Do You Need Paper Books Anymore?

kidbooks2

This is the second (first: your wardrobe) in a series of post to help you declutter areas of your home and life in 2012.  More posts coming up on housewares and hobbies.

When wireless Internet first arrived I thought it was a silly fad. Like video games in the 1980’s.

I thought, why would anyone want to be on the Internet out in public or away from their computer? The spell of being connected hadn’t grabbed me yet. At the time I had a cell phone I barely used and a Hotmail address. I had a heavy second hand laptop that couldn’t connect to the Internet. If I wanted to check my email I visited a friend’s house or the library.

Obviously I know very little about trends and what people want.

But I’m starting to keep my mind and eyes open more when I read that the world is changing. I’m starting to believe that, while we might not be wearing jet-packs to get around, life in 20 years and particularly the way we communicate and receive news and entertainment, will be vastly different than my youth. This isn’t so hard to believe. I mean, I haven’t used a rotary telephone in two decades.

Here’s a trend that isn’t going away and that you shouldn’t ignore: books are going digital.

Books will eventually be solely published digitally for viewing on computers, handheld devices and other nifty reading gadgets yet to be invented. Traditional paper books are going the way of the dinosaur. Or, more accurately, publishing is facing the same radical change the music industry has been dealing with since Napster arrived.

Our world is changing at a rapid pace and bookshelves may one day be obsolete in most homes. Your child may one day receive all of their text books via a tablet computer. Visiting the bookstore may mean visiting something dot com. Brick and mortar libraries will shrink and be replaced with online lending libraries.

I’m not writing this to make you sad or nostalgic for your sixth grade Social Studies text books. But I am writing this to get you thinking about your book collection, how you buy books and, if you have children, how their reading experience will be different than your own.

Your children will not be illiterate if you get rid of a lot of your books. Books on the shelves don’t make a reader. Reading makes a readers.

We sold most of our books during our massive home purge in 2010. What stayed, and has traveled over with us to the UK, is a small collection of  a dozen books. Books that we will read again or we have a lot of emotional attachments to. My husband proposed with a book so, yes, I kept that one.

Twelve books but we still read a lot. I have a subscription to the New York Times online and read it 20-30 minutes a day. I read four books in December, three on my Kindle and one that was loaned to me in hard copy.

Henry has roughly 50 books. About half of them are board books and the other half hard backs.

Our son still has traditional books. We will continue to borrow paper books for him at the library, occasionally buy paper books for him as gifts and continue to accept paper books from family. I’m not giving my two year old a Kindle to read from.

This is not a call to sell or donate your entire library. Rather, examine what you have, think about why you have it and determine if there are some hard copy books you are ready to let go of.

When I declutter I like to think about why I have kept the items. Here are some questions to ask yourself about the books you own.

Are you keeping books because:

  • they look pretty on a shelf
  • you like what they say about you
  • you have memories attached to them
  • you loan them out to friends
  • you will read them again
  • you love dusting (crazy, and you can visit my home anytime)

Paring down your home library is a good way to not only reduce clutter but also to really SEE what books you have. Take some time to review all your favourites, make a list of those you want to read again this year and then, donate what you don’t want  to your local library, charity shop or sell them to a second hand bookstore.

So often bookshelves just blend into a room’s decor and rather than seeing the entertainment and educational possibilities of them, we just see a long line of books to dust. Sure, books can be nice accent pieces for a room but they are meant to be loved and read. So read them, love them, loan them out or get rid of them.

Has anyone else downsized your library in the last year? Any regrets or are you happy with the tidy shelves? PS. You can see a great photo of a small library here at Small Notebook.

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    • Hi Faun – did you read my entire post? The title is supposed to be a bit of fun and I am in no way advocating leveling the home library or even saying that there will be no paper books in the near future.

      That said, with 3 million Kindles sold in the US in the lead up to Christmas and more libraries offering digital loaning services, I don’t think we can ignore that the digital book format.

      – R

      • I seem to be living the same life as you, sort of. I’m a Canadian expat in Dubai, and I accidentally discovered the joy of minimalism (including a minimalist library) when we moved. I identified with this post as I previously had over 1000 adult paperbacks and 1000 children’s books and novels. We got rid of nearly every book. I thought this would bother me because I liked what books said about me.. to myself. I grew up with the label of bookworm and I thought by letting go of the physical books that I would be symbolically letting go of that part of myself. I prided myself on my home library. It was painful for me to let them go, but after they were gone I realized that physically possessing the book wasn’t important. I still read as much as I used to using my kindle. My children still read, my husband still reads. But now we don’t have hundreds of pounds of paper and 8 bookshelves taking up space and collecting debris. Its liberating.

    • I’ll list them here soon. Yes, the overseas move really helped. Also, I lost the panic to hold onto a few that I will read again. The library can store all those Douglas Couplan books until I want to read them again :)

  • A few years ago, I got rid of hundreds of books. I really liked what they said about me–made me feel like I looked smart and well-educated. Then I realized I didn’t need them to look smart. I’m that way whether I have loads of paper cluttering my house or not.

    I don’t think librarians, or anyone for that matter, have the monopoly on authority over the debate on digital vs. paper books. I’m a voracious reader and have welcomed the digital age. And I’m so grateful for e-lending from the library! But there are times when I purchase the physical tome for reference. And I much prefer printed cookbooks.

  • A week or so ago I got rid of s lot of books. I don’t miss them. I usually only read a book once so why keep it. I donated them to book sales at the local library. I went from 10 shelves to 3. I use a kindle or the library for most of my reading needs.

  • I am an avid book reader and I am loving my Kindle. I plan on moving all of my books to digital format. With that being said, my mom is not tech savvy and will continue to read her paperback books. I simply do not enjoy the physical space that the paperback or hardback books need to maintain. I am really hoping I can move mom to a Kindle at some point in the future. We can still share books but I won’t have to worry about carrying them around or boxing them up when she moves.

    • We purchased a Kindle for my mother-in-law a few years ago but she hasn’t quite taken to it. I think we needed to spend some time showing here how to use it. Make sure you give your mom a good tutorial on how to read and download books if you get her a Kindle. Good luck :)

  • We have turned almost all of our paperbacks over to the paperback swap website. But, as a homeschool mom, I’m trading them for curriculum. :) I have the original Nook, and am contemplating which tablet to purchase so I can pull the Kindle books off the computer and the Nook books into one place. However, for younger children, I don’t know that I’m ready to hand a tablet over to them to read either, so I’m still gathering curriculum in hard copy for them to read! So it’s 2nd hand books or the library for us!

