Let’s talk a little about insurance.
Home insurance to be exact, and most specifically, that sort with which you hopefully replace some of your lost personal possessions. While not entirely an expert in the matter, I myself did recently have reason to familiarize myself with some of its more arcane points.
First off, let’s dispense with some of the misconceptions Possibly, like me, you once believed that upon approval of your claim they, Great Companies, would, in their benevolence, cut you a cheque and you’d be off to the races. Not exactly. Rather they make you a deal. They can pay you the Replacement value of your lost items, or you can take their Market value. Market value is indeed just a cheque. They calculate approximately how much your old Barry Manilo records were worth and cut you the cheque. If they just happen to be worthless, woe to you. Whereas if you take the Replacement value, they will pay to replace each and every thing – up to current standard! Think on it – your old musty couch for a brand new one. That old tube television for a brand new flatscreen. Your old desktop for a new laptop.
So, why would anyone opt for the Market value?
Ah, therein lies the catch!
See, if you opt for Replacement value, you damn well have to replace what was lost. You need to buy that couch, you need to buy that television. If you claim to have lost five hundred books, you bloody well need to go out and buy five hundred books! They will demand receipts.
Who the fuck is going to buy five hundred books???
Now I know many of you bibliomaniacs out there will grin and say “watch me!”, but come on: you know as well as I that that’s not how bibliophilia works. Bibliophilia is not like binge drinking; it’s about nursing. The pleasure of a good library is the time it takes to build one, title by title. Think wandering into the bookshop (when you were really on your way someplace else). Tracing your fingertips across the spines. Taking down the one irresistible volume and studying the cover. Flipping the pages with your thumbnail. Take in the fragrance of the paper and tell me: is it hot off the press, with the ink still wet and almost running off the blinding white pages? Or is it an old tome suffused with the dusty wisdom of ages? Whichever: the butterflies in your stomach can only mean one thing. I must have this!!!
Now tell me about the shop: a chain shop in the mall? A massive department store that stuffs books in between candle holders and place mats, serving burnt coffee at the counter? An antiquarian shop in the old part of town, in whose catacombs you’ll find buried ancient tomes? A yard sale? A cardboard box abandoned by the side of the road?
(If by chance, your answer is “Amazon.com”, this article is not for you, any more than an article on the joys of vinyl would appeal to some barbarian who thinks MP3’s have made all such things redundant.)