It probably won’t surprise you to know that I own a lot of books. It probably also won’t surprise you that my child is now at the age where she wants to pull all the books off the shelves.
What has surprised me, though, is that I don’t care. I’ve never really cared when my child makes messes, because they can be cleaned. But I also don’t really care to protect my books from her. I don’t really care if she destroys them when I’m not looking. (I’m also not going out of my way to get them destroyed, so I do take them away from her when I see, but I’m not particularly concerned about their fate if she does rip them to pieces before I can get to her.)
Other people seem very concerned about my books. I say my house is pretty baby proofed. They look at my books and give me knowing glares. But when I say baby proofed, I mean I’ve eliminated most things that could hurt her. The safety of the books wasn’t really a consideration.
Here’s the thing. If my books get destroyed, I will throw them out. Then I will have fewer books, and more space. And if I really care that much about a particular book, I can replace it for a few dollars. (The exception is the gaming books–I care about those, because we use them regularly and they are much more expensive to replace.)
And that’s got me thinking about the nature of copies. In book publishing, there is no original work, only copies of a thing. I value books; I value stories; I value information. But the individual copies that I own I don’t value beyond their cover price. So while it’s not like I’m handing my books over to be chewed on, I also am not going to be upset if the corners get soggy and the pages get ripped.
I’ve already read the stories. Now they’re just copies of words, taking up space. And copies of things are replaceable.