    • I JUST discovered that website (paperback swap) this week and already have swapped almost a dozen books! I’m exchanging books I’ve read for books for my 2 year olds library. We’re starting on the homeschool path as well, so it’ll be interesting to see when the curriculum going digital makes the most sense for this generation of homeschoolers. I finished up my homeschooling years (Graduated in 2001 from HS) with switched on schoolhouse, so that was all computerized, it’ll be interesting to see where we’ll be when our kids graduate.

  • So if those of us with kindles couldn’t access their kindle books once they have been read, let’s say there was an autodelete after 30 days, would we be upset?
    Is it the physical presence/absence of a library of real books which matters?

  • We are avid readers, but own VERY few books. We don’t have the space in our home, and I don’t see the point in keeping something that I will only want to read once. My collection is now limited to a few favorites that I love to read again and again (like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Thankfully we have wonderful libraries available to us. My husband always has a different book to read at bedtime, and he borrows stacks of storybooks to read to our son. I don’t have the time to read like I used to, but I enjoy reading books on my iPad when I have the chance. I know people who seem to equate vast personal libraries with intellect, and I just don’t get it. To each his own, though. I am perfectly happy owning as few books as possible.

    • “I know people who seem to equate vast personal libraries with intellect, and I just don’t get it.”

      This. And at one point I was that person. I loved having my books lined up, anthologies from university, my Douglas Coupland collection, not to read them again but to tell people, look at what I read.

      A silver lining to getting rid of a lot of our possessions has been the loss of ego surrounding them. I’m less concerned about impressing people with what we have and what I think it says about me. And I don’t care to be friends with people that judge me on what we own.

        • Jen – I’ve had this question before and it’s difficult to answer. We’ve had a lot of life change in the last two years. I started my radical decluttering just as most of my mom friends were heading back to work from maternity leave. So it was quite natural that I didn’t see many of those friends as often. And then we moved overseas about six months after that.

          My very close friends, the ones I’ve had for over 15 years, are still around (meaning we email and talk on Skype).

          Has it made for awkward conversations? Yes. Have people made jokes about our lifestyle? Yes. But I’ve tried to laugh any of the hurtful comments off and be sensitive when it comes up in conversation with others.

  • If only my parents could abide by these rules!! They have half a dozen PACKED bookshelves, and my mom just keeps buying books. They have yet to venture to kindles or nooks, but I hope they do. Heck, there’s even a bookcase in their garage that I can assure you my dad hasn’t touched a single book in the 23 years they lived in that house.

    I think my parents’ book hoarding makes me 1. dislike reading and 2. vow to rarely, if ever, keep books. Really, who reads books over and over and over again? Thank goodness for libraries!

    • I’ve been reading on your website every morning for several days. When I came across your comment here about your parents packed bookshelves it was another “wow moment” for me, because I realized that is one of the main reasons that I too am paring down everything we own (that my parents are hoarders). Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re NOT “nasty hoarders” like those shows on tv (gross stuff that neither they nor I can even stand to watch), but their home and several outbuildings are packed with stuff. I know that someday my siblings and I will have to go through all of their stuff and it will be draining on time and energy for all of us. I love my parents to death, so I’m not saying any of this is a derogatory or disrespectful way. I’m just saying that I know my kids (all grown and gone) will not need to be burdened with my “stuff” someday.

  • I purged a lot of my books in the past two years. The ones I’ve kept are those by my favourite authors as well as art/photography books (those are in my field of interest). I got rid of a lot of my 3-year-old’s books, as I bought a lot before she was even born (or conceived, for that matter). I kept the ones with great stories and illustrations (ie. the ones we REALLY like… I’m a sucker for fantastic illustrations in picture books) and donated/sold the rest. I figured that many of the more popular books or classics can be acquired from a library, if wanted or needed.

    We’re planning on moving to the UK from Canada later this year and my biggest concern is how (or if) we’re going to ship our books. I’d be sad to leave the books behind (I’d say that’s the bulk of what we own) but I wonder how practical/cost-efficient it is to ship the books.

    • Hi Dawn – re: shipping books. Depends on how you ship your stuff. The freight company we used charged in square footage – not weight. Good thing to keep in mind when you are deciding what to send.

  • I have never been much of a reader and as a result don’t have a large library. However, some how or another I ended up with 2 bookshelves (18 cubes) FULL of children’s books (I do have 3 kids). After down sizing, I was able to cut it in half by donating most to my children’s school, and the local preschool.
    We will be moving again in the next year, and I hope that I can decrease it by another half. That said, I have been holding on to some baby books as they are a great way to learn to read, which my youngest is beginning to do…

    I have no comments on the digital vs paper for adults, but I can not imagine a child chewing on a kindle like device as they would on a book!

  • I will continue to consume both media for books in the foreseeable future.

    I am trying my best to become more minimalist, but I’m also a collector, which is an unfortunate combo. What I have resolved to do is buy physical copy books for collection reasons (e.g. Sherlock Holmes series, A Song of Ice and Fire series), but buy on my Kindle books that I will likely only read once (e.g. travel guides, biographies, one-off novels, series that I don’t particularly care for, etc).

    I’m still working on paring down my current book collection. Who needs dictionaries anymore, let alone two or three of them? But it a long a slow process of letting go.

  • I purged a lot of books in 2011. This was a hard one for me, because I always wanted a large bookcase with lots of books. If I’m honest I thought it made me look smart and well educated. Reading a lot about books and minimalism has changed my mind and attitude. Your post about ‘owning books don’t make you a reader’ really helped.

    In November I volunteerd for a book sale by Amnesty. People could donate books they no longer wanted and we would sell them for 1 or 2 euros. Literally thousands of books were donated. For the most part they were old outdated books that nobody wanted anymore. The newer books sold very quickly. This really helped me to get rid of my books also. Why hold on to books that you will never again read just to look impressive on a shelf? Better to give them away or sell them when they still make other happy.

    • We sold a lot of our books to a used bookstore and it was interesting to see what they wanted and what they passed on. I had a lot of texts on writing that they wanted and paid a good price for. The new paperbacks, surprisingly, didn’t sell as well. I think because a few of them were available at discount stores like Costco and there was a glut of them.

  • I have a question for you or your readers. I own very few books. An avid reader, yes, but use the library profusely. How do I use/decorate built-in bookshelves in a minimalist fashion? I’ve currently got about a dozen decorative vases spaced out on them (of which one is used maybe once a month). But that’s not minimalism. I’ve thought of putting storage baskets on them, which I don’t need the storage and would just have the basket sfor decor, but that’s still stuff. I’ve thought of putting useful things in jars, like cable cords or extra computer ink, but, again, I don’t lack in storage space. I have zero decorating sense, which is may be part of my problem. I’m hoping someone has a unique minimalist idea.

