I just read a post at Princessica of Books, in which Jess asserts that book bloggers are materialistic, because of their tendency to acquire books faster than they can read them, and/or to buy books just because they like the look of them. It was an interesting post (with an interesting discussion following), and it inspired me to write a post about a related issue I've been mulling over for awhile.
The commercialization of book love. Long, long ago, when I was a kid, being a bookworm meant you went to the library a lot, read a lot, and family gave you books on your birthday. Paperbacks, usually. You and your friends lent each other books, and you were excited to talk about the books you all loved. Maybe your fourth grade teacher had to pat you down before math class to be sure you weren't going to sneak read your book in your lap while she was teaching. (What, just me?) You took turns reading books aloud with your sisters or your best friend. If you were sick, your parents would stop by the library and check out a stack of books for you. As you grew up, you continued most of these habits, joined a book club here and there, and carried a piece of paper in your purse so you could jot down interesting titles in bookstores and later check them out at the library.
Now though. Now we have bookish t-shirts, and bookish subscription boxes. If you're a book lover, you can buy jewelry inspired by your favorite series, socks that proclaim your bookish tendencies, and candles with that bookstore scent. You can compete for ARCs, pay a blog designer to give you the book blog of your dreams, and insist on owning matching hardbacks of series after series.
We've become a marketing target. Where once we were supporting authors, publishers, libraries and bookstores, now we're supporting all sorts of businesses. Are you really a bookworm if you don't have any Jane Austen t-shirts? Can you claim to love Harry Potter yet not own a single wand, Deathly Hallows necklace, or Gryffindor scarf?
Don't get me wrong--I'm a sucker for all these things too. My husband got me a very cool Call of the Wild t-shirt for Christmas and it makes me happy every time I wear it. I'm despondent over losing one of my Golden Snitch earrings.
Book box day is the best day of the month.
But really, is all of that necessary? Or is it taking a very accessible hobby, and turning it into a middle class status competition?