borders store to pick up a copy before getting on with our usual Saturday grocery shopping. I was expecting discounted copies of it to be stacked up on the new book tables out front so was surprised that we had find our way back to the rarely frequented political section where we eventually found two of them. The price was $28. Now I'm not saying we didn't have money to buy one because we did but I balked at the cost.

This seems to happen a lot that books with relevance to here and now are published in hard bound editions only rather than having original release in paper so more people can afford to buy and read them. I just find it irritating and although I'd like to support the author for all the work involved the truth of the matter is I'd rather use the $28 for other things - ie, a donation to the ACLU who would greatly appreciate modest donations and would put the money to good use by putting legal pressure on the clowns who decided to subvert the Constitution in the first place.

As it is I read a lot online and if you're interested in gathering the essentials of her disclosures I recommend any or all of the following links:

Harpers magazine published Six Questions For Jane Mayer

ProPublica talks with Jane Mayer

Chapter One is called Panic

Los Angeles Times book review

The situation the country is facing after two terms of the Cheney regime is unprecedented and I for one have no clue how we'll find a path to a better tomorrow. If the general public was better informed or a little less complacent it would definitely help but I really doubt there'll be lines of people at the library waiting for their chance to borrow a copy of 'The Dark Side'.

When I hear the word 'hope' I remember the old saying that goes 'Hope for the best but expect the worst.' Meanwhile, there's not much we can do as individuals other than be witnesses of the situation as it unfolds. I hope the weather is going to be nice for my vacation but I have no control over whether it rains or shines.

ps: The painting is another by Michael Sowa - he's so good.
pps: Thank you for bearing with my politico-social commentary. I promise to get back to sillier stuff next time.
ppps: What books do you pay $25 or more for?


Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about how some books are buried, but I guess they are. Lately I've not been to a bookstore, choosing to borrow from the library instead. I doubt that our library will get Dark Side but they've surprised me before.

To answer your question, though, I don't think I've spent $25 on a book since I was in college.

Have a lovely vacation!

Seraphine said...

hi susan!
i wouldn't pay $25 for a book, unless it's a textbook. the last time i paid that much was for a book called adobe photoshop cs2 classroom in a book, which i needed for a course i was taking.

have you seen how much magazines cost? it's not unusual to pay $5.00 or more for a magazine. The big ones like vogue are mostly advertising.

i like to shop amazon to see if a used version of a book is available. i'm amazed at how many people ruin books because they don't know how to break the spine before reading it. i'll buy it only if the condition is like new.

Seraphine said...

i read the article in the ny times about american being too big to fail. it's scary.
i hope we find another way to spend out way out of this mess in a hurry!

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Susan

I trust you have nice holiday.

The article you mentioned in the NY Times today entitled ‘US Economy - Too Big to Fail?’, I think sums up the position very well.

Thanks for pointing it out!!

Best wishes

Mary Ellen said...

I know, the price of hardcover books are ridiculous, and if I do get a hardcover book, I tend to hold on to it, whereas a paperback, I don't mind giving it to someone else if they want it.

And speaking of library's, I was so pissed when I had gone to our library and found they were charging people by the day to take out the newer books that were on the market or books that were very popular. It just took away the whole public library experience, IMO.

susan said...

dcup - Books are effectively buried when they cost too much for average readers to buy. Libraries never get very many copies so you may have to wait months for one and now ME tells us that in Chicago the libraries are actually charging people by the day for new and popular ones. Bad situation.

sera - Buying books is my major indulgence so I have quite a few including ten cases in storage that we didn't have shelving room for when we had to move last year. I usually return the novels to Powells, except for the ones I may want to reread in future, but I definitely hold onto the reference books - science, religion, travel, history. I have some pretty strange ones I'd never see again if I gave them up.
Amazon is good but it's best used when you have a list that needs filling because otherwise their shipping charges negate the savings.
I'm glad to see you went to find the article in the NYT. The title alone got our attention pretty fast and I see it did you and Lindsay as well.

lindsay - I'm not really going on holiday - can't afford one :-). I was using the weather as a metaphor of the current social-political and yes, financial crises facing the individual in this country at this point in time. It's my belief we're in the midst of a perfect storm of consequences caused by actions that many of us never asked for and that many others simply keep on choosing to ignore.

me - I buy lots of books and likely will buy 'The Dark Side' at Amazon next time I place an order there since it will be cheaper. I give a lot of them away too (any book I loan I consider gone forever) but hold onto the cool ones. We pretty much decided to stay in Portland once we saw Powells - on my first trip there I bought all the Thor Heyerdahl books I'd been searching the east coast for the previous year.
I'm shocked about the libraries in Chicago charging book rentals. Do they declare a book overdue after 24 hours? Outrageous. I'm still mad about the museums charging entry fees and now this?