    • I’m no expert, but I say get rid of the bookcase. I was doing the SAME thing with our bookcases. I ended up fitting everything on one bookcase, got rid or the other, and just live in the empty space. However, I feel you on the whole decorating thing. I just say I’m a minimalist and hope that explains it 😉

      • I agree, that would absolutely be the minimalist way, and I would LOVE the extra living space. However, removing the unit would then entail repair/rebuilding the wall which is beyond my current skill set. One can dream, I guess.

        • Shelves only need one or two things on them. Minimalist is about choosing the few things that make you happy and make the living space calmer (at least that’s my take)… don’t use the shelves for storage – use them for art! As in, make the shelves the art… Or put some fab wall paper at the backs of the shelves to make it pop and make it more of a feature and less of furniture.

    • Since it is a built-in and it probably cant be easily removed…and if you don’t love the vases you have on it right now, you might try removing the vases to see how you feel about the empty shelves. If you think they must have something on them then maybe bring back your favorite vases but only put one on each shelf or on every other shelf. That way you could have decor and empty space at the same time.

      • This is a great idea! Since the shelves are divided into 11 sections, putting one vase on every other shelf immediately decreases them by half! After all, empty spaces are part of the decor too, right? Later I may try to empty shelf idea and see if I even notice the blank spaces. Maybe put decorative paper on the back of the space. Thanks!

    • I have to say, I do love the look of built in white bookshelves with nicely arranged, not overstuffed, books. I guess that is the challenge, to arrange the books and your decorative pieces for a simple and beautiful ascetic. Did you see the link at the bootom of the post? Rachel at Small Notebook uses built in shelves as well. It looks like the lowest shelf is a catch all for her sunglasses, wallet, etc.

      Good luck!

    • I once had a built-in bookshelf without the books to support it. I love reading, but I only have a handful of books and choose to visit the library when I have the need to read. I decorated the bookshelf using natural items found in the area. For instance, I took a branch from a tree and laid it artistically across a shelf. One year I got the idea to hang some Christmas balls on a few small twigs and then that Easter I painted some eggs and hung those on the twigs. It kinda became a piece that changed with the seasons. Sea shells, a painted rock, or a potted plant would work as well.

      • That’s a great phrase — “without the books to support it.” Exactly my dilemmas. Using natural things would make for an easy and inexpensive way to change things up.

    • I would get rid of them too, but since that is not an option at the moment, I like the idea for adding color with paint or paper or fabric and leave the shelves empty. What a great thing that you don’t need the space! I’d ask for a gift of having it removed next time someone who can do it or afford it offers or save up to have it done!

  • I am still not sold on the Kindle, Nook or any other eReader format. Yes, I think this is the wave of the future, but I’m stubborn when it comes to how I read my books. (You can’t get that smell of paper and ink from holding a Kindle.)

    While I think that my book collection needs weeding (it just does!), I also look at my books as an investment that I’ve made to myself and to my future children. I check out books from the library and if I think it will be something that I’ll read over and over again (which I do), I make room in my budget to acquire my own copy. I love minimalism, but I’m not ready to give up my books just yet.

    Besides, my husband hid my engagement ring on our bookshelf behind his collection of Tolkien books. You can’t hide a ring box behind a Nook. :)

  • Funny you should write about this. Just last night I finally convinced myself to get rid of all of my old university textbooks. Something about paying that much for them (and the eduction) made me want to hold onto them even though I haven’t even opened one in over 5 years. Thinking about paying to store/move them and realizing that all of the information in them is available on the Internet via a quick search finally convinced me to let them go. From now on, if I don’t love it and/or use it often, it’s gone.

    • I did the same thing a few months ago. It kind of hurt to ditch what probably amounted to $2000 worth of books, but it’s not like I’ve ever opened any of them in the eight years since I graduated. I donated them to a charitable organization, and I’m hoping that some of them might find their way to people who have interest in the various topics. In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I don’t miss them.

      • I was a thrifty (read: broke) university student myself so most of my textbooks were sold back at the end of semester for cash. The ones I did keep I held onto for a few years but they spent most of their time in storage at my mom’s house while a I crossed the country multiple times a year as an athlete. When I did my big purge of books I donated or sold all but one: The Rattlebag. It’s a great anthology of poetry and I always kept it with me in my moving and travels.

    • I did the same this last summer. I donated most of my textbooks to the local library (they sell donated books) and just kept the ones from courses I really enjoyed or those in my area of academic interest.

  • I’m not quite ready for a Kindle, but as a bit of a Minimalist myself I rely heavily on the library and loans from friends. Part of it is being thrifty, but part of it is that I really don’t want any more “stuff”, including books, in my house. My girls’ each have a bookshelf, of course, but I’m quick to hand down or donate any titles that aren’t worthy of remaining in their colletion (i.e. collecting dust). As a teacher and parent, I felt really guilty when I read research about how a child’s reading skills correlate to the number of books in the home…but I would argue that we have tons of books in and out of our home…they’re just not all there cluttering the place up at the same time!

  • Books are my Achilles heel. I LOVE books. I recently did a purge of my collection but I still have too many. A while ago I bought a Fujitsu scanner and I’ve been slowly scanning my books into PDF format. It’s time consuming because I have to use a razor blade to cut the pages out and then of course the book is ruined, but I’ve cleared a lot of space on my shelf. I even took a valuable textbook from college to a printing shop so they could cut the spine off for scanning. Best part: the scanning software can make the text searchable!

    All in all, I agree that paper based books are on their way out.

  • We donate books quite often to local charity book sales and use paperbackswap.com to keep our collection rotating in addition to using the library. I have had book exchanges for birthday parties and offered to donate X# of ours for every used book brought as a gift to our children. We do read ebooks too. There is certainly a place in this world for both. I can’t lend my ebooks to my friends, and we love to trade titles.

    I like to make sure our books are not flowing out of our three book cases (three different rooms, for three different reasons). When I see we are stuffing and stack, I start pulling and giving. It’s lovely to pay it forward with a book.

  • I have an iPad with a Kindle app, but I cannot give up real, paper books. As someone who is constantly looking to simplify, however, I do use the library a lot. I don’t often read books more than once so I don’t buy many except those by my favorite authors. I like having them around, like friends. :-)

    One thing I have noticed, however, is that I’m much more okay with reading a non-fiction book electronically, but I still want my fiction to be in the form of an actual book I can curl up with. Does anyone else feel that way?

  • I have been slowly decreasing my current book collection, I am down to about 35 books, with probably another 5-10 with I will look at selling in the next few months. Like you, I love to read but have embraced digital books so now most of what I read is on my e-reader. Our local library has just opened an online digital library which I am really excited to try out.

