Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Digital Me

I finally did it.

I got rid of a bookshelf, and about 300 paper books.

To understand the significance of this, a few things need to be known about me.

1. I collect stuff. Mostly media. Books, magazines, videogames, music, movies. I'm one of those obsessive-compulsive types who acquires all the books an author has written, even the out-of-print stuff. My house is filled with shelves, each loaded with rare stuff, all well-organized and neatly accessible. When other collectors come over, they drool.

2. My oldest and biggest collection is my personal library. I have over five thousand print titles. Many of them autographed. Lots of them hard-to-find.

3. I don't part with things easily. I've got the ownership bug, and once I own something, I want to keep owning it. I'll lend out things to friends, then wind up buying a replacement for myself when I don't get it returned in a timely manner. That empty slot on the wall bugs me until I fill it.

Now, at a few points in my life, I replaced formats. My LPs and cassettes became CDs. My RCA Videodisc collection became VHS, and then DVD and Blu-Ray. These newer formats were improvements over the older ones, so I didn't mind upgrading. Like any collector, I wanted the best.

Then things began to get weird.

I had a wall of CDs. A whole wall of them. After the Herculean task of ripping them to mp3s, I noticed I wasn't listening to the physical CDs anymore. My stereo spent a year gathering dust, because I had good speakers on my computer, and an iPod. That lead to an iPhone, iPad, and auxiliary jacks in my car stereos.

Finally, I embraced Apple Airport, and set-up speakers throughout my home, so I could stream music from my computer to any room using my iPhone and iTunes.

The stereo, and the CDs, went bye-bye.

I still like to collect music. I simply no longer needed the tangible object that held the media (LP, cassette, CD.)

Slowly but surely, the same thing is happening with my movie collection. On each of my TVs I have WD Live Hub devices. These stream video files from my computer. It only takes a few minutes to rip an HD DVD to an mkv or iso file, which then sits on my hard drive and can be watched in any room in the house. It can also be taken when travelling--much easier than taking a stack of CDs.

I became so used to using iTunes as a way to organize my music, I bought a program called Movie Collector to keep track of the movies and TV shows I own. Now I can browse my collection on my computer, or my iPhone. I'm also happy streaming Netflix and Hula from the WD devices.

So my physical music collection is gone, and my physical movie collection may some day be gone.

But I always thought I'd keep all my books. Books are special. There's a much greater emotional attachment to them.

At least, I thought there was.

But, like music and movies, I realized all I really cared about was having a copy available if I needed it. And that copy didn't need to be made of paper, taking up space in my house.

I knew this would happen eventually. I predicted it would, a year and a half ago. (In that past year and a half, it turned out I was right about a lot of stuff, and it's worth following that link and all the links mentioned in that old blog entry because they're more relevant than ever, and they'll likely answer all the objections that come up to this post.)

In that same year and a half, I've bought ten paper books, mostly from my peers when attending their signings.

I've also bought over 200 ebooks. Including many that I already had in paper.

So now I'm doing what I did when I got digital copies of music and movies I already owned--I'm getting rid of the hard copy.

I was shocked at how little this bugged me, to actually give away books. Some of which I've had for decades.

But it was easy. And it won't stop with this first batch.

As I buy more ebooks, I'll get rid of the paper versions.

In some cases, I'm getting rid of the paper versions without having the ebook replacement. Simply knowing I can get the ebook if I need it is enough peace of mind to allow me to let the paper version go.

I've got ComicZeal4 for my iPad, which reads color pdf and cbr files brilliantly. So long to all of my mags and comic books.

Some say that the cloud will eventually replace all ownership. Rather than have a movie or book in your personal collection, it will be available to you whenever you need it, in any format, for a rental fee or as part of your ISP. I'm skeptical about this, because I believe people still do want to own media. But that media doesn't have to be physical. It can be a digital copy.

Correction. It will be a digital copy.

You got rid of your 8-track tapes, and floppy disks, and Betamax. You got rid of your Razr and bought a smart phone. You threw out the tube TV and went with an HD flatscreen. You sold your Atari 2600 at a garage sale for $5, and now play Wii with your family.

The new tech replaces the old tech. Books are just more of the same.

You may not believe me. You may think you'll take your paper books with you to the grave.

Do me a favor, and bookmark this page. Look at it again in 18 months.

You'll see I was right.

160 comments:

Mike Grant said...

I've been doing the same thing. Spent the weekend sorting out rubber maid totes of old comic books. The valuables ones stayed...the others...donating to elementary schools (kids still appreciate physical ownership).

You should post a few photos of your collections...would love to see it.

Also...where did the books go? Did you also donate, re-gift, sell?

Mike

WDGagliani said...

Boy, Joe, that's a tough one.

Signed books? I love my signed books.

You're probably right about what's coming, but I'll have a hard time giving those up. Taking them with me? Probably not... but leaving them to someone who will treasure them too, that I can see. Although there may not be anyone left who will treasure them, I suppose.

As for CDs, I agree they take up a lot of space, but I still like flipping through the notes. I suppose I'll change eventually.

