Since I’m human, there are certain things I like and certain things I don’t like. One of the things I do like is the presence of free books on my college campus, because despite having a fondness for nice things, I am also painfully cheap.
There are two things you have to know about me: I have over 1000 books at this point, and I haven’t paid (full-price or otherwise) for most of them. That’s not even counting eBooks, which I usually avoid since even reading on a Kindle screen has been a strain on my eyes lately. Anyway.
This semester hasn’t been as bountiful for collecting free books as last, and I wish I had started doing it sooner because I probably would have gotten more. I’m graduating in May; if I want free Bridgewater books, I’ll have to come back and visit, and what’s more likely to happen is that I’m going to just go to the town library and start rifling through discards and withdrawn copies (again). Salvation Army, likewise, hasn’t had many good pickings either, so I’m starting to think that someone else has gotten wind of what I’ve been doing and has decided to do the same.
Things seem to have turned around in the past week, though. I picked up a fist full of opera records (finally I can give Simon & Garfunkel a rest), and, as of yesterday, there were a lot of chapbooks.
Now, if you don’t know what a chapbook is, that’s understandable. They proliferate in some Cambridge bookstores and other indie selling venues (I’ve only been to New York once and I’ve never been to San Francisco, but I assume they’re just as present there), but otherwise you might have a tough time finding them if you’re in the suburbs and you’re not immediately friends with someone who makes them. Anyway, a chapbook is a small collection of poetry (I have the .pdf of my first one on Patreon if anyone is interested in throwing money my way), and they’re cool. It’s a way to publish your work (and that of others), and they’re really nice small things to have. I don’t have very many, but I can say that I have more now.
So now I’ve started grabbing free books up again in earnest and have small little books featuring the work of possibly otherwise unpublished poets, and it’s starting to feel like spring again.
If there’s ever a time when you can collect free things (when whatever those things you collect are, books or otherwise), I’d recommend jumping on the opportunity. Books are getting to a point where they’re painfully expensive to buy first-hand, and for the past few years, I think I’ve only actually done so with gift cards. Some places where you can find free books include libraries, since most participate in the necessary practice of weeding, but I wouldn’t discount yard sales too, as it starts to warm up—you can get five books for a buck or less at some of them.