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Books, E-Books and Anxiety

When I was a little kid in elementary school, my father used to take me to the impressive main branch of The Detroit Public Library to look up material for school assignments. He wouldn’t allow an encyclopedia in the house because it wasn’t a primary source. That was just the way it was at my house.

Another fond memory from childhood is riding my bike about two miles (without a helmet or a parent) to the local library during the summer months and filling my bike basket with books to read during the week. No one at my house paid too much attention when I read late into the night with a bright flash light under the sheet providing just enough light to read.

Our grandkids won’t ever do those things. First, hardly anyone goes to the library to do research anymore. There are electronic libraries that can give almost instant information about anything. Sure, I still use primary sources, but they don’t require flipping through guides to periodic literature or card catalogues arranged in mysterious ways. Furthermore, kids aren’t allowed to ride bikes unaccompanied by their parents or other adults and certainly without protective gear.

Finally, and most anxiety producing for me, there might not be books to read. Okay, that’s a bit extreme. But, remember you are reading a blog about anxiety. And people who write about anxiety sometimes get a bit anxious. Okay, we might wallow from time to time. But no books—that’s crazy.

Well, not really; not crazy at all. From the primary source, Amazon, a press release reported that for the first time e-books (books in electronic form) outsold real books (hardcover books) for the last 3 months. Amazon said that in the last 4 weeks, for every 100 hardcover books sold, a total of 180 e-books sold. This information makes me anxious.

Why? Well, I love books and I also love computers and I also love writing books. So far, these three passions have worked out to be pretty compatible. But, I worry like many authors, about the problems in the business of copyrights, declining royalties, plagiarism and the disappearance of the joy of holding a solid, physical book. Granted, this view may make me a Neanderthal—something else to worry about. I like my book shelves filled with old friends and I’ll keep on buying the grandkids books.

Okay, there’s also no doubt that one of these days soon, I’ll buy myself some type of e-reader. I can’t deny the thought of taking a bunch of books on the next trip without adding luggage fees sounds tempting. That brings on one more worry—which reader to buy?

Replies and thoughts welcome.

Books, E-Books and Anxiety

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

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APA Reference
Smith, L. (2010). Books, E-Books and Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Jul 2010
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