Pagan Sphinx said...

I'm with DCup. I budgeted for one paperback for my summer reading. Otherwise, I've been using the library and getting loans from friends and family.

I've spent over $25 on a book at a shot (can't afford to spend more) in museum book stores and shops. Sometimes I can't bear to walk out of the museum without having the book that accompanies a particularly good exhibition. But I've not done this since my trip to London in 2005. And I occasionally buy used art books for considerably less when I find one I like. Last year I bought a hard-cover book of the works of Marc Chagall for $8. In nice condition, too.

As for the links you provide, thank you for them. I will be checking them out.

I hope you had a great weekend, Susan.


Anonymous said...

Susan - First, have a lovely vacation. Rain or shine, I'm sure you will find a way to brighten the day that greets you.

Second, rant on about politics and throw in some sillier stuff while you're at it. We like it all.

Finally, to answer your question on books, I can't remember the last time I've spent over $25 on a book. Most times I'll get it from the library or simply wait until it's in paperback. I do have a $25 gift certificate I haven't spent yet. Maybe I'll use it this week. I hear the Book Thief is a good choice.

DivaJood said...

I must be out of my mind, because I have spent that much on books. I love books, I love the smell of them, and the feel, and the weight.

That said: the reason this book is so expensive is because it will not be a best seller - not a blockbuster. It is necessary reading, but in our "low information" society, I fear that only people who are already aware will read it.

Like the painting.

okjimm said...

I rarely 'buy' books. I frequent book exchanges at different co-ops and cafes. One, near work, gets a steady supply of Advance Proof copies; in essence books sent to reviewers and buyers. So the type-face is crude and there are editing errors that will still be corrected.....BIG DEAL and it sure beats paying beaucoup bucks for material I will read once and pass on.

susan said...

pagan sphinx - Money I don't spend on clothes (and considering my old black wardrobe, it's not much) I do tend to spend on books. My point about 'The Dark Side' is that it's an important one and I was annoyed that it wasn't readily available in paperback so more people could have it on a summer reading list before the election. Thanks, I did have a very nice weekend :-)

spartacus - My favorite vacations nowadays usually involve staying close to home where we're free to get involved in our games and projects. There's another story on the way so I'll be back to drawing shortly.
Most of my political historical reading I do on the nets - but I do like books and I'm too impatient to wait on the libraries.

diva - I'm crazy too if we can be described as such for loving books. I will never buy a Kindle for the same reason that any article I find online longer than 3 pages I tend to print just so I can examine the text and the nuances of the writing.
You're right about 'The Dark Side' never being a bestseller.. more's the pity. Jer and I have been preaching to our own choir for a long time and that's why I'm so delighted to be able to share discoveries with like minded friends.

okjimm - One of the main cool things about living in Portland is Powell's Bookstore where I also find the Advance Proof copies as well as second hand in good condition and new ones all shelved together. I buy books then pass some on, return others for credit and keep the rest.. I have a lot of them.

gfid said...

the nearest bookstore to me, of any kind is an hour from my town.... and it's just a little shop.... so i don't buy books as a regular thing. though Amazon could become an addiction. but on a trip to the city i'm seduced into any bookstore i come close enough to get a whiff of ink from. i'll cheerfully pay $25 for a book i love, if i know i'll want to keep it a very long time and read it many times. i don't buy a lot of fiction, and what fiction i do buy is pretty much all paperback. but i'm helpless to resist a beautifully done art or fibre or gardening or history book. first i go through and look at all the pictures, then i go back and read it.

fairlane said...

I spent 25 on an art book a few weeks ago.

Seraphine said...

my favorite place to read books is on vacation. at home, it's the bed or the sofa. if i had a pool, i'd read by the pool. it's hard to find the time. i'm good at reading a few paragraphs, and picking up where I last read.

