I ordered a book yesterday. Online, it said that the book was available for pick up. When I got to the store, I was handed a bag that contained the notebooks I ordered but not the book. When I asked why I didn’t get the book, I was told that the stock online is not the same as the stock in store because I could have had the book delivered.

Walking home, there was little to do about the situation but laugh at it. This is the world we live in now. Instead of browsing in a bookstore, you look for it online and then wait outside for someone to hand it to you. I figured I could just order the Kindle version when I got home. It’s sure to be available, I told myself.

I didn’t end up getting the e-book when I got home. I think I just watched a movie.

This morning, I found myself looking for the book again. I spent time thinking about how far I was willing to drive to get it or if I should just find a location within walking distance. I thought about the price and the relative value it had – was the cost of driving a good distance to get the book at a cheaper price better than purchasing the e-book? I imagined how I would end up reading the book. Would it be in a well-lit part of my apartment or would I need a book light? I wondered if I wanted the experience of reading a hard copy, turning the pages, marking it up, etc., or if making notes digitally would be more practical. I also considered how long it might take me to read the book and if I planned on taking it places with me (forgetting that there are currently few places to go).

I spent so much time making the decision. All I needed to do was order it again but at a different location of the same store. Instead, I deliberated on a small decision.

Why? Why did I take so much time to think about whether I should get a hard copy – softcover or hardcover? – or an e-book version of a book?

The simple answer is that I needed something to think about. The more complicated answer is that there was nothing else that I wanted to think about more.

I could go on to list the pros and cons of the various formats of print that we have the option to purchase when we want to read. But, you’re likely looking for a reason to have read this far and for another to justify continuing reading on.

Some people are very good at making a decision and sticking with it. They don’t deliberate for too long before deciding what to do. These people make good leaders in complicated situations, ones where many people are affected. A wavering politician is unlikely to be voted in. Other people take too long to consider the options and come to a decision. These people are good at managing leaders. These are the people who present different viewpoints and make incremental changes through insidious remarks. More often, though, my bet is that these people tend to prefer working alone, and usually late at night.

I ended up buying the softcover from a location nearby and you read to the end of this post. These are the decisions we use to exercise our control over the world and make us feel free to do as we like.