concerns about book fetishisation aside, I am actually mostly in favour of large personal book collections. I have several hundred books on my shelves and another 200-odd at my parents’ house that I could reclaim if I wanted to. the house I grew up in has a couple thousand books, probably, and…
I think that kind of bookishness is really a white and first-world thing.
Even being from a middle class family and having academics in the family - where, if we were white, having lots of books would be the norm - it’s really very unusual that anyone in our community would consider that owning lots of books would be a good use of space. I get a lot of bemused comments on the number of books I own, and keep in open bookcases. The climate in India and most South and Southeast Asian countries is very un-conducive to storing books - the humidity, heat and dust warps pages like you wouldn’t believe; not to mention the insects, and the fact that paper of the quality that you even find in the cheapest notepads in Australia was rare until recently. Despite India being the largest publisher in the world outside of the USA & UK, books are expensive. Relatively more expensive than they are in Australia, when you consider average purchasing power, even when you restrict that consideration to comparably middle class markets. The same is true for libraries. The ready access to books that most working class people in Australia have is pretty much non-existent outside of the industrialised world. This isn’t even getting into the issue of literacy.
I grew up reading a lot, because we’d always go to the library. But owning books is seen by my family as a personal quirk that’s occasionally annoying & inconvenient (having to store & clean the books, which can edge into other peoples’ space/comfort); now, I see it as trying to fit in with the middle class white kids that I went to school with.