I'm all for progress, but this is kind of depressing. When I take my Tim Powers "The Stress of Her Regard," the Charnel House very limited "denim" edition off my shelves and flip through Tim's own illustrations, I can't imagine seeing it only on a screen.

Or my slipcased copy of "Psycho," signed by the great Robert Bloch...

I'll probably change, though. Sigh...

Are there any books you will NEVER get rid of? (And if you're giving some away, can I give you my address?)

Robert Collins said...

I noticed the same thing happening to me a while back. I've been getting rid of my "stuff" and replacing it with digital files. At the time I was reminded of the George Carlin bit about "stuff." I wrote a column on it for my online newspaper (naturally).

Question is, what do you do with the space that gets freed up? I'm still working on that one here.

Jude Hardin said...

I got a Kindle for Christmas last year, haven't bought a dead tree book since. I'm a minimalist at heart, and I hate clutter, so the transition has been altogether painless for me.

Edward G. Talbot said...

I am the son of a man whose career the past 40 years has been as a hand bookbinder of special editions. And I don't miss my paper books from traditional publishers.

I moved last year and that's what did it for me. A few thousand books became about 200. Some of the remaining are not available in digital format. Some are signed or otherwise special because of knowing the authors (or being bound by my dad). A few with charts and diagrams don't translate well to digital yet (I say yet - the technology is there so it's only a matter of time.)

But half the remaining are simply items that I keep because I may re-read them and their digital prices range from $7.99 to $14.99 from tradpub. If they were available for $4.99, traditional publishers would be a few hundred dollars richer.

In terms of the cloud - my gut says most people will embrace it over the next few years and that those of us who want to at least own a digital copy we control are a small minority and will get smaller with each passing month/year. Most people just go with the flow, the same way most readers don't care about DRM, don't care to leave reviews, don't care about author promotions and giveaways and tweets and facebook, etc, etc.

That's something we don't have to be right about yet. Not until the cloud starts spawning new twists on content and content presentation, which it certainly will, and soon.

Mike Fook said...

I've bought and re-bought books over the years, sometimes 5 times or more. I move a lot. When I move, there is this big decision process - what to take? Books are heavy. Many times they are given away before I move, or thrown away.

Here in Thailand I bought some paperback books 5-6 years ago and they are sitting in a box at my bro-in-law's in Bangkok. He could probably sell them for something. He makes $266/month. Guess I'll let him sell the books. lol.

One problem is that Kindle STILL doesn't have many of the books I want in digital copy yet. Couple more years and we'll have everything in ebook format, and hopefully in the $3 range, not $7-10.

Jude Hardin said...

Of course I'll never get rid of my copy of the anthology These Guns for Hire, signed by the editor. ;)

Ellen Fisher said...

I have a house full of books. I got rid of a bunch when we moved, but I may not bother to get rid of any more, simply because I like the way they look in my library. But when I read novels, I prefer an electronic version (I've even been known to download a Kindle edition of a paperback I already own). Pretty much the only paper books I buy nowadays are graphic novels.

Mike Pascale said...

Hi, Joe--
First time reader. (Sent over from LinkedIn.)

So far it seems like a great blog; as a fellow writer I look forward to learning more of your efforts and experiences. (I've had two short stories published but working on that cliché first novel.)

I can relate to this post for the most part. I never thought I'd replace my LPs as it just seemed like such a scam at the time (CDs cost less to produce but cost more to buy at the time) but I did--or at least what I could find on CD. I have lots of discs and my iTunes library is growing. But I have no easy/cheap way to play them in any room other than on the computer(yet) so I'll stick to both for now.

Regarding books, boy can I relate. My wife and I have a bedroom devoted to the library, and actively seek out used books at estate and garage sales. (First visit to Powell's Books in Portland this year--came back with two boxes.)

I agree to your point with some of them. But being an artist first, there's just way too many art books I have that will never make it to an eBook--or if they do, the pics will be so small and awful they won't work. (Thinking Russ Cochran's gorgeous hardbound EC Library, IDW's Artist Editions, 11x14 books of master paintings and drawings, early 20th century ERB editions, complete Calvin & Hobbes, Frazetta Ace paperbacks, Kirby Unleashed portfolio and book, etcetera.) Not to mention the limited signed and numbered editions...I'd hate to have someone sign the screen of a Kindle. :-)

Plus, I like the idea of reading a mag at breakfast or in the john, taking a beat-up paperback anywhere I like, even in the bathtub. If I drop it or damage it, I can still read it. Or buy a new one for a buck.
If an iPad or Kindle goes into the drink, or breaks, there goes my whole library. (Unless I have a current backup, which would still need to be reloaded once I shell out $$$ for new hardware.) Unlike you and others, I'm far too clumsy to rely on the cloud.

I think both can co-exist--at least in my library. Like my music, I'll get rid of some and keep some. Heck, I haven't had a turntable for ten years but I'm still buying vinyl at 1 or 2 bucks each for the gorgeous artwork. Hard to frame an MP3 on the wall.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you want to sell me your 12-cent-or-less cover-price comics, I'll give you double cover price for 'em. They're just taking up space, after all! :-)

Thanks again for the thoughtful thoughts. I wish you continued success in your endeavors.

Werner said...

What a coincidental and timely post. I was doing the same thing this week.