    • I was surprised/delighted to see that even the local library here in Douglas has started an online digital library. Most things here are 5-10 years behind what was available in Vancouver.

  • “Really, who reads books over and over and over again?” — er, that’ll be me, most of my friends, and most of our families. Guess I don’t understand people who don’t revisit their favourites — it would be (to me) like buying a dress you absolutely adore, and then returning it after wearing it just once! My closet workhorse is clearly your exercise in extreme minimalism!

    Apart from what others have said (the feel and convenience of paper; the sentimental attachment; the worry over and expense of not having repeat access or cross-platform access in the various ‘closed’ systems of electronic reading systems; the child-, senior- and clumsy-friendliness of paper over electronics; collections), I want to add two other reasons to hold on to physical tomes.

    One is the craftsmanship — the beauty of a tooled or mixed matte/gloss cover, the shape of the spine, the indentations of a woodcut, the way proportions make the book (digitized volumes often cannot replicate odd proportions and flatten all to the same dimensions for portability across the platform). Especially those interested in and inspired by the history of books and bookmaking will always miss that; many aesthetically sensitive or plain picky (moi!) readers will too — I have a long history of waiting to buy a book I want (although have already read once in digitized form) till it appears in just the right kind of covers.

    The second reason has to do with economics of publishing. It is cheaper to replace a sodden paper cookbook than replace the iPad I’ve splashed with hot oil or tomato sauce. In developing nations (like mine), it is far cheaper to access a paper book than a pixel one — and more options are available to me in the former.

  • I strive not to own books and I don’t own an e-reader. I’m fortunate to have access to great libraries (I did check a Kindle out from one last summer but didn’t like it enough to want to get one) and to live in a community with several drop off-pick up a free book spots where it is easy to find, e.g., recent NYT bestsellers. I see no need to devote the space to paperbooks when I can allow others to store them for me (libraries) or access them and share them freely. If there’s one I truly want and can’t get from those sources, I either put it on my Amazon wishlist or just buy it for myself, but I typically sell or pass it along when I’m done; there are few books that are both (a) not good enough or too obscure/specialized to be in a local library (including several university libraries) and (b) worth keeping around.

    • …I will add, though, that if I traveled a lot and/or didn’t have access to good libraries, I’d probably buy a basic Kindle (or similar). Where I live now, I can’t really justify the expense even if I did like the format. Which — eh. It’s OK, but not great.

  • I think there were always be paper books, there is so much to books, the paper, the feel, the fresh new smell… if you love a book buy the book but if you love reading then a Kindle is the way to go… So many books are available for free, we have loaded up heaps of books for our kids – as soon as they can read chapter books (there are a few books for younger kids) there are hundreds of books to read electronically!!!

    But the point of my comment was that we have heaps of books and last year we did a huge declutter and got rid of half of the books we own. The kids had two walls of books but we needed one wall for a bunk bed so removed half their books. We went through the books one by one – “Do you love it or not?” Turns out they had a heap of books that they didn’t love – why have them!!! With eight kids my mom insists on giving them a book at every birthday and every Christmas and any other event really – thats over a hundred new books a year!!! Something had to be done!!! Now we read them and regift them.
    My kids have no fewer books to read, we go to the library every week and take 70 books a week!!! They really have enough new and a full variety to read but the books they own are the books they love. They have learnt to be discerning.
    For myself I reduced my novels from shelves to about five, it is harder for me to part with beautiful factual books!!! My husband now owns the BULK of books but even he will say – I don’t need this anymore… and I donate them before he rethinks!!!

  • I gave away about half of our books (we now have 2 bookcases left), I still have to go through all our childrens books, we have at least 5 boxes of them. We read alot and I´ve saved our favourites. I never read books online, I like the feeling of holding a book in my hands. I´m not buying any new books instead I visit the library once a week, I love going there and so does my children.

  • It took me a long time to give into the e-reader train but I’m glad I did. I still have a whole bookshelf of ‘real’ books that I am slowly reading my way through, and there are some that I will always keep but I am also increasing my e-library. I have a dedicated e-reader, plus the Kindle app on my laptop and iPhone, the iBooks app on the iPhone and the Overdrive app that allows me to ‘borrow’ eBooks from my library. All of these options give me access to different catalogues of books and all fit in with different aspects of my life. I think there will always be paper books but possibly ‘Special Edition’ and ‘Collectors Editions’ as we go forward.

    Have you come across Unbound (http://unbound.co.uk/) – allowing anyone to try and publish? I know of at least 2 celebrities that are going that route…

  • Wow. I am surprised at the way some readers have chosen to interpret your message. I love the point of this post. I love books. My husband and I are self-proclaimed book junkies. We could not step into a book store without purchasing at least 2 (one for each of us). I am happy to say that our son is the same way. Yay!! But after moving said books 13 times…yes 13…we decided to sell off the less important ones. Sigh. And then my husband got a kindle and I discovered kindle for pc. Oh what a change that has made! We can still be avid readers but not have books to lug around. I love it. Most of the time. Can’t use the kindle if you want to read while taking a relaxing bubble bath…not safely anyway.

  • Great post!
    It got me thinking, I am probably a minimalish dinosaur:) My son won’t be one but we also don’t have an e-reader. For little kids, board books are part of the manual discovery of their early years. We will keep the classics and favorites, but I won’t have 2000 books like my parents.

  • This post actually depresses me, and somewhat angers me. Real readers read books. Period. It doesn’t matter what argument you give me fact is fact. You can be someone who reads books on an e-reader but you are NOT a true reader. A true reader feels the heft of the book, she (he) waits for a book- she searches for it- it’s not about instant gratification. The entire experience of reading involves searching for a book, holding it, turning the pages…it’s not about downloading Pride and Prejudice onto an electronic device and asserting yourself as a “reader.” True readers will always have books- and there will always be companies willing to provide to us. In the same way that true music lovers search out records as opposed to downloading them to an iPod. Did you know nearly every song that is released is also released on record? If not you probably aren’t a true music lover, you’re just a person who likes listening to music. There’s a difference. It really depresses and angers me when people make broad assertions about books and the publishing business. Yes, your average person will probably take the usual lazy way out (that’s the direction the entire world is heading in- lazy instant gratification) and easily and swiftly download books to an e-reader. But real readers won’t. My children (13 and 5) both have lap tops and iPods- they are children of the 21st century after all- but they both have book collections and their only knowledge of reading is with books. I’m so depressed that you wrote this blog post as I have always enjoyed your writing and followed you enthusiastically but I can not take you seriously or read your blog anymore after reading this post. It’s so distressing and horrible. I am a minimalist who values my books as my prized possessions- I will never get rid of them and since I’ve lived in England, France, and the US they are more well- traveled then most Americans.

