[Guest Post] The Myth of the Wrong Books by KB Meniado

Bookbed was born in 2010, in the hope of finding a solution to my perpetual problem of “where do I get money to buy more books.” I was just out of a job then (my contract ended), my savings account a joke, so I was worried about how I was going to sustain my book buying habit, which was one of the few things I’ve built my happiness around. I know, I hear you—parents. Mine are always so generous and supportive, but they were already paying for my bills as it was. I was 20, and if I was serious about learning how to be an adult, including affording my own wants, I had to somehow try my best in many ways, didn’t I? So one of my ~great ideas was book buying and selling.

Now I don’t mean that Bookbed was my gateway to maturity, financial stability, and my best self, because nah, fam. The point I’m trying to make is that when I started doing Bookbed—at least the first version of it which was an online secondhand bookstore thing, I learned so many things about readers, and I was able to connect with a lot of them. This was kind of mindblowing and magical to me, because growing up, reading had always been more of a solitary experience. Sure, my high school barkada and I also bonded over romance and young adult novels, but one, they were already my friends, and two, they seemed like they could live without all of it, unlike me. In the world of online book buying and selling, I was meeting strangers, forging friendships with them, finding out how much books meant to them.

It was life-changing.

But it wasn’t always ideal. Because there were a lot of times I wasn’t selling any and just more of buying many. I remember thinking “shit, I’m reading and buying the wrong books and now I can’t get rid of them.” (Excuse this insecurity, I was my particular kind of young idiot.) But digging deeper, it was an insight on how different readers are, and how differently we all read. Sometimes it’s not about the bestsellers, and other times it’s not about the cult reads. Or it’s not even about the literal printed word at all! I should know, illustrated books sold out before I could even say “nope, no discount.”

I learned way more about how and what people read when Bookbed became a community in 2014. This was because aside from book buying and selling, we put up a book blog that was (and still is) open to one-time and regular contributors. Everyone and anyone could write about whatever book they wanted, and we would publish the review or feature, given that it followed our easy guidelines. We, like others, also accepted review requests, collaborated with other communities, and worked with authors and illustrators. We, like others, worked to create a safe space where all kinds of people, voracious readers or not, could read whatever they wanted and talked about it however and whenever they want.

Know what all those years of doing Bookbed work drilled to me? That every freaking book has a reader. It doesn’t matter what genre or who it is by or where it is set, there will always, always be someone who will want to read it and who will want to talk about it. So again: it’s not about selling the wrong books. It’s about finding the right people to sell it to. Sounds easy? With social media trends and all those bajillion freaking hashtags, just one click and there they are, all the new book buddies and buyers.

Well, I wish that always worked. Because while I love how the online book community is so happening and revolutionary right now, sometimes everything can get a little too intimidating, isolating, and, dare I say, derivative. Please don’t think I’m being all high and mighty here because I’ve fallen into those traps as well, and all I can say is that… there will be more, for sure. What I suggest we can do is to practice self-awareness and mindful consumption (and that goes for everything else in life). Say, this book is going viral? You don’t necessarily have to read it – or you absolutely may, I mean, it’s your life. Do what you want!

And that’s the ~moral lesson of all this, basically. (Remember book review assignments, anyone?) Your life, your choices. It’s not about having the right books, or the right number of followers, or maybe even the right amount of money. It’s about the right to choose what you want to read, and the right to be free to enjoy what you choose. Try your best to do that and you’ll see the right people and books will find their way to you (or vice versa, it can go both ways). It’s really mindblowing and magical, take it from me.

In author Orhan Pamuk’s words, KB Meniado read a book one day and her whole life was changed. She believes that reading helps shape dreams, and dreams help build lives. Visit the community she put up in the name of her love for stories and books on BOOKBED.ORG.


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