Archive for September 8th, 2008

Books aren’t furniture

Kat pointed to this article online concerning the growing popularity (FINALLY!) of e-books.  The title claims that books furnish a room.  The only people who can reasonably hold to that either own huge houses or relatively small libraries.  Books conquer a room, clutter it, and own it.  Were it up to the books, there would be no room for any other furniture, it would all be books. I have been going through a period of fall cleaning (yes I'm backwards--I have better uses for spring so fall picks up the slack).  As part of this, I'm culling my library.  I only have room for nine bookcases, and the books have overrun them utterly.  There are books in my headboard, books in the kitchen, books in my nightstand, books in my desk, books in my closets, books in my dresser, books on every table in the living room, books in the stereo cabinet, books piled on top of the book cases high enough in places to kiss the ceiling.  I have books in every room of the house except the bathroom--I worry the steam will warp them when I take a shower.  This is after I've destashed close to 100 books. This is a process of throwing out duplicate books, books I didn't care for, books that are outdated, books I've outgrown ("I Taught Myself to Knit" comes to mind for that, though it really is an excellent guide to teach yourself knitting), and books that have yellowed and dried so much that they are falling apart.  If I have more books than I need on a topic I keep the best and destash the rest.  I spent over 10 hours culling like this. This is something I'll never need to do for e-books.  I envy the generation that will grow up when this technology hit its maturity and all titles are available for all readers.  My Kindle and my Sony eReader can stand next to each other like one fat paperback (the Kindle) and one short magazine (the Sony).  Together, they hold over 200 books right now.  Both take SD cards.  I haven't managed to make a dent in the storage space of the cards, but I suspect they can hold about 1000 books per card.  I could store my entire library, thousands of titles, in one drawer of my desk.  These books won't decay or yellow.  They won't get lost on the shelves.  If I accentially delete one, both Amazon and Sony are perfectly willing to stream me a brand new set of those bits and bytes for free. I remember going to school carrying an 800 page hardcover art history book, a 600 page hardcover biology text, a 500 page hardcover math book, a 700 page hardcover history textbook, and a blessedly small penguin paperback novel for literature class.  I had loads like that starting in high school.  We're coming near an age when a student can carry all of that, plus a pleasure read or 100, plus an unabridged dictionary, a thesaurus, and an entire encyclopdia, along with a variety of ancillary texts in an 8 oz device about the size of a typical paperback (give or take depending on the device).  I have an unabridged copy of the Babylonian Talmud in my handbag.  It's keeping company with the complete works of Jane Austin. I used to worry about losing that old book smell, but I realized something while reading Neverwhere this morning.  When I'm reading I don't smell the book, I smell the sewage of London Below, or the acrid breath of the dragon, or the perfume of the princess, or the hot molten stench of the factory.  Readers let the words on the page overwhelm their senses, and for that e-books deliver just as well as paper books. I'm reading Neverwhere on the Kindle and loving every moment of it.  Sadly, I won't have as much reading time as I'd like this week.  I still have more "unfurnishing" to do.

4 comments September 8th, 2008


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