Update 12: Books a Million

FYI: I think soon I will drop the update numbers.  I plan, hopefully, many updates as I approach the school year and into the school year.

As two academics, we have a lot of books in our house.  Plus our kids have a lot of books.  We generally like them.  But we’re running out of space to keep.  Frankly, many of the books we have are not ones we need or want to keep.  But there’s that whole social thing about books–you know, it’s like decor.  It says something about who you are.  Which would be true for us except none of our books are in places that any guest can see.  So I’ve been purging.  I posted a few on Paperback Swap.  I sold a couple on Ebay, where the money went directly to my walk.  And now I have a few listed on Half.com.  I think I’m going to list another stack on Ebay before moving it over to Half.com.  I need to do more purging.

Because we don’t have a lot of space but because we really like books, I’ve been considering an e-reader.  I have issues with all of them.  With my physical books at least, I can give away or sell my books when I’m done with them.  Granted, I’m not going to make a ton of money (and that’s not the goal in getting rid of books for most people), but I can do with them what I want when I’m done reading them.  I often give good books to friends or family.  With e-books, that’s not possible.  The Nook, Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, however, is testing out a loan program.  Of course, your friend has to have a Nook.  I don’t know anyone with a Nook.  I probably buy as many books at the physical book stores around town as I do through Amazon, so I kind of hate the idea that I’d be tied to a particular retailer.  What if a book I want isn’t available via whichever e-reader I’ve committed to?  I have a tendency to go with the underdog, but how much would it suck if the e-reader service went belly up.  I’d have a $200 paperweight.

And then there’s the iPad option, which I’m even less fond of.  Mr. Geeky has one and I’ve played with it.  While it’s certainly slick, I can’t imagine using it primarily as an e-reader.  Each book is an app.  The whole page turning thing is just a little too fancy.  And I already have an iPhone.  Who needs a larger version?  I have a laptop and a desktop.  I just can’t see that an iPad would do anything that I can’t currently do with one of those.  And as a reader, bleh.

Still, I might invest in one soon.  Something about going through all these books physically has made me tired of having them around.

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9 Replies to “Update 12: Books a Million”

  1. We have a small space, and I don’t keep many (grown-up) books at all because of it. I’m sure you’ve read Freakonomics, about how how many books in a home is a big indicator of how much a kid will read, and that chapter always fills me with a little guilt, and a lot of questions. For instance, I don’t keep a lot of books, but I don’t BUY a lot of books — I use the library. My girls, though, have tons of books. Hundreds, so many that preschool asked to borrow any books I had on their topic this week (Maine) because it’s apparently evident that We Have Books. As far as tech, if you’re looking for JUST an e-reader, I would totally go for the new $139 Kindle without 3G. I have a first gen Kindle and because I am never very far from wireless, I would never have noticed the loss of the 3G. In fact, I’d have preferred the wifi model because our whispernet access is so shoddy up here….

  2. We’ve gone through the same thing. We have a lot of books. When I ran out of space after doubling up on the bookcases, I decided enough was enough.

    I’ve taken several boxes recently to the library. They take donations, and if they can’t use them they sell them at their (massive) yearly sale.

    Really, every book isn’t worth owning. Some books are clearly one time reads. Some books were important once, but aren’t anymore. Some books are convenient to have around at certain times (say through a child’s high school years), but not so important past that time.

  3. I’ve been considering an e-Reader as well. Our concern though is that we get 90% of the books we read from the library. Suddenly paying $100/month for e-books seems insane. I did some checking and the library in the next county over has free e-books for download (although the titles are never recent). For $25/year we can get access to their collection, which I assume will keep growing. I think we’re probably going to wait until the e-readers producers, libraries and publishers all come up with a good business model that will give us access to new releases at a low cost. Right now our library membership is free. I’d be willing to pay $100-200 per year if I could get unlimited access to current e-books.