When hurricane Irene was coming I thought for sure my lower level office would flood so I set to move my books. As I stacked them in bins to move to higher ground, I realized I no longer needed them, would read them in this format, or wanted them taking up space in my office.

Now I did discriminate, I sorted the books into fiction and non-fiction stacks. Almost all of the fiction books went, except a few collector and signed novels. Most that went were hardcover and trade paperbacks. Some of the non-fiction ones went too. Typically the outdated how-to’s.

In any case, my library got several boxes of books this past week – 165 books in all. It felt good to let them go.

Now what do I fill up the space with next…

Fingers Murphy said...

This is hilarious because I've been doing the same thing too.

I had a weird experience last weekend where a house up the street had a garage sale. The guy had a ton of great crime fiction he was selling. Cheap. Just giving it away. Normally, I'd drag a box of stuff home. I'm just can't help myself.

But this time was different. I spent about a half hour picking through the stuff very judiciously. I did buy a few things, but even with those, once I got them home I found myself asking what the hell I was going to do with them. Physical books have become clutter.

I'm sure I'll always keep some books in the house, but I'm pretty much done buying new ones. And, over time, the collection I decide to keep is going to get smaller and smaller.

josephinewade said...

We got rid of enough books to fill a full wall sized bookshelf. The only books I am keeping are the school books and a few books that I just don't think I could part with -- yet.
I agree knowing the books are available 24/7/365 is some how freeing. Same thing with music and movies.

I'm going to look into some of those devices you mentioned.

Michelle said...

I had three floor to ceiling bookcases packed with books. In addition, boxes of books stuffed in every closet in my house. Now? I have three paper books. They are out of print and not available in digital format (yet). The rest of my titles are in digital format.

When the three books I have left are availabe digitally - I'll be a paper book free home.

Michelle,author Concilium available digitally July 2012.

www.michelle-pickett.com
Twitter: Michelle_kp

Joe Konrath said...

where did the books go? Did you also donate, re-gift, sell?

Some to friends, the rest to the local thrift shop.

Are there any books you will NEVER get rid of?

I've got a copy of every edition of each of the books I've written. I'll keep those. I'll also keep my friends' books--FPW, Crouch, Eisler, etc.

Question is, what do you do with the space that gets freed up?

Beer.

One problem is that Kindle STILL doesn't have many of the books I want in digital copy yet.

I want a device, or service that scans my paper books into Kindle files.

I'd pay a pretty penny for such a device/service.

there's just way too many art books I have that will never make it to an eBook

For now. I'm holding out hope for the iEasel. A sixty inch screen for displaying art books. Could also put a flatscreen into a coffee table, read on that using a remote to turn pages. Or a TV would work too.

Physical books have become clutter.

Indeed. Watch how more and more people embrace this idea.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm really surprised how many people are agreeing with this post. I expected some serious disagreement.

What a difference 18 months makes...

Simon Haynes said...

I've been ditching my precious paperbacks all year. Used to be I had over 3000 of them, with home-made shelves in every hallway and room throughout my house. Now many of the shelves are bare and I'm wondering what to make from the timber.

Joseph D'Agnese said...

I don't think I would ever get rid of my hard-copy autographed books. Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald aren't around to sign their ebooks. Books autographed by these authors are more than books. Tellingly, I've been moving them to a better place in my home, probably as a prelude to ditching the paper books that just aren't in the same class.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm wondering what to make from the timber.

Robot strippers.

Trust me. Robot strippers are awesome. Especially robot strippers filled with cocaine.

You should use that wood to make robot strippers filled with cocaine.

A.G. Claymore said...

I would love nothing more than to have all my books on my eReader but there is one problem. Most of them are from the big legacies and I would have to pay at least 130% of the hard copy price to replace them.
Until those jerks stop charging more for eBooks than they do for hard copy, I'll stick with my existing collection (but I'm not going to reward their extortion by buying their paperbacks either).

josephinewade said...

I will say one annoying thing happened recently is when we did our iPad update it completely wiped out the iBooks PDFs. That wasn't good. So digital isn't destruction proof.

Archangel said...

the answer to book clutter is not more bookcases, more bins, more storage. It is less storage, and then the cull begins. Serious cull con zombie helpers who will not let loose a book until it is safely outdoors in truck. Surprised Steve King hasnt written The Cuuuullllll. Ooooo.

Have shelves of books in garage... history, art, current events, biographies, cookbooks, you name it. Next week. Sign goes up. Huge book sale: all bks $1. I expect to have nothing left, all are in prime condition, as new, and many go back 60 years. It's time here, not bec of kindle exactly, but because there comes a time when you can afford real insulation for the house walls and dont have to gerry-rig it. Ok ok, kidding. But, for reals, time to let others read these, find nice homes...

Anonymous said...

You can't knock a bitch out with a Kindle.

Milton Bagby said...

What you have to imagine is that the ebook of today--the Kindle, the Nook, the Kobo--will someday be a flexible piece of material you can fold up like a sheet of paper. You'll have several lying around the house so that anyone can pick one up and read a book, check out music, watch movies, or listen to audiobooks. It's totally wireless. It doesn't plug into anything and nothing plugs into it. It passively recharges itself by lying around in ambient light. It never loses a charge. Library? Stick it in your pocket.

