Thursday, 10 January 2013

Buying Books

Over recent years my family and extended friends network seem to have forgotten, nay neglected, an important fact in my life:

It's not Christmas unless someone buys me a book.

Usually at Christmas as one gets older you can rely on three presents every year:

#1: New Socks (the amount of socks one receives increases exponentially as you get older until the Postman finally smacks you around the head with a pair of wooly argyles thus ending the whole sorry affair)

#2: At least three calendars.  I never buy a new calender until well into January because I inevitably receive three free for Christmas - this nearly caught me out this year when the Usual Suspects didn't buy one and I nearly had to trawl the January sales for the Reduced In The Sales Cheapo-calendar (Fortunately I was saved as a late present revealled itself to be a series of 12 pictures of Cats In Hats, set above the dates of the year)

#3: A book

The type of book I like best at Christmas is a) something by an author I've never read before (I've read all the books by the authors that I know) b) a book of useless trivia that I can surreptitiously glance at whilst the Queen moans on about her Horrible Anus (I still think I mis-heard her somewhere that year...) (see below #1)

But this year in the absence of any book whatsoever I ventured to my local library for the first time in several years.

Don't get me wrong: I like going into the central library which is actually housed in the remains of an old dance hall where my parents first met and is set on two levels: but our local library is a can I put this nicely...rubbish.

Firstly it has random opening hours which are, roughly speaking: Monday mornings, tuesday afternoons, thursday around the middle of the day and Friday afternoons again but at a random time. It seems to also open Saturdays and some Sundays at Whimsical Time- presumably defined by Schrodinger (on the grounds that it is never possible to empirically prove that the place is open, even if the doors are not locked).

 The first time I went in there it was also full of school kids who could be best described as "skiving off" (see #2)

Also once you go in there is not actually much in the way of books: a row of big print books for all the elderly people, a children's section, a couple of computers and three library assistants (which seems rather excessive considering the whole thing could fit in my front room and also considering that you can never find a single assistant in the palatial Central Library)

But this time I was a Pixie On A Mission - as there is a new Ian Rankin book out in hardback and based on the fact that a) hardbacks are too expensive and b) I'm unlikely to read a detective novel more than once unless it's very good (after all - you know who did it now) I decided to order it in.

Apparently these days there is a charge for reserving a book

Ninety-three pence.


Maybe it's just me being funny, but the first question that came to my mind was: where did they come up with such a precise charge?

Ninety pence I could understand, or even ninety-five so that it somehow seems immensely cheaper than a whole pound - but Ninety-Three??

That suggests that someone out there got out a pocket calculator and did some differential maths to work out the average cost of transferring books from one location to another - which seems like rather a lot more effort than, oh i don't know, just pulling a random-yet-sensible price out of mid-air

As to whether my ninety-three pence has been well spent I have yet to find out.  For one thing my book has yet to arrive, for a second the darned thing might not actually be any good

Thirdly, of course, I will need to find a friendly passing Rocket Scientist to define whether the library is actually open or not.

#1: Queenie was actually talking about her Annus Horribilis - her horrible year.  As far as I can determine this was not caused by her bottom

#2: Skiving off - UK expression for being absent from something, usually without permission


The Bug said...

93 pence? That's highway robbery! Our transfer service is free (as long as it's one of the libraries in the local system). This is where I like my Kindle - I can download a library book for free.I like this especially if it's a book I would probably never buy. (There are, of course, downsides to reading a book on a kindle, but they are outweighed by convenience in this instance).

Marion said...

NO! A charge to reserve a book? I'd be in the poorhouse. I request dozens of books & movies every month from our library on my computer. We have an awesome library system here in Louisiana which saves me tons of money. Complain to the powers that be!!! xo

Stephen Hayes said...

Like you, Christmas was always a time to receive books. One of my oldest possessions is "The Horizon Book of Ancient Rome." Inside my dad wrote: Given to Stephen on his tenth Christmas. I still love that book.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

bug - this is britain where we didn't get pizzas that come to your door until 20 years after the USA, so i'd never thought about kindle books via the library

I'm fundamentally against them at present as i'm concerned that they may make knowledge too disposable, but anything invented after a certain age is fundamentally wrong...

Marion - sounds like i should move to the usa

Stephen - much harder for your dad to have signed a kindle book - glad that it still brings you joy

Friko said...

Have you no second hand bookshops around?
And did you ask the reason for 93 p? Seems totally strange to me. Even a whole Pound might be a better sum, you or anyone else wouldn't have to dig around for 7p change. Surely finding change takes up valuable paid working time?

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Friko - the book is brand new in hardback. I do often look at second hand book shops though