So in the past six months or so I’ve been making my way through Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series. Daddy has been kind enough to provide me with some of the books, and I have taken others out of the library. I’m currently on Memory, and the BYU library actually had a copy. It wasn’t even painful to find it on the library’s website (a feat, even when the library has the book), so I joyously went and found the copy in the library.
As I flipped through the book, I noticed on the title page, written in lovely handwriting, was “Lois McMaster Bujold, 1996.” I hesitated.
Was this really a signed copy of the book? For distribution in the library?
Wait a minute, wasn’t 1996 the publication year? I flipped to the copyright page. Sure enough, the BYU library has a signed, first edition of Memory. For distribution.
The dust jacket has even been libraried with that horrible, irremovable plastic cover to keep it “safe.”
Do you know what happens to books in libraries? They get DESTROYED. Children drool on and mark them up, somebody with no consideration for the gentle feelings of books will drop food on it or throw it into their backpack and bend the pages. Or place it open, pages down, to save their spot and weaken the spine.
And you know what? That’s ok. Because the idea is that it’s better to read the books than to take really nice care of them. If you don’t absorb the ideas in books, there’s no point in keeping them nice. Books in libraries are like this.
But some books, they deserve to be taken care of. Because books are treasures, and if you take very nice care of them, they can last for a very long time, giving years of enjoyment and pleasure to you and your children, and maybe even their children. The words and ideas in those books can be passed down generation after generation, gently read, to inspire new ideas and joy in a whole new world of readers. Because there’s something special about reading a book that is a hundred years old, or a thousand years old.
Signed first editions are the types of books that are supposed to be taken care of. Treated well. Not thrown into a library’s distribution system to be eaten up and destroyed by careless readers.
I collect signed first editions of my favorite books. I’ve waited at midnight releases, attended signings and stood in lines for hours on end to get them. They are carefully taken care of and loved on my bookshelves. I want my children to know that I am a vociferous reader and that the books I have are special.
If keeping the book wouldn’t prevent me from graduating I might try and hang onto it. I wonder if the library would sell it to me?