John Hornor said...

You know what's making a comeback? Vinyl records. Turns out, there's something about analog sound - the fuzziness of it, the softening of the edges - that is warmer and more pleasing to the ear to many people. More so than high bitrate Flac files.
Then there's the ritual of placing a disc on a turntable and setting the needle and listening to the whole side of an album as a single piece of music.

You are probably right about how it will be in 18 months. That's somewhat of a short term view. I'm interested in how it will be in ten years. Twenty. Will the majority of prose be on some device? Shit, I hope not. There is something to be said for books. They're elegant. They are, for what it's worth, what we've founded much of civilization on - passing on knowledge through the printed word. I don’t know. The idea of a society where books – physical books – are rare or at a premium is anathema to me. And the idea that large corporations with names like Amazon and Apple become the gatekeepers and masters of the devices we’ll do all of our reading on… fuck that noise. You buy a book, you at least own that bastard and you don’t have to worry about technical difficulties or internet access. Or even electricity.

I think there's going to be some pushback, eventually. When people keep putting out 50k word ebooks three times a year, desperate to get enough content out there at $.99 or $2.99 so that they have a better chance at making money (and don't get me wrong, I’ve released ebooks, I'm no better)... that has a serious effect on literature as a whole. It takes the focus away from craft, or even artistry, and refocuses it on product.

So, yeah, bookmark this page and let's revisit the situation in 18 months. And then lets come back in 10 years and see everything we've lost from this mad rush to ebooks and proclaiming print deal. It might be that people have become nostalgic for books, pulp and glue and thread. And hopefully, like vinyl, they’ll make a comeback.

I hope you don’t regret selling your books.

clr said...

I still have all my vinyl, which I have moved across the ocean, and back, and to the West Coast, and back East. And the CD's - which include thousands of live bootlegs - and, of course, the books.

I have the core CD library burned to MP3. It's a huge chunk of the wall in my very small living room. I'm not quite ready to let them go... yet.

I notice my conversion the most in my writing process. I used to have to cart notebooks and accordion files and start a big plastic box with articles or photographs or things I need to consult. Now, it all goes into Evernote. I don't have to worry about losing the notebook or forgetting the notebook and it syncs to all my devices. It was always part of the tradition to choose a new notebook. I've survived.

I have a friend, 10 years younger than me, who is all about having as few possessions as she can so she is always mobile. She has the kind of job she can do from anywhere. She could work 3 months in Spain and 2 months in Ireland and travel inbetween. I have - stuff.

Although tonight I just bought a colleague's book at a book party and had him sign it. So...

I'm trying. The flesh is willing but the spirit is weak.

J.A. Marlow said...

More and more of my paper books are going. Some I'm replacing on Kindle, some I'm not.

Oh, and I'm reading more than ever thanks to ebooks. It feels great!

By the way, I still have an Atari with a box full of cartridge games. :P

J.A. Marlow

Kate Evangelista said...

My brother has the same attitude, actually. He's embracing the digital. So, this is me thinking aloud: What happens if you get a virus? Or what happens if your hard drive crashes? Or an EMP knocks out all electronic devices? Okay, the last one is a stretch, but you get what I mean. What happens if you lose the digital copies? With a book or a CD or a DVD, they are still there, unless they get lost in some other way like a fire or what not. Okay, I'm losing my train of thought.

Anita said...

I already believe you.

Marie Simas said...

I did this a few months ago. All my books, all my files, everything was either scanned or donated. I even shredded photos-- I just kept digital copies.

It's an incredible, liberating feeling. I've even toyed with getting rid of all my jewelry.

Ownership of physical objects just ties us to the past.

The incomprehensibly hot Gabriel Saporta, (lead singer of Cobra Starship) said it best-- Nostalgia is the Failure of True Emotion!

"The past shackles us. And living in the present means letting go of the past; and not just letting go/getting through the bad, but forgetting the good as well."

You aren't the only one banging this drum, Joe, and I'm glad.

Bobby Polo said...

I'm the type who has collected books for years, even ones I don't read. I love them, have the space, so I just gather them by the bunches. Don't see myself getting rid of them anytime soon, but I'll definitely bookmark this page.

wannabuy said...

A friend sat on his Kindle 2 yesterday. No worries about lost books... Whispersync even brings him back to the correct pages. :) There just isn't a way to loose digital the way Amazon is doing it!

@John:"You know what's making a comeback? Vinyl records."
That's cool. Last I looked
2.8 million vinyl records in 2010.
0.5% of the market.

http://aqpq.org/2011/01/17/1697/

Readers are split between the young and the 45+. The young won't be buying nostalgia. The 45+ need large fonts and that means ebooks.

There will be a nostalgia phase in print books. It will be like wurlitzer jukeboxes; a comeback for those with big houses to fill.

Neil

David Wisehart said...

Last year when I changed apartments I gave away over 2,000 books. I still have over 1,000 in my collection. In the years ahead, I expect to continue downsizing my physical library.

It wasn't easy giving up all those books. But it's not easy moving them, either.

