When you really think about it, a public library is really an amazing place. A public building, open to anybody, filled with the knowledge of the world – all for no cost. Growing up I thought of it mainly as a place where I can take out regular old books – and I never thought a second about it. Now, the public library is one of my main resources for reading comic books. It’s an amazing resource, and yet for some reason I feel guilty about it.
Have you ever illegally downloaded a song or a movie before? You want to view something but you don’t want to pay for it – isn’t that almost exactly what a library is? Instead of buying a book and supporting an author, you’re bypassing the system and getting access to the book for free. And it’s not just books – you can get CDs and sometimes even DVDs for no cost at all.
What’s the difference between downloading a CD illegally and taking out a CD from the library and ripping it into your computer? Fundamentally there is no difference, but I don’t feel guilty at all about the two Tom Waits CDs I have on loan from my local library.
So with that said, why is it that I feel bad sometimes when I take out comic trade paperbacks? Recently I’ve been reading Fables like crazy. The first five trades were at my library, and I purchased the sixth on ebay. I figured that I would be buying them going forward, but just for the hell of it I requested seven through ten on my library’s web site, even though there didn’t see to be any copies in the system.
Wasn’t I excited to hear that all four had come in, transferred by different libraries in the surrounding area. But at the same time I feel like comic books are something to be collected, and that I am taking away from the author/artist when I don’t buy them through the regular old comic store.
Y: The Last Man, The Boys, and the last handful of The Preacher. I’ve read them all – but the author/artist gets nothing extra because I got my copies at the library.
There is a flip side to this of course. I am a current reader of The Walking Dead, but I read most of the series through the five hardcover collections – all of which I read through the library. Since then I’ve purchased trades 11 and 12, and now I am a monthly buyer of the series.
Without the library I wouldn’t yet be caught up – in fact I’m not even sure that I would know about the book at all. I just happened to see it one day and took it out for a read.
I guess the same thing can be said for music. There was an English band a few years ago called “The Darkness” and I was a big fan of them, however I did not purchase their first CD – although I did have all the music on my computer. Now, because I got that music on my computer, it prompted me to become a bigger fan, go to their concert, buy a t-shirt, and purchase their second CD the day it came out.
So sometimes, aquiring/reading/watching things without paying for them can lead to you becoming a fan of something you might not necessarily have become a fan of – and supporing them in the long run.
Sometimes I feel like less of a comic book fan because I read a lot of things from free from the library, but if anything those free books have prompted me to spend a whole lot more money on comic books in this past year then I ever have in my life.
Damn, reading comic books is an expensive hobby. But thanks to the library, I am definitely hooked for the rest of my life….