How Much Does An Experience Cost?
Earlier today, I was browsing through a local bookstore to find a birthday present for a friend. I had no inkling as to what book I was looking for, let alone what kind, but with a blind trust in the beauty of books I searched and scoured for many minutes. Inevitably, I found myself being pulled towards books that I considered purchasing for myself. Books have such an irresistible allure, don’t they?
However, I found myself doing something curious every time I picked up a book: right after reading the title, I was subconsciously flipping the book to find the price. Granted, as a
typical stingy student, numbers have significant bargaining power in my rational calculus. What can I buy for the same value, if not a better one? Under a cost-benefit analysis, does this pass as a potential asset, a successful investment? The list of considerations goes on and on.
But with books? As I realized the object of my subconscious financial considerations, a creeping feeling of guilt slowly and surely began to envelop me whole. Can we consider books in the same way we do everyday products: through price?
To be honest, I’m not sure if the price of the book at hand affected my desire to choose it as a gift, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. We’ve become so ingrained in the culture of numerical calculation that price inevitably has a stake in almost everything we do. After all, whatever is physical and whatever is new is automatically seen as a product, an item, as opposed to something else – as an experience.
I’ll admit it: I was incredibly embarrassed at myself when I became conscious of what I was doing. Before even considering the depth of the book at hand or the quality of the author’s writing, I was turning to price to be the tick-list condition. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. However trite this may sound, books are indeed priceless. A good work of fiction transports you into another world you would never have imagined otherwise, where you meet figures and see wonders that can tangibly tint your own perceptions of the real world with a hint of hope and wonderlust. A good work of non-fiction changes the perspective you have on even the smallest things you do, or have, or learn in life, be it making an impulse decision or understanding the world of physics. A good work, in general, has the power to form a part of how you identify with yourself and the community in which you live. And thus, a good work grants you experience, which then grants you knowledge, then identity, then you yourself.
And how much does an experience cost?
Next time you find yourself in a bookstore eyeing all the wondrous possibilities, stop and realize that the numbers plastered onto barcodes and stickers value to nothing in comparison to how you will grow in the pages. Allow yourself to absorb the book, taste the author’s flair and connect with it before you make the decision of taking it home, as opposed to eyeing the price. It’ll make the experience that much sweeter.