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Old 11-08-2006, 08:59 AM   #1
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Why keep digital books?

Hey folks,

About two months ago, I moved from Boston to Houston. With the help of a personal organizer, we managed to pare down quite a bit of our personal belongings. Remember, less weight means less money when it comes to moving.

The personal organizer is a good friend of mine and we spoke one day about all the books we owned and whether to donate them. We got around to talking about why people kept books?

She mentioned several reasons, but two stuck out with me:

1. We like to display our knowledge to others.
2. We're enamored of the look of books -- the different colors, the sizes, etc.

I can't say those reasons are good enough for everyone, but I see what she was getting at.

But both reasons become null-and-void with a digital reading device. You can't really display the amount of books you've read and all books look the same.

Still we tout the ability to keep several books with you as a good reason to have a digital reading device.

I'm curious: Why keep digital books at all?

Why do you do it?
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Old 11-08-2006, 09:33 AM   #2
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Personally, over the years, I collected large amount of e-books. And why I'm keeping them all? Because I want to return to some of them from time to time, it's good source of knowledge (even though only a small part of them are educational books) and why not keep them all if it cost only few hundreds of megabytes? I can always carry my entire e-library with me on a single memory card! I just moved to another house and the weight of crates with all my printed books almost killed me! I still feel them in my back! And although I still purchase printed books, I preserve only the best of them and my main library is now e-library
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcv
Hey folks,

I'm curious: Why keep digital books at all?

Why do you do it?

I never buy a book whether print or digital, that I do not think I want to reread. For books I plan to read only once, there is the library or bookstore browsing since I am a pretty fast reader. Now I buy many books, so it is unlikely I am going to reread all and I donate ocasionally some that I think I am done with, but overall, I reread partially at least, a large percentage of my books.

It makes no difference if it's print or digital, a book is a book, not a disposable magazine or newspaper.

Liviu
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:14 AM   #4
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Unfortunately, conversion to e-books is probably not a real possibility for me. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of books in my garage, plus many bookshelves at home. I'm overrun with them. Even if DRM issues get worked out, I realize I probably won't be able to replace them with e-books in my lifetime (too much to scan and not popular titles in general, so unlikely they will be available in e-book form). Actually, very few people have bookshelves only filled with popular books available in e-book form, so it's probably a common situation.

To go all digital, the technology would also need to improve also, because I only find ebooks useful for quick reference (like encyclopedias) or front-to-back reading (like works so well on the Sony Reader). For many other books I want to jump around in quickly. Even sometimes with novels (e.g. if I revisit them).

Are e-books really preferable? Yes! I just turned down an overflowing pickup truckload of books from a friend. I really wanted them. The only thing that made me turn them down was storage issues. If they were e-books, I would have joyfully accepted them. Of course, if they were e-books without storage issues, he also would have wanted to keep them!

In this day and age with e-books (and even with paper books), we have personal libararies that can probably outshine the libraries of royalty in the past centuries. So much is readily available. I think that's one of the reasons pbook storage is such a big issue. We want and even expect to be able to collect a full library. With Project Gutenberg and others, it's no big deal for an individual to do that.

As far as books I've read, I do like to have them stay available. For paper I want to be able to give good ones away. For e-books, I just want to be able to go back and remember it, even if it's just glancing and skimming it for nostalgic reasons.
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liviu_5
It makes no difference if it's print or digital, a book is a book, not a disposable magazine or newspaper.
Ah-ha. I am curious: Why is it not disposable?
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liviu_5
It makes no difference if it's print or digital, a book is a book, not a disposable magazine or newspaper.
I re-read magazines (the ones I subscribe to), so they aren't disposable, either.

I agree, I re-read a lot of the books and other material I own. Sometimes if I'm not sure whether or not I'd like a new book, I read it at the library first, or read a chapter or so in a store, then buy it or not depending on how well I like it.

We also recently moved, and gave away a lot of books. I think we gave away 7 boxes, and that was about 1/3 of the fiction. But that didn't count the 5 boxes of non-fiction that I "avoided" moving by moving them to my work office first.

If all the books had been eBooks, I probably wouldn't have given any of them away, but I'm not sure I'd have had so many of them in the first place, because a lot of them were books given to me by someone else who was giving away books to solve a storage problem. So the lack of storage convenience has worked in my favor as well as against me.

It would make it easier to find books (or specific passages in books) inmy collection if I could just search digitally, though.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell
Unfortunately, conversion to e-books is probably not a real possibility for me. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of books in my garage, plus many bookshelves at home. I'm overrun with them. Even if DRM issues get worked out, I realize I probably won't be able to replace them with e-books in my lifetime (too much to scan and not popular titles in general, so unlikely they will be available in e-book form). Actually, very few people have bookshelves only filled with popular books available in e-book form, so it's probably a common situation...

.
Now now Bob! I'm sure there is someone like me in your neighbourhood who can help you with such a problem!

There is still room, before readers become interactive, for good dictionnaries and encyclopediae!

There is sharing of books in my family, but Alas! The ghost of DRM lurks about!
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:45 AM   #8
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We finally ran out of room in our home, so my wife is now part of a book-swap group (bookins.com). That has saved us a TON of space and money. I don't see an ebook equivalent coming anytime soon, given the DRM issues.

