The Other Half is on a decluttering binge, inspired by the fact that he can never find what he is looking for when he is looking for it. I think this is not due to having too much stuff, just not organising the stuff one has in a smart way. Whatever it is, seems like we’re dedicating some serious time this year to decluttering.
His decluttering binge has been somewhat interrupted by the arrival of my Aunt and increased hours for me at my work. If my Aunt and I have the day off, we want to go out walking if the weather is good, which it has been. You see at the top of this post a photo of the stunning Jervis Bay on a recent walk we did. But even so we are Getting Shiznit Done here at home.
A few rooms of the house have been tackled, but one room needs a LOT of work and that is my Book Room, which also became the dumping ground for anything else that did not have a home. Before I take on this task head on, I need to make some decisions.
The Problem – E-books VS Physical Books.
I like to read before I go to sleep. I have a lot of physical books. Over 300 at last count, some of which I have owned for 20 years or more. They have travelled from house to house with us as we lived life. They have been good friends, there when I needed them. Which makes the decision to let them go quite difficult and I have never been able to manage it.
Sure, sometimes I have done a small book declutter and let books I was no longer interested in reading go. I would always take them to the second hand book store for credit, where I could get secondhand books with that credit. This is really no longer an option I am interested in, because I do not want more second hand books.
The reason why I do not want more second hand books is simple. Over the years I have mostly switched to reading on my Samsung tablet for many reasons. Here are some of them –
1. I don’t have to have a light on when I read because the tablet lights up.
2. No page turning = complete silence so The Other Half can sleep.
3. I can store a lot of books on my tablet and take them everywhere I go.
4. There are a lot of older books available for free via various sites – Project Gutenberg is the one I use most.
5. E-books cannot collect dust or take up room in the house.
Click on this photo for a larger view
6. Some e-book readers will keep a record of when you read an e-book, how long you have spent reading it, and it even works out how many words a minute. Mine has the Recent shelf, where it stores the most recent reads in the order I read them – or did not read them, if I was looking for a new read and then decided to look for another book. Those show up with 0 hours in the time spent reading.
I know a lot of people have not made this switch to e-books yet, but I am telling you it is awesomeness wrapped up in a nice neat tablet bow. I don’t miss physical books. Especially not on a cold night when I only need one hand available to tap the screen to turn the page.
I would read a physical book once every 6 months or so these days, but I mostly read them during the day rather than before bedtime. I have collected a lot of e-books over the years and my collection now contains nearly 12,000 books though some of these are the same title just in different formats – epub & mobi mostly.
I don’t carry them all on my tablet, I have narrowed that down to a select few, just under 4,000 books there which is nearly 4gb of data. I add in new folders every few months or so. Can you imagine trying to carry 4,000 actual books around?
The next logical step in my life is to decide – do I want to keep physical copies of the books I have? If yes, do I want to box them up away from the elements so I could get them out never? If I am doing that, what exactly is the point of that? Would it be better to take some to the second hand book store so they can find new owners who will love them as much as I did/do? Donate some? Try to sell them online? I can use that money to buy digital copies of books.
Do I want to try and find digital copies of my entire library? There are some books I have which I would really love to own digitally, especially the very heavy ones. I have been slowly adding these books to my digital collection over time, one author at a time. For example I have a collection of Arthur Hailey books which I want on my tablet. They are available, I just have to buy them.
I guess what annoys me about this is, I already own these books. I just need them in the digital format. While I have no problem buying them again, it seems a bit unfair especially when I paid $25-40 for some books I own. I think there should be a scheme of some sort where you pay a lesser cost for the digital book if you already own it, and then you can return the book to the seller so they can sell it as a second hand book. Maybe there is such a scheme, does anyone know of one?
If I am going to buy digital copies is it worth joining something like Amazon Prime, do I get a discount if I buy them that way, are there other digital book services I should consider?
But then some of my books are not available digitally, so if I want to be able to read them again I will have to have a small bookshelf somewhere in the house.
The Current Plan –
I have a lot of questions without much in the way of answers as yet, so I think I will begin by sorting my books into – books I own digitally, and books I do not own digitally, and then decide what to do with the physical books that I have digitally.
I’m using my Timer to set 25 minute sessions, playing some of our great new techno/trance playlist, bopping along cleaning and sorting. I am finding if I do one timer session a day they do add up and I can get a lot done but in small, non-annoying chunks. Before I could even tackle the books I had to clean much junk out of this room and sort through all the Avon and various bits and pieces. I’m now ready to jump head on into this task.
I never thought I would want to let go of my physical books. Ever since I was little books have been a touch stone for me, a way to escape the present and visit other worlds in my mind. However it seems nonsensical to keep so many books when it is unlikely I will ever read them again in that format. The tablet is so much more convenient, I do have multiple backups of these books in case anything happens to the files, and I am feeling ready to say goodbye.