I bought a paperbook

I bought a paperbook

It arrived today.

“It” came because I did something I haven’t done in more than four years.

I bought a paperbook…for myself.

It felt odd, honestly, and I felt a bit…yes, guilty about it.

You see, what happened was that I had put a watch at


years ago for a book called simply “Monsters” by George Eberhart.

Eberhart, a librarian, wrote one of my prized possessions:

A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies: Primary Access to Observations of UFOs, Ghosts, and Other Mysterious Phenomena (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s an amazing work of scholarship, listing primarily newspaper articles from all across the United States about all kinds of weird stuff.

That might not sound like much to you, but I treasure it.

Cryptozoology is a special interest of mine. I love animals, and I love people’s perceptions of the world. I’ve written before about

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

I could never find out much about this book, oddly enough. Searching the internet, I would find references to it, but I couldn’t even really see much of how it was organized.

So, I listed it on a “watch list”.

Now, many years later, I was told that they had a copy…and relatively inexpensively at $78.

I am about to get a bit of extra money in…so I bought it.

The copy I got is a retired library copy, a bit worn…but I’m pleased with it.

Why would I feel guilty about buying a paperbook?

My understanding is that most people who read e-books also read p-books…and I do sometimes pull a p-book off my floor-to-ceiling library to check something (I think we have about 10,000 p-books on shelves).

I don’t like the ecological impact of p-books…that’s one of the main points.

There are harsh chemicals typically used in their manufacture, and there is a lot used to truck them from “factory” to warehouse to store.

However, in this case, the book had already served a useful life. It’s been out of print for decades, I think…no one was going to make another copy because I bought this one.

The guilt thing is irrational, I know…I don’t hold it against anybody who buys p-books.

E-books (the storage of them and the readers) affect the environment too, although in different ways.

I need to put on glasses to read this: I’d rather have had it as an e-book, with nice links to the references…but I judged that was quite unlikely to happen.

Even though Amazon has stated a goal to have every book ever published, it might not be until some of them fall into the public domain…and of course, a goal is not a promise.

There it is.

I bought a p-book.

Not for somebody else…we still buy

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (at AmazonSmile)

in hardback for new parents.

I bought it for me…and I’ll read it, and add it to my shelves.

Years from now, if it comes out in e-book form, will I buy it again?


For now, I’ll just have to accept that I can’t tell people I’ve stopped buying p-books for myself. 🙂

What do you think? Do you buy both e-books and p-books for yourself? Feel free to tell me I’m being silly about the ecological concerns…I feel like that myself, and am not feeling a bit hypocritical. Do I tell myself that to feel better about not being able to read p-books as well as I used to be able to read them? Maybe…you can tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

14 Responses to “I bought a paperbook”

  1. tellthetruth1 Says:

    I still love paper books and have recently bought some where they couldn’t be found in e-form. As for you, stick your glasses on and enjoy your new aquisition, 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tellthetruth1!

      Oh, I love the p-books I already own. 🙂 The key thing is that I love the books…paper or not. I’m wearing my Dollar Store glasses right now, using the computer…I know I shouldn’t be at all reluctant to wear them, but I’d be dishonest to say that I’m not.

  2. Tuli Reno Says:

    I must admit that I gasped when I saw what you had written, but sometimes there is no other choice.

    I was going to buy some paperback books recently, but…the font size was too small so I decided to wait. They were two books which were part of a trilogy. They are out as ebooks now. I can change the font and I don’t itch from whatever it is that grows in paper books. I recently got a book from the library because Gabriel García Márquez has only three books in the e-format. I have a feeling the library will have to be my choice if I want to read anything else by him.

  3. Karin Says:

    I always say that I wish every book did come in e format, because I don’t like reading physical books anymore (and I’m a librarian). I have probably bought 5 physical books in the past 5 1/2 years that I’ve owned a Kindle, most of them gifts. I agree with your earlier responder. I find it frustrating when I can’t find books that I want to read (such as 100 years of Solitude in English). I’ve heard that the paper dust from books is harmful, so I’ve been replacing many of my books with ebooks, at least to get the paper books out of my bedroom (I still have thousands in my office). I don’t feel guilt when I read a physical book, I just don’t like it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karin!

      Hm…I don’t really feel frustrated with books not being available. I feel like I have so many reading options, I can always find things I’d like to read just as much as the ones which aren’t available. It’s more frustrating for me for non-fiction, because those work so much better as e-books.

      I don’t feel guilt reading a p-book (although I’m aware that I’m degrading the copy, despite how careful I am): it’s more about buying them than reading them. I still enjoy the experience of opening up a big, weighty, glossy p-book…but the reading experience is still better in e.

  4. Amy Says:

    I’ve shifted to getting all my paper books from the public library. That’s for two reasons: I love public libraries, and I’m too cheap (economical? thrifty?) to pay more than a few dollars for many e-books I just want to read once. Your ecological argument does matter to me, too. Do you see similar ecological impact with library books? It does frustrate me that my library buys multiple paper copies of popular books that will be dumped soon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Amy!

      You can get e-books from many (most?) public libraries, too. 🙂

      The ecological comparisons I saw went back a few years. This illustration of the issues with p-books and the environment is clearly advocatory, but worth seeing:


      I can find some studies as well.

      The manufacturing process has traditionally been a pollution issue, and the transport of the physical books uses resources as well.

      The library issue…well, since many people read the same copy, it would distribute the environmental costs. Reading a library copy is less polluting than ten people buying copies of that same book, so that’s a relative plus.

      • Amy Says:

        Thanks for the link, Bufo. It does make the environmental impact clear. And of course library books still have the same issue, even if it is spread out over multiple users. My library has very, very few e-books, and rarely has the ones I want to read. But I’ll be more diligent about searching their e-book selection first.

  5. Zebras Says:

    Don’t feel guilty! You found a beloved treasure for yourself. I am making a concerted effort to read the p-books I had on hand that I ignored for the first couple of years I had Kindles. I read them mostly in bed to get sleepy, and I find I forget to turn the pages, so it slows me down!

  6. Brian Says:

    Good on you for giving an old tired p-book a comfortable place to finish out the rest of its days. Far better than a compost heap somewhere.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Brian!

      That made me feel good about it! Thanks! 🙂

      Outside of hermetically sealed, humidity controlled storage cases, I think my p-books have a pretty good home. 🙂 I won’t say that a pet has never damaged one (that has happened), but that’s rare…we are quite careful with them (knock virtual wood). I think I’ve mentioned that neighbors had a fire when I was a kid, and a lot of magazines burned: I know that kind of thing is a risk, but I do the best I can.

      Thanks for giving me a good perspective on it!

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