David

wannabuy said...

Oh, my friends replacement for the sat upon K2? Amazon is sending a replacement K2 w/3G for $40!

Neil

Venus de Hilo said...

Based on the comments so far, those of us who still load up on paper books at the annual library fundraiser sale (in spite of happy Kindle ownership) are going to be very happy this year. I don't keep 'em, BTW: paper editions get passed on or redonated.

DanneGirl said...

I really needed this post. I'm not completely sure why. Maybe it was to know that other ppl are doing this. That I'm not alone or crazy for rebuying things in a new format while getting rid of the old. Once again I came here at the right time.

Ellis Jackson said...

It's a shame you can't rip a book in the same was as a film or a CD. I guess one day we will be able to store our ebooks on a hard drive and access it via all our reading devices, but for the moment we are tied into the Nook or the Kindle.

Still, seems a shame to get rid of all those signed copies. They really are something special. That really can't be replaced with digital.

Anonymous said...

I'm forever thankful to Amazon Kindle for two primary reasons: 1) for making it possible for me to afford more books and 2) for setting me free from being a slave to book clutter.

Oh, I still have my trusted, frequently consulted non-fic titles, but buying fiction on paper is a thing of the past and I feel much better for it.

BK Jackson
http://www.bkjackson.blogspot.com

Solarman9 said...

On one level I agree with you. But there will always be hold outs. I have a kindle and offered to buy my father one, but he declined, he said he just likes the feel of a book.

I will always keep my movies. I have about 200 VHS and have about 400 blu/dvd. When people want to watch Star Wars as it was originally made, you need to go back to old dvd and vhs. The blu ray is how Lucas wants it to be, not how I remember it as the first movie I ever saw.

Some things will always have sentimental attachments for people. I have signed books and original comics i could never get rid of. You can't get a digital book signed by an author and cherish it. That is why I think books will survive on some level.

S Alini said...

I understand and agree with the reasoning. But I just can't let go. At least not yet.

The Strange Journal of the Boy Henry

alinibooks.blogspot.com

S Alini said...

And this might eventually be enabled on ereaders but I like to be able to write things in a book - underline or highlight a funny line of dialog, an interesting comment... etc.

Katie said...

The comment " the remaining are simply items that I keep because I may re-read them and their digital prices range from $7.99 to $14.99 from tradpub. If they were available for $4.99, traditional publishers would be a few hundred dollars richer" summed it up for me.

I find myself frowning at my over cluttered bookshelves every time I walk by and would love to clean them up by replacing with reasonably priced e-Books.

Romana Grimm said...

@Katie: Me too! My chicklit and paranormal romance titles are already spilling out of their shelf space. *sigh*

Aric Mitchell said...

Wow Joe, I thought I was the only person in the world that remembered RCA VideoDiscs. This seems relevant to the vinyl issue, so I'll say it. I'm thinking of doing a home theater at my place, and was in the market to purchase some of the old RCAs because the artwork was beautiful and they'd make great wall decor. I think this urge to continue buying vinyl is why the format has sort of made a comeback. Decor and maybe the occasional listen for nostalgic reasons.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with you Joe, but in this instance I think you are only partially right. E-books will become more and more common, but I still think paper books will be around, people will still buy them. I hope so anyway, because I find the prospect of a totally digital library quite depressing.

Anne Gallagher said...

Yes, but someday these may be "antiques" and fetch a lot of money for my daughter. lol.

I do still have 8 traks, and record albums, and cassettes. I still own VHS movies. And I have two walls in my office full of books. Funny, how I feel more comfortable letting go of books than I do music.

Andy Conway said...

I've carried around my library like a badge of honour for the last 25 years and am only now starting to box it up and take it to the charity shop.

My books have come with me in many house moves. I used to laugh at my parents complaining 'Why have got so many books?' - as if all you needed was one. Well maybe they were visionaries, because i'm looking at my newly acquired Kindle and getting seriously turned on by its potential to replace the 2000+ books in my cramped flat. (I used the phrase 'turned on' about a Kindle. I apologise).

These books have followed me in boxes all around the UK, and over to Hungary and then Germany, and back again, and I thought I'd never be without them and I'm still thinking of that big house i'll some day have with the study full of books on shelves. I guess I've been thinking about it for so many years I still have to remind myself it's never going to happen.

The books are going and the Kindle is filling up. It feels very liberating.

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 6 down, 5 to go
Meet me in Montmartre, a blind date in Paris, out now...

Juli Monroe said...

I don't just think you're right. I know you're right. I've been doing the same thing with books, and I've virtually stopped buying DVDs. With Netflix, I can get what I need. We just started giving away books to the library, and we're only saving the signed copies or the ones that look good on the shelves. (Books as decorations.)

Jen Talty said...

Going all digital was a no brainer move for me and my family--sort of. My husband is just as into new gadgets and shinny things like I am. Going from Records/Tapes to CD was a blast. We sold all our Records to the Record Archive. My DH likes to organize (almost as much as me), so when it was time to go from CD to MP3, he had a little too much fun putting all those CD's into a massive hard drive to be easily accessed by entire family. We have 4 DVR boxes. The house is wired for surround sound...everywhere, with some sub woofer thing. And when I gave him an iPad for Christmas, he even downloaded a book AND read it. He's not a big reader. Until now, the only book he's ever completed (besides one of mine) was some 800 page on the art of Putting. Yes, weird, I know.

