"We've told you a million times. DON'T. WIPE. WITH. THE. BOOK.

“We’ve told you a million times. DON’T. WIPE. WITH. THE. BOOK.

You ever meet one of those guys who claims they’re all about reading, when they’re really just about the size of their book collection? I hate those guys more than a vegan hates delicious. Plus, they’re doing it all wrong. They should be renting books, not buying them.

Books are the absolute perfect thing to rent. The vast majority of the time, you’ll buy a book, read it, and then it’ll never be heard from again. It’ll go on your bookshelf, acting as a constant reminder that you have indeed conquered that book, and retained a full 4% of the information held within. It’s also there because you may feel compelled one day to either read it again, or look up some obscure passage. But most of the time, you’ll just read it and it’ll sit there, collecting dust.

(Aside: have you ever noticed that the people with the largest book collections ALWAYS hate e-books? Because of course they do.)

Although e-books don’t take up any physical space, buying them is almost as bad. At least a regular book sits on your bookshelf, silently congratulating you on the accomplishment of finishing it when you glance at it. You walk by and the spine catches your eye, causing you to think “hey, maybe I should read that book again.” As an e-book gets buried to the 5th page deep on your Kindle, it becomes less of a thing than the sharks during the Superbowl half-time show. Remember those? No? That’s because they stopped being a thing as soon as they started being a thing.

If the whole point of reading is to educate yourself, then owning the book is meaningless. As long as the good stuff ends up in your noggin, then you’re good to go. Renting the book again is easy if you ever feel the need to read it again and brush up on the topic. If you find it’s such as amazing book after reading it again, then feel free to purchase it.

Now when it comes to renting books, there are 3 options. Let’s take a look at each of them, starting with the blindingly obvious, and getting a little spicy after that.

The library

It’s pronounced li-brary, not li-beree you simpletons.

Anyway, this one is pretty obvious. As a fun bonus, if your local library branch is in a large Canadian city, you may meet a crazy homeless guy! (fingers crossed)

I mention the library because you need a library card to take advantage of this next thing.

Overdrive

That’s a real badass name for an app that lets you download e-books.

So here’s the deal. In a desperate attempt to prove they’re “up” with the “times”, your local library has gotten permission to lend out e-books. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I think they just buy an e-book copy of whatever physical books they get, and allow one person at a time to take out the e-book copy. Pretty old school, but whatever. It’s cute they’re trying.

The way you do that is through a service called Overdrive. You:

  • Download the app for your iOS or Android device, phones and tablets are the obvious choices
  • Hook up the app to your library account
  • Download up to 50(!) free e-books at one time, at least if you’re part of the Calgary library
  • After 3 weeks, they automatically get deleted from your device

There are some downfalls to Overdrive though. The selection of books is pretty terrible, and popular titles are always on hold. You do get a decent amount of time to read the book (and you can renew if no one else wants it), but I couldn’t figure out how to return stuff early. There is a process to download the book and put it onto your Kindle or Kobo (non-tablet version), but it looks to have quite a few steps. And you have to register with Overdrive and make an account, as well as linking your library card to your account.

Still, it’s free with your library card, which itself is practically free depending on where you live.

Downloading

Oh, uh… well… uh… (pulls collar) the thing is… our, uh, lawyer is a little nervous about this section.

Unless you’re over 65 years old, you’re not surprised by all the e-books out there just waiting to be downloaded. It happened with music, porn, games, and that thing that unlocked your iPhones, so why not e-books too? And as e-books have surged in popularity, so has the selection online.

I personally don’t see a whole lot of difference between me reading a book from the library and downloading it. The difference in payment to the author in those two situations is a fraction of a penny. These things do add up I realize, but it’s a reality of being in the business these days. Notice how many authors are now going the self-published route, which allows them a bigger cut of the profits? If you have your own following online, a book deal isn’t as important as it used to be.

But there’s also an equally persuasive argument I could make the other way as well. There are probably 1,000 authors who are doing really well, while the rest of the industry barely scrapes by. One guy downloading an e-book might not be much, but a few thousand of them can really make a dent in an author’s bottom line. And so on. Really, it comes down to justifying it to yourself.

My, uh, friend uses a couple of different services. The most obvious is one of the major torrenting sites, like The Pirate Bay. It has a decent selection, but anything obscure probably won’t be found. The other one is called Library Genesis, which by the looks of the URL isn’t closely associated with ‘Murica. It has a better selection than the Pirate themed site, so feel free to have a gander for Rick Moranis’s unauthorized biography from 1989. More like Honey! I Shrunk My Own Career, amirite?!?!

Anyway, the point is this. Renting books is the way to go. So if you have a bookshelf of books, sell them for $2 a pop and use the money on a library card. You’ll have more of it and an equal amount of smarts.

Tell everyone, yo!