Friday, 18 March 2011

Placating My Conscience

Got another email from Oak Knoll this morning, and am thinking about how great specialist book stores are - even if you don't buy their books, which isn't really fair for them but that's life.

If I'm researching a topic, my first stop is to go to my local bookstore (it's easier to get to than the library) and see what books they have. But bookbinding - unless your local bookstore is huge (hello Powell's) your chances of finding something are small. The library - well, I can have the library deliver some bookbinding manuals from the central collection, but they're basic titles that I've either already got or don't need. Once you've scratched below the surface of a topic you need a wide selection of really obscure titles, and that's not the public library's mandate.

Enter the specialist book dealers. They're out there, lurking in the internet's ocean of information. They may have a hundred titles, or more, on whatever topic I have in mind at the moment. Plus, they very kindly type up a detailed description of the book and its contents. So I can hone in on the few books that cover the topic I want, without bothering anybody or making them spend their time helping out. So their listings are an instant online bibliography for whatever obscure topic I want to know more about.

Once you've got the title you want, I go online and see if I can get it cheaper somewhere else. I know it's perfidious, but I have no income right now. My conscience does poke me in the eyeball from time to time, but I placate it by promising to buy from my source whenever I can. And then I close my eyes and try to imagine wealthy patrons heading their way. I don't know if that works, but if it does and the store stays in business forever, it's worth a try. Or I mention them on the blog. Which may not work but it's the best I can do.

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