This latest book traffic report covers the months of September, October and November, that time of the year that bursts with fall book launches, author readings, festivals and literary prize shortlists and winner announcements. How did this household fare in terms of forging a spare bit of space for something other than books – was it even possible? – as we continued to take a year-long look at how books make their way into (and out of) this place?
At the end of September, the two columns on my home office whiteboard tallied up as follows:
- All incoming books were paper.
- 21 of the books were fiction, 5 were poetry collections or works, 3 were non-fiction.
- 4 of the books were purchased online from Amazon.
- 1 book was purchased online, directly from an independent bookseller in the UK.
- 4 books were purchased from independent booksellers – Ben McNally and Type Books – at book launches and readings.
- 2 books were received as gifts.
- In a first even for this admittedly book-focused household, one book was purchased three times. We obtained a special limited first edition of The Children Act by Ian McEwan from the London Review Bookshop, purchased a second book as a reading copy, then purchased the book a third time to give it as a gift.
- 32 outgoing books were contributed to three local Little Free Library boxes.
- The outgoing books were a fairly equal mix of fiction, non-fiction / reference and poetry.
- 1 book was the aforementioned The Children Act by Ian McEwan, given as a gift to a friend.
… and at the end of October, the two columns read as follows:
- All incoming books were paper. (We don’t really seem to be big acquirers of digital books, do we?)
- 6 of the books were fiction, 2 were poetry collections.
- 2 books were purchased online from Amazon.
- 3 books were advance reading copies from publishers.
- 1 book was purchased from an independent bookseller at a literary event.
- All 12 outgoing books were contributed to three local Little Free Library boxes.
- Again, the outgoing books were a fairly equal mix of fiction, non-fiction / reference and poetry.
… and at the end of November, the two columns read as follows:
- All incoming books were paper.
- 7 of the books were fiction, 1 was a poetry collections, 2 were non-fiction.
- 2 books were purchased from independent booksellers or directly from publishers at literary events.
- 2 books were purchased from independent bookseller Book City.
- 3 books were purchased online from Amazon.
- 3 books were purchased online, directly from an independent bookseller in the UK.
- 17 outgoing books were contributed to three local Little Free Library boxes.
- 3 books were given to friends.
- 16 outgoing books were fiction, 4 were non-fiction.
2014 to date: 121 books incoming, 203 books outgoing
Again, our outgoing numbers continue to confirm that we have an abiding affection for our local Little Free Library boxes. How would we have made it through this exercise without them? Certainly, they’ll continue to be a resource, an outlet and a good habit for us long after we stop tabulating our bookish activities in this fashion.
In fact, Little Free Library boxes were a comfort to us during this period. This fall, my in-laws moved from the family home to a seniors’ apartment. It is a change with many more positives and than negatives, but the considerable downsizing of all the things, such as the books, has had its bittersweet moments.
Because my dear mother-in-law lost her vision several years ago, her beloved books were already gathering dust. (Thankfully, she has since become a regular and very avid user of CNIB resources and services and therefore continues to be an active and engaged reader.) While it felt odd to carry away many books we’d originally given her as gifts, it was heartening to feel the books continued to be gifts to new recipients as we took them to the several Little Free Library boxes with which we’re blessed here in east end Toronto.
I’ll save for the end of the year a final, detailed breakout of books read and unread, types of books, etc. For now, I’ll observe that our sprint through the fall season was less bookishly profligate than I would’ve thought. I must say, though, that my favourite way to purchase books is at literary events, where you can celebrate and mingle with other booklovers, and you can transform those purchases into special treasures with inscriptions and memories of connections made and words exchanged with the authors.
We have just one more month left in our year of flying books …!
BOOKS / When your neighbour’s yard is a library
by John Lorinc
Special to The Globe and Mail
December 12, 2014