Last week I posted about my dilemma as to whether to purchase a 14-volume set of E. H. Carr's History of Soviet Russia. Since then I've spent days pondering my choice. On the one hand, it was fourteen books about a subject in which I have long been interested and which I would love to learn about in detail. On the other hand, it was a daunting purchase: $500 Australian (which is roughly $370 US at the moment) from a bookseller half a world away, which would make returns difficult.
To help with my decision I contacted the bookseller, who instantly guessed I was on the hook and started reeling me in with book porn like this:
Truly, the man knows his customers.
That certainly kept me interested, but I still wavered over whether to commit. And it is a substantial commitment: fourteen volumes that I felt that I really could only purchase if I truly intended to read them (after all, my last name isn't Rockefeller and it's not as if I don't have other books awaiting my attention).
Then, while discussing my quandary with a friend, he suggested one of those obvious-in-retrospect things, which is that I should try reading one of the volumes to get a sense if I actually would want to read them. So I made my way to a used bookstore where I had seen a copy of one of the volumes, spent a few minutes reading one of the chapters, and made my decision. Now I am $500 Australian poorer but in three weeks I will be fourteen volumes richer. Time to clear out some shelf space!