    • I agree with much of this except one thing. I think a true reader is someone who loves to read, no matter if it’s on kindle or a paper book. As much as I love some books in a special edition, I’ve also never been a snob about getting them in mass market paperback. It’s the story itself that’s important, not the package it comes in. Just my two cents.

    • Patricia, you’re obviously passionate about books and that’s great! But I think it’s a bit much to say somebody else is not “a reader” if they don’t read on your terms (ie, from a paper book). Personally, I think readers should choose their preferred format for themselves.

      To me, the point of this post (like many of Rachel’s posts) is mainly just to think about things, make your own decisions. You don’t have to do something a certain way just because it’s how you did it before, or because it’s how most people do it. I totally get why somebody would want to hold on to their books and keep reading from paper books only. I don’t get why they would be offended if other people don’t feel the same way.

    • This post made me a little depressed too, but I disagree that someone who only reads e-books is not a reader. I think it just means they aren’t a book lover. This is the kind of person who reads stacks of paperbacks and then leaves them in boxes in the garage. Yes, this person reads a lot. But the fact that they don’t treat their books well means an e-reader is perfect for them. Personally, I collect books. I love to collect hardcover copies of books I read over and over. I collect children’s books with beautiful illustrations. When I can afford it, I obtain leather bound copies of my very favorite classics. So for the most part I agree with you, except for the reader/book lover distinction.

      • Is it treating your books well to let them languish on a shelf? It is great that you read them over and over again, but I fear that most people do not. The book ends up sitting unused after a read or two. On hand to be stared at, rather than to be absorbed.
        I will also be sad if paper books disappear. My hope is that the printed become fewer and that those printed are read by many, rather than sitting on the shelves of one person’s home with words unread for decades. Isn’t the whole point of owning things for them to be used? Art is to be seen, books are to be read, clothes are to be worn and food is meant to be eaten. When you don’t use something, you’re doing it a disservice and wasting the purpose of the item.
        I love the feel of turning pages on a book. I love books. But I also recognize the waste involved in owning a book that isn’t being read. I think you can be a book lover and own a kindle. Just like you can be an art lover and spend your weekends at galleries. Or love fashion and borrow new items from friends.
        Ownership doesn’t equate a love. Using something equates an appreciation of it.
        Apologies if this comes off harsh but I love books and reading. Just because I choose to own an ereader and use the library, doesn’t mean I’m not a book lover.

        • Is it treating paintings well to let them languish on a wall? Books belong on the shelf. That’s their milieu. And books don’t “languish” on the shelf if you’re a book collector/lover, even if you don’t read them over and over again. There will always be those who appreciate the book as artifact (the craftsmanship of the binding, the illustrations in various editions, the fact that it may be signed by the author, etc, ) as well as for the content. I guess there are degrees of book-lover-ness, just as there are degrees of readership.

          I don’t know why there has to be any discussion of which is “better” or which makes the truer reader: e-book or physical book. Whichever works for you is best. If you love using the library, fine. If you love your e-reader, fine. If you love having your books ranged on floor-to-ceiling shelves, fine. What works for you works for you. For me, physical books give me greater pleasure than digital ones. I will say, though, that the minimalistmom’s claim that “books will eventually be solely published digitally” is sheer folly.

    • While I understand wholly your passion for books (I work in a bookstore), you’re painting with a broad brush. One of my dearest friends is also on staff at the bookstore but solely for the discount cuz she certainly spends more than she makes there. There’s no way she’s not a “real” reader, yet she also owns two e-readers. She just collects books in every way.

    • ” Real readers read books. Period. It doesn’t matter what argument you give me fact is fact.”

      No. That is not fact. That is your opinion. This is also your opinion:

      “…true music lovers search out records as opposed to downloading them to an iPod. Did you know nearly every song that is released is also released on record? If not you probably aren’t a true music lover, you’re just a person who likes listening to music.”

      You are obviously very passionate about books, which is fantastic. But to paint all adopters of modern technology (both literary and musical) as “lazy” is exactly the same kind of broad assertion that you purport to be angered and depressed by.

      Instead, consider that true lovers of books and music can now have their entire collections at their fingertips wherever they travel — how amazing is that?!

    • Patricia – I am sorry my writing depresses you or angers you. I’m not here to make anyone feel bad but, rather, present ideas and a point of view that is outside of the mainstream.

      I don’t agree at all that “real readers read books” as you say. Nor do I agree with your music analogy. My husband, a musician that worked for two decades touring with his band, and is a huge fan of music (could talk your ear off about The Beatles, Springsteen, Bob Dylan), sold his massive CD collection a few years ago. He now listens to music on his iPod or through his computer. He’s still a real music lover in my opinion.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts. It sparked some lively discussion and I enjoyed reading both your comment and the responses.

    • Tyler Durden once said, “you are not your F*$#ing khakis.” I’m pretty sure in this case he would tell you, “you are not your F*$#ing books.”

  • This makes me sad. I’ve purged my own collection down to just the books I know I will re-read (which is still quite a few), but I hate to think of paper books going away. I have some on my kindle for Mac, mostly short stories and anthologies, but for larger novels I live the feel of a paper book in my hands. I love libraries and bookstores, being surrounded by all those wonderful books and the worlds and knowledge they contain. I love the smell of books. And a hard bound or even paperback with fantastic artwork is special. I hope they don’t completely go away.

  • I usually enjoy reading all your comments on your blog posts. However, this was one comment feed I could have done without! I’m so sorry you’ve seem to have received so much back-lash on this topic! People must be SUPER connected to their books. Being of a younger generation, I completely understand your post and totally agree. I have a kindle and about a dozen books. I think this is the direction we are heading in, regarding the written word. I kept all of my graduate school books (for far too long) because my professors kept telling me how important it was to keep them. But with all the advancements in science (and all other fields for that matter) they become outdated quickly and just become another resource in a library to study what people used to do, which is great for historians in a research library but not for my personal bookshelf.
    Thank you for your post!

  • I dont need to own a book to enjoy it. I enjoy the typo, the haptic, the turning of the pages. The public library offers a great selection.
    Going through travel guides in book form and travel pages online I can only once more confirm: nothing beats a book!
    A book does not wear me out, but soothes me.

    Having started some heavy reading recently (1 book/day), I noticed the luxury in the moment, returing to good old qualities: a book a typesetter did. And there is nothing like reflections or the perfect angle or the problem with too bright daylight.
    When I read a book, it’s just me and the book. When I read using an electronic device, it’s always me and the device, which needs energy, which must not get wetm which better not lay in the sand or – drop to the floor at night, beside my bed.
    Long story short: I can’t stand looking at/reading from illuminated monitors but rather read from paper.
    Turning the pages was a “feature” in the novel/film The Name of the Rose. I hope turning the pages will stay around for the next 700 years.

