She murdered her library, maybe mine is next




My main concern is, I guess, owning access to a text. With a physical book I have that. I can always turn to it. With Amazon, or any primary e-book retailer, I don’t. They maintain access. They can kill my account and remove access to my texts. It would suck to spend time building up an accessible e-book library to have it taken from you by technical glitch or corporate overreach. It’d be a fate worse than… well, OK, maybe not, but it’d be bad.


Amazon or another retailer could remove access to any book, it’s a valid concern, which I’ve ameliorated by having no respect for copyright once I’ve paid for a book.

If I pay for an eBook and the publisher or amazon decides to retract my right to access that content at a later date, I have no qualms about picking it up elsewhere at no cost for a reference or re-read.


As much as I I love the conversation in a room dampened by books, my bookshelves also keep my neighbors from complaining about my atrocious musical ability, while still looking better than egg-crate foam.


“I love re-reading old classics (mostly science fiction) on it and do not miss the hard copies.” — the problem is when you need to read old ones which are not classic. There are plenty of books (and versions of books) which are not and will never be available in digital form. This is a serious issue for many people working in the humanities, especially historians.


There are ways around the problem of buying from Amazon or the other retailers while not allowing them to take your ebooks away from you.

I will be facing the problem of library reduction soon. I’ll be moving and contemplate keeping only a few paper copies of important books that I already have ebooks for…not counting art books and other coffee table books. I’ve already rid myself of over half of my former dead tree library. There are a few I won’t part with…but only a few.

Funruly, you address a valid concern…


I hate to be contrary. However, besides ownership concerns, besides the sentimentality embodied by physical objects, besides the vast libraries that have never been transferred to any electronic format, and besides the interior decorating value, there’s also the fact that I don’t own a Kindle, and I Murdered My Library exists only for the Kindle.


On the one hand, I no longer have to find room in my place for thousands of CDs, and am down to four (overstuffed) bookshelves (plus boxes in storage…)

On the other hand, I will really miss the joy of having friends come over and browse my CD and book collection, or starting a conversation with someone I know only a little because I’m browsing theirs.

And I miss the fast cash infusion I could get for hocking a box of books or CDs that I culled before moving. Le sigh.


Personally, I’ve never liked an e-reader as much as an actual, physical book. There’s something about the tactile sensation, and the actual feeling of onwership that adds to the experience. Add the “we can remove or edit your copy at will” aspect of digital-only and I just have no interest.


I will always prefer the feel of a physical book, but I have a reader I’m happy with. I still buy books hard copy as well as buying e-books. When e-readers came on the scene, I realized that I could divide books into two basic categories:

• “Candy” books - These may be fast reads you can read in a night, may have little re-rereadability or sharing value, but are still fun and engaging. The physical book doesn’t require a long emotional investment, and their value comes from the story itself. Once you’re done reading, you’re done.

• “Cherish” books - These are the ones that you really need to keep in a paper format. Either they contain lovely illustrations or formatting, or are part of a lending library you have, or are from an author you collect. They may be early editions of classics or signed copies. They have either sentimental or practical value in their physical form. For whatever reason, they require shelf space. - Quick note, just because something is a paperback doesn’t mean it isn’t cherished by me.

When I buy books now, I consider which of the categories a book falls into for me. I ask myself, “Do I need a physical copy? Is it worth the space?” I find that giving the time to consider the option between the two general types of book helps me to make better purchases. I don’t regret lost space, and I still get to buy really wonderful books.


I have been reading a lot more since I got my Nook actually. I do love physical books but some are so huge they are not fun to lug around also when insomnia hits I don’t have to turn on a light and bother the wife. Though I still have a love for physical books but have opted for very targeted buying of stuff I can’t get readily in the library or regular bookstore so I don’t have a house full of them. God knows I have a big enough stack of to read as is.


My favorite term for those oh-so-heavy tomes is “nose breaker” (from what happens if you accidentally fall asleep while reading one!).


Perhaps this holds true for fiction? But I have a massive non-fiction library, and most of those books I keep around for reference. That means they often have post-its sticking out of them, highlights on the pages, notes in the margins, and I want to be able to pick them up and flip through them. During writing sessions you’ll often find me surrounded by stacks of non-fiction books related to whatever I’m writing about.

Ereaders do attempt to offer an answer to this, with highlights and notes and such, but I don’t find it satisfactory to my needs (your mileage may vary). Which isn’t to say I don’t read non-fiction ebooks; I do. If they’re worth keeping around to reference, I go out and find a paperback copy to go with the ebook (assuming one exists).

Eventually I may pare down my fiction library, removing books I have no interest in rereading or keeping for sentimental reasons, but I can’t see myself ever giving up my physical books in great quantities, just for the reference reason alone (not even getting into the problems related to not owning ebooks which is also a deterrent to eschewing paper for an epub or mobi file). While I find myself reading more on my ereader these days for the convenience of it, it will never replace my paper books.

Also, on a personal note, I feel safe surrounded by books, and if my house were empty of them I would never feel at home. Even if moving 30+ boxes of them is a lot of work. It’s worth it to me.


One article currently on Boing Boing about government flagrantly abusing access to electronic information, another article about how happy we are to replace hard-copy with electronic information.


Or you could just remove the DRM on the books once you purchase them and store them like you store MP3 files.


DeDRM tools
DeDRM plugin for Calibre (based on #1 there)


The technical term for your people is “Book Smellers” (because usually they reference the “smell of the book”).


I used to own 10,000 books or so (not an exaggeration). After a cross country move (and a lot of other moves) and friends literally having nightmares about small boxes labeled “Al’s Books,” I decided to downsize. At this point, I probably own about 1,500 books and everything else is an ebook. My house is much more spacious, my floors no longer creak (not a joke either), and my spouse is happier.

I can’t contemplate ever buying a novel or similar as a physical book. Why would I? I’m going to read it once, mostly likely, or, at most, three or so times over the course of years. In the meantime, it just takes up limited physical space and I read probably a novel a week (and often more).

The books I keep are ones not available as ebooks, photography or art books, and a bunch of gaming rulebooks or technical books in which it is much easier to reference things by flipping around.


We move every year for work related reasons, so in the last ten or so years, my collection is down to a few handyman books only. Instead we have a massive ebook collection instead. It’s a bit of a pity because I started my collection when I worked in a used book store as a teen, but I was surprised to find I don’t miss it. I have every book I could ever want to read in my ereader. If I can’t find an e-version, there’s always the library. If that fails, I buy the book, read it, then donate it to a library. It’s just easier to have less of a physical footprint when you move this often.


I was in a similar space: no way to show off and share ebooks like my physical library. That is why I built to be a free virtual bookshelf for ebooks to show off and share with feiwnds.


I just decided to re-read Dune, and to give another go at Stephenson’s Qucksilver etc., because if the Kindle hits me in the face it won’t hurt so much.