But, and this is a big But...I have not gotten rid of a single book. This coming from a woman who has had the Kindle since it first came out. Who was published with two different ePublishers. Who reads a ton... on her iPad now (gave my kindle to my youngest and he actually uses it even though it's not as cool as an ipad). I'm not really buying new physical books, though I still buy a few depending on the price of the eBook. I really struggle with the higher prices of publishers. But my office is still filled with books. I have 4 book shelves full. I just like looking at them when I write. I don't know why, but I do. I'm hoping that maybe the talent on my shelves will someone manifest itself into my writing. Now, if they can just come up with a digital grocery shopping device so I don't have to go to the grocer store, well that would make my day.

antares said...

I own a treasured copy of Robert Heinlein, The Green Hills of Earth, that I bought in high school for $0.50, but I read my Kindle copy.

I do not foresee the day when I will give up my volumes of Bloom County and Outland.

But I bought a paper copy of The Federalist Papers about the same time I got my Kindle and downloaded a copy to it. Never opened the paper volume.

I have swung hard to Kindle. I have hundreds of books bought and downloaded. Magazine subscriptions. Have one paper subscription that I want to switch over now that the publisher has a Kindle version.

The Kindle has increased my reading volume at least fourfold. Maybe an order of magnitude.

Eve Langlais said...

Loved your post because it sounds like me. I ditched the cds once I got them on my computer and mp3. Stopped buying DVD's more than year ago and I've been donating my paperbacks to our local Goodwill store. But, I can't let go of my hardcovers yet. I've bought three paperbacks in the last year (only because the ebooks were twice the price) compared to several hundred e-books. My bookcases, which used to overflow--and made me sneeze with the dust--are thanking me. And without the need for all that shelf space, my office is bigger, and yet I still have more to read than I ever did. :)

Monica Shaughnessy said...

I think you're mostly right. Especially when it comes to paperback fiction, reference, and magazines. Especially magazines! I plan on getting rid of much of what I own to free up space, just as you said.

However, I also collect vintage cookbooks. Rare volumes from the 1920's and '30's. These will probably never be digitized. And I know that I could scan them, but to me, they're not just 'information,' they are a piece of history--which includes their physicality.

I also have a shelf full of books that I owned as a child, the inside flap signed by long-dead relatives--again, very significant to me.

So, I think when a book crosses that threshold, when it goes from being a collection of words to a memento of the past (and not a relic of the past), it's worth keeping.

Mark Terry said...

I'm already doing it. A few months ago I moved my office from a large basement office to a smaller upstairs office. (My youngest son wanted my office space and frankly, I wanted the window and the warmer room in the winter). I had to downsize my books. Pretty easy to give them away.

I've still got more to give away, I just need to find the time to get organized. There are some authors I still buy in paper, but not nearly as many.

Haven't really bought a music CD in a couple years. And I'm inclined to buy movies I want on the computer, as well as TV shows.

Phil Hall said...

Joe,

I hate to break this news to you, but what you did (rip the CD to MP3 and junk the CD) is technically a federal crime. In order to use the MP3 you have to keep the CD as the "license to listen" comes from the physical media. *Technically* means that RIAA could choose to press charges if they learned about it, but chances are they won't because--honestly--it's not like you're some big-name audio pirate ("Avast, Matey!"). You're just a regular consumer like most of us. They have bigger fish to fry. But still, that's why I kept all my DVDs even though they're all ripped to a hard drive for my entertainment center...lawsuits abound and I'd rather not get one.

Just an FYI.

amsterdamassassin said...

Books? Sure. But MP3s do not sound a great as my CDs. Not noticeable over my speakers, but when I'm alone, blissing out in my hammock chair with my Grado headphones on... yes, I can hear the difference.

Likewise, the European graphic novel collection I started when I was eight won't be digitized anytime soon.

Lovelyn said...

I've been doing a lot of moving recently. I sold a bunch of books before my last move and I'm moving again in a few months and expecting to sell some more. Digital is so much more convenient.

J.M.Cornwell said...

What about signed first editions or rare books? Don't those make a difference?

Lori Devoti said...

I've been eyeing my bookcase with the same idea.

billie said...

I don't need to come back in 18 months - I have started the same clearing out process already - after getting the Kindle for Christmas last year. It took about six months for me to start viewing the shelves of books in the house as something that needed "clearing" - but now every time I go into town I take a sack of books with me to drop off at the thrift store.

There are a few I will keep, but my guess is that will be one bookcase full instead of the many, many that are stuffed right now.

The only actual print books I'm buying are those that either aren't e-books OR cost so much as e-books I can't bring myself to spend the money. If I really want to read it I have been looking for used copies.

I'm surprised at how quickly I became unattached to having the physical book in my hand/on my shelf - I've hauled my books from NC to Texas to California and back again, many of them have been with me for 25+ years. And suddenly, I'm completely willing to drop them off at the thrift store!

Donna K. Weaver said...