  • As far as cookbooks are concerned, I do plan on trimming my collection to ones that I use often, and then I plan on keeping a record of the most cooked (and most loved) recipe’s and creating our own cookbook. This would then allow me to create a keepsake that I’d truly use daily and condense the cookbook collection. We cook from scratch 7 days a week 2+ meals a day.

    • A year or so ago, I was looking through my kitchen at what I wasn’t using and my eye came across the collection of cookbooks — easily 20 of them. Most were given as gifts and I had only opened them at the time I received them!! But that isn’t the same as saying I don’t cook because I cook 3 meals everyday and mostly from scratch.
      What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m a visual person and pictures sell me on recipes. So I don’t open cookbooks, I look on the internet. When I find a recipe I want to try, I sketch it on a scrap paper. If I like it, I write it down on a recipe card and go back to that recipe card when I want to make it again.
      The cookbooks in my kitchen?? I’m down to 3 for children and about 6 that I refer to regularly. When I want to make something I can’t find there, I go to the internet and occasionally check out a cookbook from the library.

  • For me the hard part is that two of my favorite places are the library and the bookstore, and I don’t want them to disappear :)
    I only really buy used books or ebooks anymore though…used book prices still beat ebooks. Those of you paring down please donate your books to the library :)

    • I love the library too. We visited it at least once a week in Vancouver for the story time for my soon and to browse books in the Children’s Library. I’d hate to think of the library not being there as a resource and gathering place.

  • I love to read- and I love books! However, I have gotten rid of most of my books over the last year. I kept a few that I love and references for things like gardening and cooking. It felt strange at first, but I am happy to say that I LOVE it now. :-) I go to the library weekly and have been reading more than ever. I don’t have any digital reader yet, but can imagine getting one in the future. There have been a couple of times that a book wasn’t available at the library and I bought it (used when I could) and then gave it to a friend when I finished. My challenge now is that my boyfriend does NOT want to part with anything and so the shelves are overloaded with his books. And I am learning patience and acceptance. <3

  • Books are hard for me to let go of. I’m getting better. Ebooks just don’t have the same appeal. Curling up on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea and my…ereader…? I admit, I love the feel of books, the tactile adventure of them in my hands and the unique smell of old books. I don’t deny that ebooks are becoming the wave of the future. However, just like looking at a picture of the beach isn’t as relaxing as being there, reading a book on the computer doesn’t have the same experience for me. I know my son is growing up in a world that will be much different than my own, it this is one “old fashioned” custom I hope he holds onto at least to some degree.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment, “Reading makes a reader.” I believe there is value in books in their hard copy form and I too would be sad if I couldn’t take my kids to the library to take out paper books, but from my own (selfish) perspective, I love that books have become available digitally. I purchased a Sony eReader in December 2010, and I can honestly say that I read more books in the last year than I did in the previous ten years – and the technology enabled me to do that (as I am too cheap to buy books and too lazy to go to the library every day). I love being able to download books from my local library, and don’t feel like I am missing out on the experience of reading from “real” books. In fact, I’m pretty sure my wrists are happier given that my eReader is so lightweight compared to the weight of actual books. :) And other than a cookbook or two, I don’t actually own any “real” books. I’m sure the book police are gonna show up at my house now that I’ve divulged that dirty little secret…

  • One other small point — and admittedly a personal struggle for me in managing minimalism — is that an excess of e-books is no less of a clutter than the same number of physical paperbooks. Which means, the temptation to download an e-book in preference to adding to my (admittedly groaning until quite recently) bookshelves is also a choice that can add clutter to my hard drive, tertiary storage etc etc. It means that while I may not need to dust as much (yay! I’m allergic to dust mites), I do need to ‘clean house’ just as much, if not more often — especially because it is so much easier to download and download and download, and not ‘see’ the bulk you added to your possessions!

    Wondering, therefore, if the minimalist solution is not so much a matter of medium but of having the discipline to pass on/erase after you’ve done — which in turn needs the thought and self-awareness to understand what will be needed again and what won’t, or choosing whether to pay to download/buy it again in future (if need be), in the interests of present space/breathing room/cleaner & more manageable living?

    • I’m not sure if other e-readers have this function but you can archive books on the Kindle. They are still available to you but you have to download them. It’s a good way to clean up your book list and still have the titles available to you.

  • Wow this topic sure got some spark! I have a kindle and I also have the app on my phone. I love having access to so many of the public domain books. I read some amazing books this past year. All free on my kindle. I love that I always have a book to read because of the app on my phone. I will admit though that while reading a really great story there comes a point where I have to have the actual book. I too love the feel of the pages and the smell. I wish our library had a better selection but they don’t. My solution has been to buy the book on amazon, usually used, and then resell it. You can’t do that with a kindle book.

  • I am surprised at the rather vehement and insulting post from Patricia.

    As someone who has only recently arrived at the Kindle bus stop I have to say I am a fan.

    Why? Because I can adjust the size of the typeface. I’m in my 50’s and have become increasingly longsighted (beware, Patricia, this will happen to you too) and books with normal sized type, although readable, require really good lighting to be comfortable (which is at odds with the idea of curling up with a book, somehow). With the kindle I can enlarge the typeface just a little and have a much more comfortable reading experience.

    Th either thing I’ve noticed in the views here is that most commenters equate novels with wanting real books but are happy to get factual books as ebooks. I am completely the opposite. My factual books are texts, knitting books with graphs and images and charts, cookery books which are stained with water and have flour in the creases, and books on vegetable growing with dirt on the corners and scribbles in the margins.

    • I’m the same way. I prefer nonfiction in a hard copy form. I tend to read nonfiction at a much slower pace and like viewing diagrams and data charts on paper. Fiction is easier for me to read on an e-reader because I tend to finish novels quickly, within a few days.

  • My MIL keeps offering to buy me a kindle, but I don’t want one. I am just very resistant to “screen time.” We are so surrounded by media and screens, and while reading a novel on a kindle is certainly not the same as wasting time on facebook, my daughter won’t be able to tell the difference by looking at me with a digital thing in my hand. I think it is great that libraries are now offering e-readers, but I cannot imagine not being able to go lose myself for an hour in a library, browing the books, picking them up, coming home with my selections. I love reading, and I love actual books. That said, we have pared down our library a lot this past year, and I am beginning to get ruthless about donating my daughter’s books, too. Seriously; how many books does one baby need? She just wants to hear the same few stories over and over!

