One day as I was pulling books out and scanning the shelves in search of a particular title, I realised that many of the books I had I would never read again. In fact many of the books I owned I hadn’t read at all. I went through a phase of acquiring second-hand library books very cheaply; I just used to grab anything and shove it in a bag. All of these Gollancz classics with their distinctive yellow jackets and lurid paperbacks were never likely to be opened. Anyway, I decluttered or debooked or whatever the term might be.
I kept the books that I loved and knew would read again. I kept all of the Philip K Dick books simply because there were so many of them and they looked impressive. I kept the books received as special gifts or that had some other significance such as a memorable place of purchase. I kept some books that have been with me since my youth and also kept all of my hard copies of Aurealis. We still have a select few of these for sale. (Sorry, but I had to get that in as they are taking up room in my otherwise clean and uncluttered study.) In all, I got rid of nine boxes of books. Those large removalist boxes. And they were incredibly heavy!
So when I was looking at my iPad with its very own bookshops on it, I started to appreciate the idea of the virtual library (as depicted a little clumsily) on the iBooks opening page. The first book I read was Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers. It was such a page turner that I soon forgot that it didn’t feel like a book or smell like a book. I’ve found that I now read The Age online rather than get the hard copy newspaper.
While I love my books, I’ve realised I love reading more. I’m beginning to acquire a decent sized library that doesn’t take up room. My digital collection of Aurealis will soon be bigger numerically than my hard copy collection. Overall, the actual number of stories we have published is impressive, but what is more impressive is the quality. I love having my Aurealis… but I love reading it more.
And I’m not alone in feeling way. I was just informed that seven of the stories published in Aurealis in 2013 made it into the Tangent Online recommended reading list for the year. Congratulations to the authors involved! You can view the list at http://www.tangentonline.com.