    Also – my opinion is that the Kindle is the best reader out there but they don’t support e-books from sites other than Amazon. The Nook and Sony’s Ereader do.

  4. We just had this conversation this morning, along the lines of, does husband really need to keep the complex analysis book that he has from undergraduate college (25 years and a law degree ago)? My view is that books are just too big and heavy to be kept as scrapbook items without through weeding.

    But, then, you get into the conversation of whether I need to keep my college biochemistry book because I might want to use it to explain the krebs cycle to my kid. And, you know, writing that down made me realize that I don’t. I’d look up the cycle on the internet, and though the description in the textbook might be nice, the liklihood that I’ll hunt down the book wherever it might be stored rather than looking it up on the iPad is nil.

    Re iPad — you don’t need to have book “apps” — Kindle books can be read on the iPad, and Apple has its “iBook” store. I’ve bought a few, though the inability to give them away/share them with others has highly limited my willingness to purchase. I expect most books I get to be shared with someone, if not my family, then with strangers who get them when I give them away.

  5. I am also staring at all these books (and I gave away 2 carloads last summer!) and considering an e-reader just for space reasons.

    I need to book-purge again, but I also need to clothes purge, so that’s taking priority right now…..

  6. @BJ — I just went through my shelves with the same lens. The Harvard Family Health Guide? Why do I still have that when I have WebMD (and beyond?) or a dictionary… it seems odd to be storing a dictionary that I’ve carried since college, but haven’t looked in in at least 10 years. Minimum.

  7. I really, really need to do a book purge, as we have run out of bookshelf space AND places to put more bookshelves! We have most of our books on shelves in our front living room, which is where our piano is and also the first room you come to as you enter the house, and I have to admit I love having that be the first impression our guests get. However, there are books on our shelves that don’t need to be there, and I’m desperately hoping to get around to doing that before the school year starts in earnest.

  8. I’m getting ready to do a big book purge myself, because I’ve lost my attachment to the sideways titles as signals to myself. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that I can’t even remember about 25% of the contents of the books I thought were so important to keep.

    I warmed up to my Kindle very, very slowly. I hated spending money and not having a physical object in return. Now I love it. I can easily buy a whole bunch of trash-level books (Georgette Heyer, anyone?), or the latest much-discussed non-fiction book with no trouble, and no storage issues. I get all my book-club books on the Kindle now.

    I WISH I were the sort of person who relied on the library more. I’m there all the time with the kids. But I’ve borrowed too many books at the library, never read them, and returned them to believe that I’m going to change. For whatever reason, library novels just don’t work for me. (FWIW, I think it’s something about the pressure of, you’ve committed to reading this book NOW. I’m not saying it’s rational.) In the absence of being a library person, the Kindle fits my lifestyle right now.

    I would choose the Kindle over the other e-readers because if you decide later to go with a different platform, Amazon is pretty likely to develop an app for that platform that will allow you to migrate all your books. I’m not sure about the dedicated-ereader versus all-purpose tablet debate. Spouse has an iPad and it’s not really the best reading device for me. But he loves it.

  9. I have a Nook, and like many of you, I researched the Kinde, Kobe, and iPad, before I settled on the Nook. The deal maker for me was being able to check books out from the library. Like the other commenters above, space is an issue, and not every book is worth buying. My purpose was therefore, to use the library for both print and electronic formats to the hilt, and purchase books that I know I’ll repeat read in e-form. Unfortunately, Rowling is mightily opposed to e-formats, but the Percy Jackson series, among others, is available as e-books.

    The other important point for me was that the Nook runs on Droid, and developers are slowly beginning to work with it, so apps in he future are a likely possibility.

    Also, the Nook supports more formats than the Kindle does, and given that I’m headed back to school, I figured I’d have the one device that would carry my light reading, journal articles, and my knitting patterns all in one place. Don’t think the Kindle can handle that.

    Last but not least, a free book every Friday!

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