One of the things I thought about when building List Books was our desire to hang on to books. This is an argument I have faced from some of my friends and colleagues: I keep my books, why would I want to sell them? I keep my books too, but why? How often do you pick a book off the shelf and re-read it? I don’t know how many of the books in my collection I’ve read more than once, but I can tell you this: it isn’t many.
With the recent release of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film, I thought about re-reading the books. I read them when travelling, picking them up second-hand and either selling them on or leaving them in hostel book exchanges. I don’t know why, but I didn’t want to buy them new, but, for whatever reason, I couldn’t find a decent copy second-hand to order online. It set me thinking about a new way of book reading. Why keep books? Instead, buy a copy, new or second-hand, read it and then sell it on, happy in the knowledge that should you want to read it again, you can just buy a second-hand copy, wait a day or two and voila. Then you can read that copy and, when finished, sell it on again. How much easier would that be? Why do we need to maintain our own physical libraries?
Of course, in the future, e-books will take the lag out of getting your book and buying second-hand will have no meaning, it’ll probably be as cheap to buy it new as not.