  • Love the post. I got rid of most of my library last year too. Looking at my bookshelf now I think I have 8 that are mine. There are lots of library books and a kindle. :) I love reading and read several books a month, the library is the greatest place. Now they are lending in kindle as well and my reading minimalist self is happy.

  • As a librarian, I can tell you this debate is only getting hotter. But people make a huge mistake when they think all libraries are about are book warehouses. They aren’t. Libraries and librarians are about freedom and access to information -whether in a printed or digital format. We are often the only source of books and information access available to a large percentage of the population. THAT is what we care about – not how it is delivered. Some libraries are starting to circulate e-readers! My library circulated over 60,000 e-books in 2011 and well over a million printed books. Both formats are widely used. Yes, e-books are gaining popularity. However, I think that in the blogosphere, there is some technical elitism going on. I daily work with dozens of computer/technology illiterate adults experiencing computers for the first time because they need to apply for jobs online. These people are not rushing to buy Kindles. They can’t work a mouse and they definitely can’t download an e-book from Amazon. So there is still a market for our print collection. E-readers are expensive. E-books are expensive. And since not all e-books are available in library format, they are not always available for free download from your local library. So people (like me!) who rely heavily on the library’s collection for their reading will still need printed materials in the foreseeable future (at least until the all publishing companies want to play nice with libraries. Google Harper Collins if you want to see some angry librarians). I would also like to remind everyone that almost this exact same debate took place over audiobooks in the 80’s. “No one will want to READ a book if they can just LISTEN to it!”

  • What a great post! It’s rather timely for me, as we’re paring down our book collection. My husband and I are avid readers, but that doesn’t mean books must occupy a large physical presence in our small flat. We’re keeping cookbooks, references, and beloved favorites; the rest are being passed on to other readers. We also have e-readers and use the library.

    I must say, there are several very strange ideas espoused in the comments. One does not have to choose merely one form of reading, just like one need not choose one form of listening. We own paper books, e-readers, vinyl records, and iPods (in fact most new vinyl albums come with either a CD or a code for digital download). Really, I’d hope “true” readers would be more familiar with the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. 😉

    You are not your stuff, indeed. I adore your blog and find it very inspiring. Thank you for writing!

  • This is an interesting post. I’m an avid reader, but have not yet gotten on the e-reader band wagon. I’ve considered it, but I love the feel and smell of an actual book too much. I also read Leo’s post on mnmlist.com the other day about Kindles and iPads as marketing tools and agree with him on this. Anyway, what I really want to say is perhaps a better title for this post would have been “Paper Books are for Dinosaurs IN FIRST WORLD, DEVELOPED COUNTRIES.” How lucky we are to live in highly developed countries where electricity, Internet, and good incomes allow us to debate whether paper or e-books are better and give us the options to choose both mediums if we so desire. My husband and I sponsor two girls; one in Guatemala and oe in the Philippines. They don’t have the option to debate paper books versus e-readers. They don’t even have electricity in their homes and the few books they have are probably very precious to them. And who knows, there may come a time in developed countries when energy has to be rationed due to oil scarcity and we may wish we had those paper books once again because we’d rather use the electricity available to power our stoves or heat our homes instead of powering an electronic device to read a book. Just some food for though. Also, I’ve probably been reading too many peak oil blogposts lately, so if you think I’m totally nuts, then just disregard that last statement. : )

  • I was hesitant to get a Kindle at first because, like many, I loved the feel of paper books. I never liked the look of a ton of books stored in the open, but then again, I’ve never liked a lot of visual clutter. So, most, if not all, of my books were in a box in a closet somewhere. The only paper back books I have lying around are ones that I borrow from my mom, and there’s never more than two at a time.

    For those who think displaying their books makes them look smart, I’d like to ask a question. How often do people come over and browse through your collection? (I ask this kindly). In my experience, that was extremely rare (and come to think of it, I don’t think it ever happened).

    Having books displayed means nothing if you can’t remember what they are about or if you didn’t fully understand them. Why not keep a mental or written note of the books that inspired you and use that to engage in conversations with other avid readers?

    • I forgot to mention that I do own a Kindle now and absolutely love it!!! I read on average 3 books a week and would not want that clutter in my home. I still have conversations with other readers about the books I read, but I don’t have to have the book in my home to prove that I read it.

  • In September, we were one of many people who lost our homes in a wildfire. That meant ALL of our books. There are a couple that I am sad about – the original Zane Grey with my grandfather’s name in it and a few others. However, the rest I don’t really miss and will not be replaced.

    I am a born again minimalist. I hope.

    After the fire, I bought one thing that wasn’t a “need” but that would make me happy… and I got the Nook Tablet. Pre-fire, I would have never spent the money on it but now… I love it!

    Yes, there is a real library with real books but as a mom of a 3 year old with another on the way, reading time is sporadic and the odds of my reading a book, or remembering to get it returned in time… whatever. I know myself enough to know to not even bother. With ebooks, many of which are free or only a few dollars, I can take my time, generally pay far less than what I’d pay in late fees, and not have any books on a shelf.

    I don’t have cookbooks either. i prefer making recipes that have user reviews so that I have a greater chance of success at dinner. I just keep my laptop on my table and cook from that. If somethign is a hit, I print it out and it goes into my private recipe collection.

    Anyways, that’s me. Before the fire… probably not, but things change even for a bookworm like me!

  • I am in the midst of getting rid of most of our adult books in our home. Because we have a small home, they have all mostly been stashed away in random corners to slowly be forgotten. I love using the library and finding new books there instead of relying on what we have handy. As for the kids books, they each have one shelf in their rooms dedicated to their favorites and the rest get rotated around. Luckily enough our local bookstore “Longfellow Books” in Portland gives store credit for the books I bring in. I completely support minimizing your books!

    • I would love to get rid of my paper books … if I could convert them to electronic format without buying them again. If there was somewhere I could go to hand in a paper book, and for a small (say $2) fee get an ebook version I would do it tomorrow. It would still cost me a lot of money, but that would be fabulous. The problem is that I have hundreds of books, and yes I do re-read them. At the moment the books that I use only infrequently are in boxes because I got sick of the kids pulling them off the bookshelves. The amount of lockable storage I would need to store them all properly makes me shudder.

  • This is a really interesting post!
    While I love the look and feel of hard copy books, and am the type of person to read books over and over again, I definitely think digital books are the way to go for many reasons.
    I would love to see more school and university resources go digital. For one thing, books are heavy, especially for kids and teenagers lugging them back and forth for homework. For another thing, educational resources can date fairly quickly.
    I have books from my uni degree that have more than likely been superseded, so I can’t really sell or donate them – but I feel bad just recycling them. They’re taking up space in my bookshelf and I’m stuck in limbo about what to do with them.
    If they were digital I wouldn’t have this problem – I could keep the ones I may refer to around without taking up physical space in the house, or just delete them from my ereader if I’m done with them.
    Without physical production and distribution costs it could also keep costs down, which is a win for any student!

