First, a note to Cathie K. re VAMPIRES: Fair enough, well said. This has piqued my curiosity, however, so I picked up a copy of TWILIGHT and will begin reading it soon. We'll see.
I'm afraid this post is going to reveal just how neurotic I am, but rest assured it only applies to books; otherwise I'm perfectly normal(he says while his eye twitches, and hands wring)
I have an intimate relationship with books which would be practically impossible to transfer to the electronic field. It's not just the written word(novel, story)that delights me, but the whole package. The physical presence of the new, first edition, well-bound, smooth, untouched, unread book. The following is how I regard and treat books.
Buying A Book: At the bookstore, you take the book you are interested in off the shelf and check to see if it's a First Edition. First Edition books are first-run books and important for collectors. It's easy now(past 15yrs. or so)to tell if the book is a first edition. On the Editorial page(3 or 4 pages in,say) there will be these numbers: 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 . If you see the "1", you got a First Edition. It's important to me, anyway---I usually have to have a first edition.
Now you are going to buy the book. I wouldn't take the first book on the shelf because it has been handled by lots of people leafing through it---ugh. Try the second or third book behind the first. Check to see if the dustcover is in perfect shape, no marks on book from shipping, check the spine---important. Buy the book, but put it in the bag yourself---book clerks handle them like hockey pucks.
"NEW" books: I don't go to Libraries because being there makes me sad. All those poor, broken, misused, stained, smelly, devastated, unappreciated books screaming from the cold, steel shelves "Help!". Libraries are like used car lots where the car you are interested in has a pine tree scent thing hanging from the mirror. Libraries are like used furniture stores where chairs list to the left, and sofas have that stain you can't identify. Libraries are like....well, you got it.
Types of Books: I usually buy hardcover books now. There are three types of books on the market: Hardcover,Trade paperback, Paperback(pocketbook). When I was young, I use to buy pocketbooks because they were cheap and I didn't have any money. I still don't have any money but I never read pocketbooks anymore. Pocketbooks are reserved for the quick read, questionable status authors, popular themes(western, crime, etc.; But this is changing, I see). Trades are nice. They are tall paperback books, much cheaper than hardcover, but quite respectable and practical for carrying around. My wife and I have many Trades. But hardcovers are the best and the most preferred.
Reading the Book: There are rules when reading a new Hardcover book(or Trade). They are:
1. Don't eat, drink(anything), smoke, or chew gum when reading. Never eat chips or peanuts(salted) when reading. Your fingers get greasy and smudge all over the pages. There's nothing worse than a smudgy page.
2. No picking. hair, nose, eyes, teeth; no spitting on the book, no licking book.
3. Take the dustcover off before you read the book and put it someplace safe. Put it back on when you finish.
4. Don't write anything anywhere on the book! If you like what was said on a certain page, write the page number down for later.
5. Watch turning the pages. Don't fold down too much you'll cause a wrinkle in the page. If you have too many wrinkly pages, give the book to the Library.
6. Always use a bookmark. Never turn down a corner of the page to mark it, that's horrible. Make sure the bookmark is clean. Never use a scratch ticket as a bookmark; never use another book as a bookmark.
7.Never use the book for a coaster for your beer or coffee--it leaves rings.
8. Keep kids away from your books. I don't hate kids, but kids and new, hardcover books are a deadly combination.
9. Keep pets in the other room while reading.
10. And enjoy your book.
Both Amazon and Chapters--and I think Barnes and Noble---have devices out now where you can download dozens or hundreds of books to read on your iPhone, Blackberry, or whatever. It is quite amazing, and I would guess some people would find it not only handy and convenient but enjoyable too. But, I'm afraid I'm stuck in this wonderful neurosis of mine. I really can't see myself being excited about the latest novel now downloading on my cold electronic device. I think there would be something missing there. But, hey, Libraries would be different, wouldn't they?
Next: Dogs, and dog books