And Kindle has a way to get author signed copies now to add to your file.

J.D. Cannon said...

Great post, Joe.

I read it while drinking my morning espresso and looking at the stacks of books surrounding me floor to cieling...maybe it's time for them to go.

Oh, yeah...and the tv repair guy is downstairs fixing my large screen tube tv...I'm so damn slow to adopt new technology.

J.D.

Jon Olson said...

Well, you're a better man that I. I can't do it, couldn't do it. Let's somebody cart the books out when I die. That's good enough for me.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone

Joe Konrath said...

Until those jerks stop charging more for eBooks than they do for hard copy, I'll stick with my existing collection

Or you can pirate them. You already paid for them once, so you technically own the rights. An ebook is just like a backup.

So digital isn't destruction proof.

Dropbox, Mozy, and many other file backup systems exists for free.

will someday be a flexible piece of material you can fold up like a sheet of paper.

I've blogged about how electronics were becoming so cheap they are disposable. Things can only get cheaper and better.

And then lets come back in 10 years and see everything we've lost from this mad rush to ebooks

Vinyl is a niche market. Print will be the same thing. The only thing we will have lost is tree genocide.

but I still think paper books will be around, people will still buy them.

I'm not saying they won't. They'll just be the a subsidiary right, with much smaller sales than ebooks.

I hate to break this news to you, but what you did (rip the CD to MP3 and junk the CD) is technically a federal crime.

So is smoking weed and having sex in public places and driving 140 mph.

I break lots of laws. :)

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

RCA Videodisc collection? Are you a time traveler??

But I agree with you 100%. I started getting rid of boxes of DTB books, Cds and non Blu-ray DVDs last summer. It was so freeing not to have to worry about storing/moving that stuff ever again, plus the extra square footage has been great for zombie jiu-jitsu practice.

Joe Konrath said...

But MP3s do not sound a great as my CDs.

Rip them to a lossless format, like flac, ape, or shn.

What about signed first editions or rare books

With the internet, there won't be anything rare anymore, at least in terms of the availability of text. As for rare paper books, I'd sell them now, while there's still a market for them.

I'm tempted to rip out the signed page of all of my signed books (I have hundreds) and make a scrapbook out of it. Sacrilegious? Perhaps. But it'll take up a lot less space, and I can still leaf through it for the memories.

Joe Konrath said...

Oh, yeah...and the tv repair guy is downstairs fixing my large screen tube tv

The repair is going to cost more than a new flatscreen will. They're ridiculously cheap now.

Michelle Muto said...

The geek in me loves this post. I've been going digital and de-cluttering my home for about a year or so now.

My bills are ebills. 95% of the paper in my filing cabinet will soon go the way of 8-track tapes. I'm happily scanning things using a ScanSnap & some geekery on my Mac. Drive space is cheap. I even derailed from the subject of writing and such to write a few posts on going paperless several months back.

Like you, I've ripped all my music. I never listen to my music CD'. I'd buy the digital version and ditch the physical, but I can't afford it. Still, all the CD's are now in boxes instead of someplace that requires dusting.

I'm also ripping movies. All these movies will go into plastic storage boxes like the CDs. Boxes stack on top of one another and fit in a spare room's closet quite nicely.

We rarely buy physical books. Usually, they're the ones sitting on Border's bargain table. Even then, I'll check B&N & Amazon to see if I can get the digital copy for the same price. All things considered, I'll take the digital copy.

My mantra?

Everything you must have owns you.

Douglas Dorow said...

I've been in a bookstore 3 times in the last year and a half since my wife gave me my kindle for my birthday, and that was so my daughter could go in and buy magazines to read on a trip.

I've given boxes of books away or sold them to Half Price Books.

I've heard authors talk about their readers they've talked to, who are retired and down sizing from their big homes into condos who don't have the space and don't want to move all of their books. They've converted to digital with adjustable font for their aging eyes and portability.

The snowball is rolling down the hill and gaining momentum across the age groups.

rictheturtleryan said...

What happens when Amazon comes out with a second generation Kindle and all your old stuff will not transfer. Looking at the evolutions of music and computer programs that is one thing that bugs me. I think getting rid of stuff is just part of sensing our mortality. If I had signed books I do not think I could get rid of them. I do have one question though. If I had an on demand copy of one of your books printed that is not available in paper and I come to one of your events, will you sign it? Just curious...Thanks for the thought provoking Blog////

Todd Trumpet said...

Wow, to think I was actually ahead of Konrath on the De-Booking curve!

In anticipation of a housing change, I gave away nearly all my paper-bound volumes about 2 years ago, something like 800+ books. Not only wasn't it difficult...

...it was freeing.

No more boxes to lug around. No more stacks of books to dust. I would hardly ever refer to them, and I didn't need them as Wall Art nor Taste Statement.

So, Goodwill.

Experts on de-cluttering say if you don't even see let alone use something for over a year, you don't need it and should get rid of it. This applies to clothing, knick-knacks...

...and books.

Welcome to a lighter you!

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Joe Konrath said...

What happens when Amazon comes out with a second generation Kindle and all your old stuff will not transfer.

This seems to be a persistent fear.