Gary said...

Susan, I'm on Gabriola and haven't been out in blogland much, but I enjoyed this post. Have hope sister! Sometimes things turn in ways we can't predict and the tide seems to be changing a little.

I love all your art and writing. You're one of my heroes.

Gary said...

p.s. I buy too many books and am very happy about it. Almost all of them come from , the largest online bookseller (used) in the world ... and based in Victoria BC.

Scarlet W. Blue said...

Lovely painting.

Thanks for the heads up.

I'm with DCup: $25+ for college textbooks, and that only grudging.

I've paid about that for special books with a gift card.

I would buy a new atlas if I had the money.

Randal Graves said...

Another round of stimulus checks should clear up any shenanigans accidentally perpetrated by these guys.

PS: he is indeed quite good.
PPS: just don't make it a habit, you'll burn yourself out from the anger. ;-)
PPPS: art stuff since they all cost so damn much (though here and the previously mentioned are good places to check) and any lit stuff that I know I'll continually steal from, I mean, refer to. Paperbacks fall apart so easily unless the binding is solid.

susan said...

gfid - Several times a year I fill a good size bag or two with books to return to Powell's - mostly novels we don't feel like keeping. I like to use the store credit for something I want to keep. That's how I got my nice atlas, the OED and a number of others. I'd really miss living near bookstores.

fairlane - I do that too :-) esp. since I can't afford the originals.

sera - In spite of the blogging, work, reading on the nets, drawing etc. I'm still managing 8-10 books a month. I'd read by the pool too but I really wouldn't want to take the time to clean one.

gary - I hope Gabriola is being kind to you. It's a very beautiful island and even better with good company. I'll try abebooks one of these days. Powell's supplies most of my needs for odd stuff but when they don't amazon is amazin for what they have access to. Thanks for the lovely words - means a lot to me, brother. The story drawings would never have happened without the blog.

randal - Don't get me started on stimulus checks cuz that might auger the return of a very unhappy Crow.
There was a book called 'Doublefold' we read a few years ago that mentioned at one point that lots of books aren't made to last anymore.

Seraphine said...

sigh. i'm embarrassed i haven't picked up the "new" harry potter book yet, and i've had it... um... a year?

CDP said...

I like hardcover books, so I'm willing to spend the money, but it is too much and most books I wait for in hardcover. It just depends on the book.

There's a waiting list for this at our library!

susan said...

sera - That's funny. I bought the first HP book in Portland and once I'd read it I sent it to a friend in Toronto who was a Waldorf teacher with young children of her own. They did the thing with the sorting hat in class. After the third one I got bored and didn't read any more.

cdp - I must say I have a list of authors whose books I buy right away and that's where the 30% off any item comes in handy at Borders or I'll make up a small bulk order at Amazon.. or if I'm lucky, I'll find one at Powell's that's been returned by someone even more eager than me.

I'll get this one too but at a discount (see above)..

okjimm said...

It is summer and I like to keep my reading list a bit lighter in tone....Winter, for me is for the 'heavy' stuff.

I just finished "Water For Elephants" a few weeks back and passed it on to Miriam. It is just a fun summer read....and I thought, well done too.

Randal Graves said...

Someone wrote an entire book about elephants drinking water? Boy, they'll publish anything these days.

Seraphine said...

learned helplessness. administering random electrical shocks to dogs. presumeably to people too?
i hope whomever is next in washington makes a full investigation and disclosure of what is happening as regards the use of torture as an interrogation technique.
so that we can avoid ever going there again.

Seraphine said...

oo i have water for elephants too! i haven't started it yet, but i read the first chapter at the bookstore before i bought it, and loved it.

okjimm said...

Seraphine....I thought it a good page-turner....I would really like to hear what you think...... I really enjoyed it. Nothing fucking earth shaking, but a damn nice read!

susan said...

okjimm and sera - I'm ashamed to tell you I bought 'Water For Elephants' last year and never got around to reading it. Now it's 5 miles away in one of many book boxes in our storage area. It would be easier to buy another than go find it but one day I will.

randal - I heard somebody wrote a book about flying kites. I'd rather fly one than read about somebody else doing so.