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Random Thoughts: Confessions of a Book Addict

Until recently people may not have known that I have a problem. (Okay, maybe people might have known I have other problems, but this particular problem wasn’t readily apparent.)

I am a book addict. I first admitted it on Twitter thinking that by revealing my problem it would be the first step in solving it. But there isn’t a twelve step program for book addiction. Trying to fit my addiction into the framework for shopaholics, alcoholics, gamblers or other forms of addiction doesn’t work when seeking help.

Just heading to Amazon to look for a book to solve my problem only adds fuel to the fire. There are a plethora of books on addiction out there. And if I were to buy those books I’d just add more to the tottering piles I have right now. Buying more books is the exact opposite of helping.

Back before I became a book reviewer and blogger my addiction was my secret. I was able to buy books with just a click of a button and download they would. At any hour of the day or night. I would scour Amazon just looking for books that might be of interest and “one click” my way to a happier me.

I used to have real live books, but space was always an issue and the fact that I like to live a nomadic lifestyle doesn’t bode well for a large collection of printed tomes.

So when I was gifted my first eReader, a first generation Kindle, it made me incredibly happy. No longer would I have to give my books away. I could keep them forever in the small electronic device. What I didn’t really grasp the concept of at first was the ease at which I could add to my collection and feed my addiction.

The eReader is an addicts paradise. A blessing and a curse. A dollar here, ten dollars there. It’s just so simple, when not actually handing out the cash or walking off with a large bag of books, to discover you’ve just purchased twenty books in mere seconds.

I like to think I was managing my addiction fairly well. At least for me. At first I would simply buy books as I wanted to read them. (The option that makes the most logical sense.) And even when I discovered the pre-order option for Kindle, I still moved slowly. What if prices changed before release? What if I no longer wanted that book? Isn’t that what a Wish List is for?

Well, that lovely lowest price guarantee option squelched those doubts and the likelihood that I wouldn’t want a book is almost laughable. Of course I’d want that book. And so began the pile-up.

I then began to stay up until after Midnight on Monday’s just waiting for those Tuesday releases to download. No matter how tired, I would not rest until I was assured that those books made it onto my device – even if I had no intention of staying up to read them that very night. And when a download wasn’t timely, oh boy. Amazon would get that call. Oh yes they would.

Now, did I heed these early warning signs of addiction? The rash purchases, the late night stressing over non-receipt of merchandise and the refusal to acknowledge my credit card statement – the most common form of denial. No. I moved forward with gusto, I did. I did NOT have a problem. I was simply a lover of books, an avid reader. There is no harm in that is there?

But until I started blogging back in November, I had a manageable seventy-three books unread on my device and two hundred read books. A fairly nice balance. I liked having the choice to peruse books I might want to read. What good is life without selection? Without options? Pretty limited.

The world of book blogging opened my eyes even further. All of a sudden authors and books I knew nothing of appeared before me. New worlds opened up, new characters clamored for my attention, new adventures beckoned. And did I turn away, happy with my selection of unread novels awaiting my attentions? Sadly I did not. My Goodreads book list grew from mid-six hundreds to over a thousand in just a few months.

And my collection of books – both electronic and print – grew from just over three hundred to just over six hundred. My trips to the bookstore for more than coffee increased from one visit a month to one visit per week.

And my collection of eReaders has grown in the process. I am an addict after all. What good is addiction if you can’t fuel that addiction with each and every possible avenue open to you?

When I first started out I was given the original Kindle. I then was given the Kindle DX for those times when I wanted to read more on the page. I then acquired an iPad which was great during the time when Penguin and other publishers were battling with Amazon over pricing. Now, I did not buy these devices for myself. Each of them were gifts. Gifts from what are termed “enablers.” Yes, there are people who don’t squelch the book addict, but in fact foster our habit. Giving us the means to dig ourselves a bigger hole we can nestle in with our books.

My iPhone helps me out when I forget any of my electronic readers. I need my fix, no matter where I go. To the movies, to the store, out with friends. You can’t expect an addict like me to live for an entire day without access to my drug of choice can you? And so I have that Kindle app, the nook app and the iBookstore everywhere I go, with access to over 95% of my books.

And yes, I’ve been given the graphite Kindle which has been added to my rapidly growing collection, because that older Kindle got just too heavy and the pages didn’t turn quite as fast. And all bloggers will know you can’t read those DRM’ed pdf files from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab on the Kindle (and during that short period where NetGalley removed the Kindle button), which prompted me to buy my first eReader – the color nook – which I happily added to my eReader family.

Through all of this I’d still managed to keep my addiction a secret. Unless someone was snooping they couldn’t really tell how many books I owned. But with my recent excursions to the bookstore for signings, entering online auctions, engaging in book trades with other bloggers, and attending the RT book fair, my addiction has now resulted in my secret being revealed.

You can’t look around my small home without finding a book or dozen. Just open a cupboard, check on a closet shelf, look inside a tote and you will find those printed volumes grinning back at you, exposing my weakness.

So, yes. I am an addict. I’ve admitted it. Now what? Do I give away my eReaders? Do I donate all the books I’ve acquired through trades? Do I toss all those lovely signed books I’ve acquired over the past three months? Will it help if I only read standalone novels? Or is there only one solution: Do I – dare I say it – stop reading?

How does a book addict triumph over their addiction? Even as I write this post I’m remembering books that I wanted to add to my pre-orders – is that next book in the Nevermore series yet available?

Do I shut down my blog and spend my evenings watching re-runs on the Food Network? I shudder.

As someone who can’t imagine a life without books, a world without them appears dark and desolate.

And so I continue my no longer so secret purchasing, hoping for a magical cure. Hoping that my plea will be heard and that my addiction will not get the best of me. Hoping that I don’t one day become a news headline of a girl found buried under a pile of books.

To take a line from a recent favorite book of mine, “Helllp me!”

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