In Part 1 of this topic, I talked about how moving overseas (and being separated from my favorite tomes) made me a huge fan of ebooks.
Even before I moved, however, I was growing weary of physical books. I didn’t like how everything I read seemed to stick around on my bookshelf. Consequently, I committed to get rid of (resell, pass on, or donate) books directly after I’d finished them. I’m a fast reader, though, so in many cases books would leave my house just a day or two after I purchased them! That didn’t feel quite right either.
To compound the problem, the town I lived in (before moving to the UK) was NOT part of the county’s library system (!). Therefore, borrowing a book from the library involved borrowing a friend or relative’s library card, and going to their town to browse the stacks. (And being particularly diligent about returning books on time, lest they incur late fees!) Oftentimes, it seemed more trouble than it was worth.
Unfortunately, these two factors greatly curtailed my reading. There were plenty of new, nonfiction titles I wanted to read, but instead I made do with what I could read online at Project Gutenberg. I simply didn’t want to own any more books, or go through the hassle of acquiring, then reselling or donating them.
Therefore, I was thrilled when Amazon released the Kindle-for-PC reader last fall. I downloaded it the day it came out, purchased a few titles I’d been longing to read, and felt like I was in touch with the literary world again!
Mostly, however, I wanted to be able to read ebooks while traveling. I often take long flights and train rides, and relish those hours of uninterrupted reading time. But I travel carryon only, so the weight and volume of books always presented a problem. The titles I took on a trip would be determined by page count and font density (in an effort to find the longest, yet lightest-weight book), rather than what I really wanted to read. (Although, as a result, I became quite well-read in Russian classics!)
I considered purchasing a Kindle or Sony Reader, but didn’t want to carry yet another electronic device. I always take my iPod on the road, so decided to replace my Nano with a Touch—that way, I could have just one device for both music and books. I downloaded the apps for Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and general reading, and it’s worked out beautifully; I can read on the Touch for hours with no problem, and it’s much smaller and lighter than a dedicated ereader. Better yet, it’s always with me: so I can read on the bus, on the subway, while waiting for appointments, etc. I even curl up in bed with it at night!
Going forth, my goal is to purchase as few physical books as possible. I plan to use a combination of the library (to which I now have access!) and ebooks for all my literary needs. In the future, I’d love to see the following:
1. Lower prices on ebooks, given the absence of manufacturing and distribution costs.
2. The ability to borrow ebooks from the library.
3. A secondhand (“used”) market for ebooks, which would allow me to sell my “ownership” of one to someone else, at a reduced price.
4. The ability to share or trade the ebooks I own with friends and family.
5. Ereaders that can display color photographs and pictures, so that art, architecture, and other graphic-intensive books can be read digitally.
That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?
Anyway, I love how technology is making it easier (and more fun!) to be a minimalist—and I’m looking forward to what the future holds!