In any case, I keep books to re-read. I can't say I display them for any reason, because I am a slob who has to go digging for books when I want one, and I generally avoid allowing people to see into my stacks (literally -- not a library term) of books. Admittedly, with the space shortage, and the cost of books, most of my reading is web-published stuff these days.

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Old 11-08-2006, 01:17 PM   #9
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You can be surprised at what a clever cabinet maker can come up with. If he's been trained around boats or RVs where space is at a premium, there are proven ways of doing things, even hanging stuff from the ceiling!
There is a good coffe table book, the kind we're not going to see on a reader soon, called "Living with books"(if I remember correctly) by Alan Powers, Octopus Publishings 1999 GB. It is chock full of ideas and has a section for beginning "doityourselfers".
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Old 11-08-2006, 01:52 PM   #10
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Interesting book, Yvan. Seems to have a Google preview here:
http://books.google.com/books?vid=IS...22+alan+powers

Top to bottom, full wall built-in shelving is what I dream of.
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Old 11-08-2006, 02:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcv
I'm curious: Why keep digital books at all?

Why do you do it?
(Blast it....lurk mode off....first time too....)

Why? In my case because books and magazines are to easy to lose. They can be lost to accident, misplacement, wear or need. The last major loss for me was due to need.

Due to a lifestyle change I had to get rid of most of the things I had collected. Some were sold, some were given away, some small amount stored. The most painful thing was the book situation. Three pickup loads of them that didn't get stored (mostly paperbacks and reference). Bookstores wouldn't take them, charity orgs didn't want them, libraries couldn't have them without approval. Since this was before the network neighborhood of the internet today there was only one option left.

Three truckloads of books into the county landfill. (It still twinges me thinking about it 15 years later.) Most of which are hard or impossible to find now. Sometimes I will find myself looking for a book I know I have, I remember having read it, and then it strikes me that it was one of those left to burn all those years ago.

Now? Books are still a part of my life and slowly becoming a large part again (just picked up 4 hardbacks this week alone) but space is always a premium. Not all of us have large rooms (or even small rooms) to devote to the space books can take up and so we have to be more particular than we like.

Digital solves most of that situation. They take up basically no room, can be safeguarded onto a small medium for storage or transport (try and do that with 12 bookcases), are almost always available (in todays generally industrialized world) and because one of the greatest problem with physical books (space used) is not present there is no need to get rid of older volumes due to moving or just to make way for newer volumes. This means that chances are good that if you remember reading it earlier, you still have it available to use as reference or read again.

But then, this type of reason also is only of primary concern to those who view the book as a carrier of information and entertainment and not as a decoration or "occasional event" (as in "I just read a good book over the last couple months").

Physical books still find their way onto the shelves of the bookcase at home but thanks to the non-physical format I can be more selective about which ones are good enough to take up the space while maintaining a horribly decadent reading volume, a huge library readily available for entertainment and education, and the ability to take almost all of it with me from now on.

Or we can use the answer one of the kids gave me when they came over to read: "Why not keep them? It's not like they got to be dusted."
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Old 11-08-2006, 02:45 PM   #12
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With my wife finishing her PhD in 19th century British Literature (she has >100 Library books at the moment) and the fact that I'm both a big reader and a congenital pack-rat, I'm looking at putting high-density shelving in a room, once we have a house rather than an apartment, just to handle the books!

I only have about 1/3~1/2 of my books in the apartment (the rest are in storage), so we're in a bad way come move time. I'm going to have a very interested look at that book you mentioned, yvanleterrible, and I may have to give you a call when it comes time to do those HD shelves.

I'm thinking of a design where the shelves would slide out from one in of the room like drawers in a giant chest of drawers laid on its side, wall to wall, floor to ceiling. The weight alone frightens me.
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Old 11-08-2006, 02:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcv
Ah-ha. I am curious: Why is it not disposable?
I keep fiction magazines too so when I refered to magazines, I meant newsmagazines and newspapers which I consider by and large disposable (and I subscribe to several).
I do not buy books that I do not plan to reread so in that sense I do not consider books disposable. I have books both e and p written 2000+ years ago that I still enjoy, and books published 50 or more years ago (talking about my print edition) that I still enjoy.

Liviu
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Old 11-08-2006, 03:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
With my wife finishing her PhD in 19th century British Literature (she has >100 Library books at the moment) and the fact that I'm both a big reader and a congenital pack-rat, I'm looking at putting high-density shelving in a room, once we have a house rather than an apartment, just to handle the books!

I only have about 1/3~1/2 of my books in the apartment (the rest are in storage), so we're in a bad way come move time. I'm going to have a very interested look at that book you mentioned, yvanleterrible, and I may have to give you a call when it comes time to do those HD shelves.

I'm thinking of a design where the shelves would slide out from one in of the room like drawers in a giant chest of drawers laid on its side, wall to wall, floor to ceiling. The weight alone frightens me.
Only thing that lasts for shelves is 1 1/4" solid hardwood.
My next library will have closing glass panneled doors. Dust mixed with greasy kitchen fumes creates a mess on top of books. When I get my daughter's former room redone, I'll make about 20feet of it
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Old 11-08-2006, 03:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Top to bottom, full wall built-in shelving is what I dream of.
"You idiot! That's a load-bearing encyclopedia!"
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