Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

eBooks and the Bibliophiles Dilemma

This is perhaps the most taboo topic in life editing. Even extreme editors, living in their ultra-organized cubbies, often find themselves unable to get rid of these. That’s right, we’re talking about books.

We love our books–the feel of paper, the dog-eared pages, the cover art, the smell. We display them like trophies. When people come over to my house, they will know I read “The Brothers Karamazov.”

But let’s face it: books are space hogs, and few inventions help the process of editing one’s life as much as the eBook. For example, consider the basic Kindle eReader stores up to 1400 eBooks and weighs 6 oz., which is about the same size as one paperback copy of “The Great Gatsby.”

We know there are many eBook converts out there already, but for the others, who can’t quite make the leap, who are dubious of electronic ink, who love their paper-cuts and dewy thumbs, we put out a challenge: try it. 

Today we present an easy, zero-risk way of seeing if eBooks are for you.

  1. Download the Kindle app. It’s a free application that allows you to read Kindle eBooks on a variety of platforms: Android, PC, iPhone, iPad and Mac. Install it on whatever device you find yourself using the most, preferably a portable one like your phone or tablet, which better replicate a book’s utility.
  2. Download an eBook you want to read. This could be one of the millions of paid Kindle titles on Amazon, or if you don’t want to pay, download one of their 1M+ free eBooks to make this a truly zero risk experiment.
  3. Read book and see if you like it.

Mind you, this is not a perfect experiment. EBook readers like the Kindle and Nook have eye-saving electronic ink, which for many (like the author) make it possible to read for long periods of time. But others, like Graham Hill, have read many books without issue on their back-lit phone screens.

Either way, the idea is to try. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

image via Apartment Therapy

  • Machine

    The issue of what to do with books really straddles the line between 1) living life and 2) editing it to the point where it is no longer fun.

    • lifeedited

      hi machine, 
      i would question the necessary association between–as i understand you–books and living and a no-fun life and ereaders. are not books their content, rather than their form? is not the content where books have the capacity to enrich life and make it more fun? i admit i was a late comer to ereaders, but now that i’m here, i find myself reading much more. 

      • ripus7

        The form, in this case, may certainly add to content. There are some things one is able to do with physical books (e.g. read margin notes from generations past, write one’s own notes, flip through to find something with great ease, etc.) that one cannot do, or not do as simply, with digital books.

      • I religiously adhered to the e-book route for 2 years, as an experiment. I put the dead trees in storage. I used multiple physical e-ink devices (makes/models omitted to avoid irrelevant disputes).

        I ended up bringing my old books back. Here are my reasons.

        1. I could not flip pages quickly. This makes quick comparison and reference very difficult.
        2. I could not *fluidly* make notes in the book. Pencil is very free-flowing and unrestrictive; a slow, low-res e-ink display is imprisoning in comparison.
        3. The bookmarking and annotation systems involved a tortuous user journey when it came to recall.
        4. Photography is superior on paper. Some newer screens helped, but then you had to contend with battery life.
        5. By habit, I take a deep smell from a book I’m about to read. I missed that deeply.

        E-books have a non-obvious (but superb) plus point: full-text search. That said, I would often get lots of worthless results, compared to the curated indexes of yonder.

        Improved tech will ameliorate these limitations. (Apart from point 5.) I look forward to that day, but it is not here yet.

        Conclusion: I edited everything else in my flat, so I could have the pleasure of bringing back my beloved paper books!

  • geekstack

    My bookcase is an archaeological relic.  There are quite a few books, but none newer than about summer of 2010, when I got an iPad.  Since then, I have bought many more books but they were either Kindle or pdfs from technical publishers (O’Reilly, Manning, Pragmatic – computer programmers are obviously ahead of the curve here).

    Our books all fit, but the next time we move, I’ll probably do some math on what we can save by getting rid of bookshelves and buy a couple grand worth of Kindle books for things I really want to keep.

    One extra benefit to Kindle and iBooks (Apple’s ebook store) is that your page is saved and synced across devices, so I can read on my iPad at night, then pick up from the same place reading on my iPhone on the bus.

    For a wholesale replacement, my biggest unresolved concern is being aware of books – they are kind of invisible when they’re digital.  Maybe I need to get Delicious Library to make it more obvious what I have:

    But you can pry my kids’ books from my cold dead hands!  Interactive digital kids books are fun, but it’s a very different experience, more like playing a game.

  • Euge

    I started doing this some time ago, started using Kindle app and iBooks. Not to mention that e-books are cheaper than paper and I can have them in all my devices! But what I can’t get rid of are my notebooks, for taking notes and drawing sketches, paper is still my number 1 

  • Taco

    I want to know how I can take my shelf of several hundred books and convert it to several thousand Kindle files. That would be a lot more helpful then an Internet 101 step-by-step.

  • Riva

    I have a comment for e readers gadgets but i don’t think I’d be allowed to post it

  • KCR

    ı like ipad for e book but ı really love my bookcase ı guess ı am into confusing

  • Carlos

    I am one of those people who finds it hard to let go of regular books. Although I think e-books and audio books are cool I still seem to enjoy regular books better. Maybe it’s just something I need to get used to.

  • Allison Ouvry

    Oh, David, I just can’t do it. Most of my books have marginalia that I do actually go back to. I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab that book off the shelf and let the handwritten notes remind me of something, a thought about the book, a memory of something that happened the last time I was reading it, a crook of a thought that spurs me to new ideas… And the way they smell! I love it, particularly the musty reference books I’ve bought from used bookshops. But most of all, I just think I spend enough time in front of a screen for work, and for communicating with friends and families around the world, that the last thing in the world I or my eyes want to do during the other hours of the day is sit in front of yet another computer screen. It goes against our nature as mammals to spend so much time with electronics, it seems to me. A book is just, well, lovely; a kindle seems to me, just another tether. Sorry to be a humbug!

  • Amy Verkruissen-Martel

    I have been trying to simplify my house and lifestyle for the past year and it is amazing how much stuff I have been able to let go of. I’m addicted to cleaning things out. As a hardcore bibliophile all my life and a librarian I had more books than I had anything else and they were the first concern when moving around the country or moving into my house. I started weeding my collection down to what were absolute favorites and I am selling/donating the rest. I’ve come to realize from working at the library that I can pretty much get my hands on any book I want to read or re-read digitally or physically. I also keep a wish list on amazon for e-book versions of some of my current collection so when I have the money I can buy the ebook and pass on the physical copy. So there really is no need to hold onto so many books.

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