    • As a current student, I definitely agree that books are heavy to lug around, especially when we don’t use half of what’s in there. That system needs updating. The current problem with e-books is that I can’t resell them or give them to another student to use. You don’t really own the e-textbook. When your subscription to access expires, you have to purchase it again. I can’t sell or give away my statistics textbook because it was never really mine, I just purchased limited access to it. The next student will have to purchase access themselves, currently at around $100 per course. Nice money for the owner of the book, but no way for broke college students to get a break on the price.

  • As someone with a PhD in Library and Information Studies who has worked at the Library of Congress for 2 decades, I will again repeat: you have no idea about the more subtle points of this debate. Like most bloggers, you choose to paint with a broad brush about an industry you feel you know because you can hit “publish” on your blog.

    • Hi Faun,

      Thank you for commenting here and sharing your opinion as an expert in the field.

      I’ve welcomed the heated discussion and I agree, as a blogger I have painted with a broad brush on this subject. But I am not a librarian. Nor do I live in a developing nation where e-readers and access to online libraries are far from common. I am a middle class woman in the first world. I write from my perspective. I’m quite transparent about that. And what I see for myself, and other families like me, is that reading books in a digital format is becoming common place.

      I will recant that paper books will not be obsolete in my lifetime. I actually wrote a bit more about that here. This post was about reconsidering the size of your paper book library.

      I have to ask, a Librarian working for the Library of Congress, haven’t you witnessed first hand the move to research online? Aren’t more and more books, documents and photographs being copied and scanned for easy access? Could you not envision one day that most of these documents and books will be preserved and rarely used as their digital copy is easier to access?

      R

  • I can’t believe some of the arrogant and rude responses to this post. The title is clearly tongue-in-cheek, and the rest of the post makes a lot of sense. I’m not ready to give up paper books, but I can certainly see the value of eliminating some that I don’t plan on re-visiting in the future, in the interest of preserving space in a small home. And Kindles make a lot of sense for saving space, particularly when traveling. I think that paper books will always have their place, particularly for children who learn through their senses. And I agree that it’s good for parents to model reading for their kids, something that might not be as obvious when done on an electronic device. But that doesn’t mean that people who read via a Kindle aren’t readers!

  • I’m a librarian too, and I think you’re right on target. There’s still a lot of ebook stuff to shake out, sure, and esp. in library land we’re wading through a lot of yuck related to licensing, owning, access, archiving, etc. But that doesn’t mean those of us in the profession can ignore the opinions of educated, well-spoken users like yourself who look at where their own reading habits are going and extrapolate that into the future. For one, it’s rude to make such all-seeing pronouncements. For another — WE’RE ALL RIGHT.

    Ebooks and digital media is still in its infancy. It’s more than having a straight replacement for text and a reader instead of paper — if you look at what Apple’s doing right now, look at what Blio is trying to do, it’s about making information interactive and engaging as well as informational. No one can say where it’s all going to end up because we’ve never done anything like this before.

    Our current home has no place to put long runs of bookshelves. When we moved in 7 yrs ago I decided, “you know what? I’m a freakin’ librarian, if I don’t own those books I’ll know where to find them later.” So far, so good.

  • We got rid of our entire library (upwards of 700 books) and switched to digital editions. We kept the entire Harry Potter series, and some really nice editions of Shakespeare and Poe (former lit major, here), but the rest went bye-bye. It is SO nice not to have my five and three year olds pulling books off of shelves and scattering them everywhere!

  • Great post! I had been thinking about this exact topic today before I did some research on ebook reading. It feels great to free up space, and also get with the new digital trend. I work in publishing, so I’m experiencing this transition fast.
    Thanks for writing this!

  • It’s funny, my family has always had lots of books on hand. When I was younger, I would browse my parents bookshelves to pick out new books to read ( I love stumbling across books and being inspired to read them, I used to get lost in the library or bookstore because I would find a book and immediately begin to read it.) However, in order to keep my own books on a bookshelf in my room, I made the decision years ago to not keep books I would never want to read again.
    My library is still over 100 books however, I really enjoy rereading favorites, and have a lot of books I loved as a child that I want to share with my children. However, every year I pare down the shelves more, and recently did a purge again so that all my books would fit on one bookshelf again. Keep in mind that my husband is an English major and is loathe to get rid of any of his books (they are not included in my 100). To address your article, however, he frequently pulls books from both of our shelves to read at night, so we do use them for entertainment at least.
    I don’t think the printed word will truly go away however. I personally get headaches when reading on the screen and find printed text books easier to use and read (so much so that I printed out a 3 volume text book so that I could study effectively for my Board Exam this year.)

  • I recently gave most of my book collection to a friend. I am a book lover from childhood and I raised my kids on books. For me to let go of my book collection would have been unthinkable even a year prior, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made concerning my possessions.

    I decided I would not keep any book I could get from the library. I now think of the library as a very nice place where they store my books for me and I only have to be willing to share them with others. In the meantime, I don’t have to take care of them. I’ve learned that I don’t need to own everything I value. I can appreciate something and not need to possess it.

    I thought I might be sad about not owning books. Instead, I was sad that many of my favorite books sat unread for years because I was busy reading something else. Books are meant to be read and I’m glad they are being used instead of gathering dust at my house. If I want to re-read that favorite they have it at the library.

    Books don’t last forever. I spent a ton of money on books when my kids were growing up because I wanted them to be surrounded by books. I don’t regret that, but those books will not last until my grandchildren can read them. Unless you are investing in library quality books with archival paper the book will deteriorate over time and have to be replaced. It can be hard for book lovers to let go of books, but eventually we all have to do it because the books won’t be readable any more.

    I have a tablet but I don’t like reading e-books. I just don’t enjoy it. That said, I don’t understand why we would try to shame someone for reading. I think you miss out on the craftsmanship with an e-book, but the story is still there. If it makes people happy, I’m just glad they’re reading. It’s none of my business how they choose to do it. If I lived further from the library or didn’t have one I would probably not have whittled down my collection. So, no judgement for those who keep large collections. I don’t know that e-books will ever completely replace paper books. I hope they don’t. I will not be switching over unless I have no other choice. Newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks, I access online only. Hopefully, a mix of the two will continue to be an option.

    Ironically, I read more after opening a GoodReads account. So, being online helped me read more paper books.

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