The Journey from Books to e-Books

by Kara on July 23, 2010

These shelves hold traditionally bound Korean books, created with handmade paper

I love books. Maybe a little too much. I love old books and new books, fiction and non-fiction, art books and science books. I even love binding books. And though I’ve tried to cut down, I still have hundreds of books in my house. So when e-books first appeared, I thought, “Yuck, who wants to read a book on a computer screen?” Well, I still don’t want to read a book on a computer monitor, but obviously e-books have evolved beyond that now.

Even so, I couldn’t imagine giving up the tactile experience of reading an actual book. There is just something wonderful about holding a book in your hands. But I have a history of shunning new technology only to embrace it later. I was NOT giving up my records in favor of CDs, and now I only buy music digitally (and we are not even going to talk about my eight track tape player). I got on the DVD bandwagon a little more quickly, partially because they are so much easier to store than VHS tapes. And when digital download of movies becomes faster and higher quality (for the average person), I’ll be there.

But books aren’t like anything of these other mediums. Books have been around a long time in various forms. They’ve stood the test of time a lot longer than any other media. I liked my records, but I LOVE my books. Yet I couldn’t help but be intrigued when e-readers started coming out. I loved the idea of being able to carry around dozens (even hundreds) of books with me at once. I take the train to work, and so I always need reading material. With an e-book, if I finish my book while I am on the train, I can just download another. I found that idea pretty appealing.

I considered a Kindle for a long time, but I held back, partially because I have so many real books and partially because I didn’t want to spend money on a device that only does one thing. If I decided I didn’t like reading on it, then I had basically thrown the money away. If you’ve read my iPad review, then you’ll know that was the device that finally got my attention. If I decided I didn’t like reading books on it, it still does a zillion other things.

It took me about 10 minutes to decide I love reading books on my iPad. I read two series of books on the iPad, and I just flew through them. When I’d finish one, I could immediately start on the next. I didn’t have to wait to get home to grab the next one, or go to a bookstore. Even if I didn’t already have the next one, it only took a couple minutes for me to find and download it. The only drawback is that is very susceptible to glare, so it is difficult to read in full sunlight. I have to carefully choose my seat on the train so that I can still see what I am reading.

Reading a few books on the iPad really helped me to separate form from content. I still adore actual books, but as long as I can make myself comfortable while I am reading, it doesn’t really matter how the content is delivered. This leaves me with a dilemma. What should I do with the gazillions of books in my house? I had been slowly working my way through them, and I certainly don’t want to buy e-books of books I already own, but I’d love to divest myself of a huge chunk of them. Most of them came from BookMooch, so they entered my home fairly cheaply. If there was some way to cheaply transfer them onto my iPad without tons of labor, that would be great. I am not quite handy enough to make my own book scanner, although that would be awesome. I guess my plan will be to do another weeding and see what I can get rid of now, although I’ve already done a pretty good job of getting rid of things I don’t think I will read.

What will I keep? I have a big collection of books about Korean history and culture, many of which are out of print, and those are staying. There are a few art books (how-tos) with lots of full color illustrations, and those are staying (although I would like to see how one of those books would look on the iPad). I’m keeping my books on animal intelligence, plus a few favorite authors. But that leaves many, many books that I want to read and then get rid of permanently. It seems silly to buy books to read on the iPad when I have a house full of books yet to read, but I find myself less and less willing to carry around a book. No one is more surprised than I am that I don’t want to lug around a book anymore. The main thing holding me back from completely making the switch is the financial aspect. There is no reason to be buying new books for the iPad if I have plenty of actual books left to read. Buying books online isn’t really much cheaper (if at all) than buying hard copies.

Has anyone else made the switch from all actual books to all e-books, or somewhere in the middle? I’d like to hear about it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charles Montgomery August 10, 2010 at 4:25 am


sounds like you don’t want to part with them, but if you have any books of Korean fiction translated into English? I’m happy to buy them. ^^

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