Books Are NOT “Non-Essential”

An article I’m in the middle of reading referred to books as “non-essential” goods that people can’t afford to pay full price for right now.

Books are in fact essential, be they in paper or in digital form. The written word is a low-bandwidth durable medium for preserving and transmitting essential knowledge and skills. (Even fiction is essential; it transmits knowledge, skills, cultural values. It can also serve as a lifeline to people, by letting them know they are not alone in what they’re going through. Speaking from experience here!)

Last week I shelled out $200 (including the $80 shipping from Australia) to order Bill Mollison’s books Introduction to Permaculture and the Permaculture Design Manual. I was happy to be able to order directly from the publisher, Tagari. (The books have become difficult to impossible to get from any seller in the USA.)

Postage is what it is. I regret having years ago donated my first copies of those two books (which only cost me a total of $100 at the time). This time I will keep them; they are essential tools for my teaching — and for my ongoing learning.

Even with what I just paid, I feel I’m getting great value. If I needed to, I’d be happy to skip a month of electricity or a month of dinners or whatever to afford those books. (Well, more like a year of electricity in my case!) I am fortunate at this point of my life not to have to, but I would gladly.

Books are gold. Books are ESSENTIAL. So are authors and publishers of quality books. They deserve to get paid full price for their hard work. Add indie booksellers to that list as well.