Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Of eBooks & Packing Boxes

Tamela Buhrke, book lover, finally succumbs...

I confess, six months ago I bought an iPad. I bought it because I was about to go on a cruise and needed something that could act as a computer while also providing me with hours of reading entertainment. As a lover of all things book, I didn’t think of the iPad as a replacement for my beloved paper bound books. It was merely a convenient way to travel.

Last month something happened that drastically changed my opinion. I know. I can actually feel you glaring at me, clutching at your signed copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Australian. I get it. I was you before my iPad. Most of all, I was you before I decided to move into a smaller home.

The Packing

I haven’t been writing much on the Chiseled in Rock lately because I spent the month of July packing, then moving and the early part of this month unpacking. My previous home totalled approximately 2600 square feet and I had decided to downsize to a place with 1800 square feet that I was now sharing with a roommate. I had books in nearly every room.

First, I sorted through all my books to weed out the ones that I could bear to let go. Two whole boxes went to the used book store. Then I happily bought small boxes for my books, knowing they would weigh too much if I put them in larger boxes. Packing the boxes was like reuniting with old friends. I cooed over this book and laughed at the memory of that series. I packed them in order by series. The boxes were arranged by category: humor, urban fantasy, various fiction, various nonfiction, business and cookbooks. They were lovingly stored in a place that would keep them dry—all twenty-five boxes of them.

The Move

Wow. Um. These boxes are heavy. I thought I packed them in small boxes. How many of them are there? I didn’t realize I had this many books. What? Oh, is that another box of books? Why do I have so many books? My back is killing me.

The Unpacking

Hmmm... where am I going to put these. Maybe we can squeeze the small glass bookcase into the kitchen by the sliding glass door. Yes, I do need all these cookbooks. I have food allergies. Can I put these picture books on the coffee table? It’s fashionable to put picture books on coffee tables. Okay, maybe twelve is too many. Do I really need all of these books on business? Half of them I've downloaded the updated versions to my computer through Kindle. I really want to keep the ones on gardening.

There really isn’t any room for a bookcase in my bedroom is there? Maybe I don’t need the dresser? Let’s take a look at these books and see if... well, this series wasn’t this authors best. Maybe I could take them to the used book store? I’ve started reading this series on my iPad. I already have two of them. How many books do I have on my iPad? Forty-eight. Wow. That would be two boxes of books and a small bookcase. My iPad weighs just under two pounds and fits in my purse.

Don’t unpack those five boxes. I’ve decided to take them to the used book store. Credit? No, I’ll take the cash.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. roll on the day when I get an ipad .. but I do love my books .. so many ideas starting out of the shelves .. books some ancient, some new .. beautiful and tattered .. memories and memories to be had .. now those aren't really available on an ipad?!

Cheers - but heavy boxes .. I took a lot to St Wilfrids' Hospice shop .. when I cleared my mother's flat out and my own house .. now I've reduced - but more to be done. Hilary

Giles Hash said...

I'm pretty much right there with you. I love my books, and I'm never going to get rid of them. But I just recently found three separate authors who have each written a dozen books. I want to read all of them, but I refuse to find space for three dozen books that I'll read once, maybe twice, and then just stick on a shelf. Physical books for me will be collectors items. Books that I want to hold on to because of the sentimental value. But as soon as I have the money for an ereader, I'm transitioning to ebooks. Until then, the library will have to fulfill my needs as far as books I want to read but never store.

Tamela Buhrke said...

Hi Hilary,
Actually, this is Tamela writing (Patricia posts on Tuesdays). I love books too. eBooks are just lighter and I find I buy more books because they are less expensive.

Hi Giles
I'm with you. I'll have a few book cases for collectible books, picture books, signed books and such. Of course, now you can even get your ebooks e-signed by an author.

Nathan Lowell said...

I made the shift to e- sometime ago.

Don't get me wrong. I like the feel and smell of books as much as the next guy. Maybe more.

But what I like more than books is stories.

Books are but the containers, the distribution medium by which stories are transferred from the mind of the author to my own. I've bought (and given away) thousands of them and I still own more than I can put on shelves.

More than that is the price. I'd much rather pay ebook prices for stories.

Yes, that means I'm reading a lot of indies. I'm not reading a lot of mainstream people. (I'm sorry. I'm not paying hardcover prices--or even paperback prices--for an ebook.)

You know what I've found? A whole world of stories that don't fit neatly into perfectly machined boxes. I'm discovering new writers who curl my toes, chill my bones, and challenge my notions.

And not one of them needs a half inch of shelf space.

Viva la e-volutoin!

Tamela Buhrke said...

YES VIVA la e-volution! Plus, what a wonderful way to support writing as an art form (What?! Get outta town! Who knew writing was an art?).

eBooks provide writers with the opportunity to earn a living while telling the tales that THEY want to tell. I've heard all the arguments about quality, but it's rare that people notice how it has opened the door to artistic stories that would never have made it in mass media.

There are wonderful stories that meet the needs of niche markets. Those stories can now easily be told and sold to those markets.

Good for you for supporting indie writers!

Marlena Cassidy said...

I had one of these when I moved and realized that aside from my bookcase, I have four piles of books almost as high as the bookcase sitting on the floor. But I really like my books and probably won't switch to an e-reader. The screens bug my eyes a little too much. But I'm glad you found a way to downsize and still enjoy reading!

Nathan Lowell said...

Marlena said:
" But I really like my books and probably won't switch to an e-reader. The screens bug my eyes a little too much. "

I hear a *lot* of people say that about ereaders before they have one. I'm still looking for the person who says it after.

And, wonder of wonders, while I actually do own both Nook and Kindle devices? I read mostly on my Blackberry phone's 2" screen.


Because I always have my library with me on my phone and I have to make room to carry either of the dedicated devices.

Go figger. :)

Dean K Miller said...

I weed through my books, give away the ones I know I can live without. But someday, all titles will be available as e-books right? The hard copies...isn't that what libraries and museums are for?

But then again, if I ever get one published, will it be the same to point at the screen and say "look, it's mine" versus holding it in my hands?

Nathan Lowell said...

Hm. Good question, Dean.

I know I like holding my own books in my hands, but I think that underscores the dichotomy between book-as-artifact and book-as-story.

I much prefer to read on e- but that doesn't remove my desire to own paper versions of prized artifacts of stories that hold significant emotional meaning.

There's a distinct dichotomy between those two ideas and one where I believe print, ink, and paper will thrive.

Watching how this shakes out in the next couple of years is going to be fascinating.