In response to my post on Printing to PDF, Stuart brought up the subject of ebooks. Oh Stuart, you had to get me started… I know this is a controversial topic here, and some of you fundamentally disagree with my opinion. But it’s an issue near and dear to my heart, and I just can’t refrain from pontificating on it. :-)
I have a love/hate relationship with books. I love the content, but I hate the physical format. It’s not that I don’t like to hold a book in my hands while reading it; I don’t mind that at all, and in fact, sometimes relish the tactile experience of diving into its pages.
However, that same physicality (the covers, the binding, the hundreds of pages—and the resulting weight) is what’s currently separating me from my collection! The fact that I can’t enjoy my favorite books, because they’re too heavy, unwieldy, and expensive to ship, is what gets my knickers in a twist.
Before I moved overseas, I culled my library to roughly thirty books. These are the tomes with which I’m loath to part. They’re primarily non-fiction, covering topics like art, architecture, philosophy, travel, history, cultural studies, and writing. I wish I could invoke my minimalist superpowers and simply let them go; but for the most part, they would be difficult, if not impossible (some are out of print), to obtain again if I so desired.
Now, I’d have no problem giving them up, if I could simply nip down to the library when I had the need to consult one. But unfortunately, only two were available from my local library system (one through Interlibrary Loan) the last time I checked.
(Fortunately, fiction does not pose such a problem for me. What I read generally falls in the Great Classics of Literature category, and many of my favorites are in the public domain. They’re readily available in libraries, from bookstores, and on the internet. Therefore, I don’t feel the need to own them in order to secure future access to them.)
So, out of my thirty books, only four currently reside with me (the most I could fit in my duffel bag when I moved). I’d intended to have the rest shipped over once we were settled. But I’ve come to realize that when living abroad on a visa, you’re never really settled (and for the record, I don’t consider that a bad thing). However, I’m reluctant to pay big bucks to transport them over here (the Post Office no longer offers the cost-effective International Media Mail), only to have to drag them around the next time we move.
Ebooks, then, are the answer to my minimalist prayers—well, theoretically. If I could replace every book in my “permanent” collection with a digital version, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, however, only a handful are currently available in electronic form. Amazon has an “I’d like to read this on Kindle” button on each book’s product page, that sends the request to the publisher. I’ve been clicking that link like mad for the books in question, with the hope that someday I’ll be (digitally) reunited with my beloved volumes.
Wow–this post is getting too long, and I’ve barely begun to wax poetic on the wonders of ebooks and how they’ve changed my reading habits. I think I’ll call this Part 1, and continue my discourse (I told you not to get me started!) in my next post…
As always, comments (both for and against ebooks) are welcome. This is one of my favorite topics, and I love hearing everyone’s opinions!