I have DRM busting software. When I buy something, I kill the DRM. That allows me to save files in different formats.

That said, it is unlikely Amazon will abandon their current file format. It has sold too many. If they change formats, the new device will likely be backwards compatible--like the current generation of videogames are. The PS3 can play PS2 and PS1 games.

TheSanPintoTimes said...

I can see the point of digital ebooks being the future and the future is now and all of that good stuff...but...throwing out paperbook seems a bit extreme. What happens if your computer is stolen or the files are corrupted. I'm keeping my books.......But Eh, whatever floats your boat.

I predict our brains will go digital and we will throw out that gushy mass that sits between our shoulders.

The Munk said...

When will we see author signed e-books? With dedications - even numbered.
Perhaps the technology has already arrived? Anyone?
Tom

MT Nickerson said...

Joe, you underestimate nostalgia. You can give me all your books and when everyone has thrown out their paper copies, I'll be sitting on a gold mine.

18 months? I'll buy a paper book in 18 months and add it to my shelf, next to my shelf that holds my brand new records for my record player.

I don't think I'm alone or in danger of loneliness in 18 months.

SBJones said...

I hope you have a good backup system. Even if you have all of the original media, the time it takes having to re-rip everything will be a pain.

Ian Martin said...

I live a reclusive life in an isolated seaside resort. When I look out to sea I imagine I can see all the way to Antarctica. Behind me is the dark continent. So my perspective on the world must be very different to yours.

From where I sit it’s hard to understand this obsessive compulsion to buy new stuff in order to throw away old stuff you bought yesterday. It might feel cool to possess the latest gimmicks, hut does it actually improve the quality of your life? Take TV. The last time I looked at the box the content was as vapid as it was ten years ago. Maybe even more so. Now I can watch shit on a huge screen and in high definition, but so what? It’s still shit.

And then there’s your unshakeable belief in the future. It would make me twitchy as hell knowing all my books, music and videos were up there in the Cloud, when the Cloud itself, and access to it are entirely dependent on electricity. If we lived on a peaceful, well run planet it wouldn’t be a problem. But we don’t. And when there’s no power, there’s no fuckall, as they say. But maybe I’m just paranoid. Maybe I should go and live in the real world.

wannabuy said...

The earliest I found discussing 'book clutter' was a year ago in the comments here:
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/08/changing-face-of-publishing.html

In 18 months we've gone from people attacking ebooks for "$0.99 clutter" to it being obvious that book clutter is an issue. Thanks for stimulating the discussion Joe.

Neil

Eve Langlais said...

Joe says: "So is smoking weed and having sex in public places and driving 140 mph.

I break lots of laws. :)"

That's fantastic.

Stephen T. Harper said...

I have a large wicker basket in my closet, overflowing with wires designed to connect and power technologies that no longer exist. So, I'm all for cleaning off the shelves of old technology (and someday I will, but I'm afraid to open that particular closet).

But isn't this how the Planet of the Apes got started? I mean, one jumbo solar flare or E.M. pulse... and all our digital records would be gone. The next step after that is Dr. Zaius and Ape Law.

I'm reasonably sure about this...

Summer said...

At what point in this progression do we get digitally implanted memories of reading that book - so we don't have to store the ebook anymore?

Just think of what college students alone would pay for implanted memories of organic chemistry or calculus.

If you really want to predict the future Joe - you have to be willing to take the next logical leap. ;-)

Love the blog,

Summer

Todd Trumpet said...

Slight correction, Joe:

"...the new device will likely be backwards compatible--like the current generation of videogames are. The PS3 can play PS2 and PS1 games."

Actually, the PlayStation3 can only play PS1 games, NOT the more prevelant PS2 games.

I know because I bought a PS3 - my first gaming console - about 6 months ago when I moved.

And BTW, recalling a post you did a little while back about things that keep you from writing (like making blog replies!)...

...the PS3 makes an excellent W.A.D. (Writing Avoidance Device).

Purchase with caution!

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Sam said...

Joe, this is great...until 2012, when the Mayan calendar tells us that electromagnetic rays from space will erase the Internet and all hard drives. ;-)

Matt J said...

Joe, I live a little bit in both worlds. I bought a Kindle last year and have taken to it voraciously (though I look at those color e-readers with envy). I download at least a few books a month (just read "Tequila" last month - good stuff!), love the convenience, and will be publishing my own e-book in November. However, I am also a bit of a book duffer. I love looking through flea markets, garage sales, and antique stores for older print books and first editions. I still see value in print, which has far more durability than the ephemeral electronic. Formats change, websites change, companies go out of business (Netflix is not invulnerable) - heck, even the power goes out! With the Kindle, of course, you still have ownership of the material, but streaming is a different story. And when your Kindle runs out of charge, you're stuck. You have none of these problems with print. The book is yours, all you need is a candle and a fire extinguisher! At any rate, to take it to the extreme, what if a solar flare during this Max period fries our grid? Not a pretty thought, but having a library of books to read will get you through the hard times until a new grid is built. Anyway, just my two cents . . .

Adam Pepper said...

Vinyl is making a comeback? So are Fortune Tellers. They're a novelty act. When I want to know the weather report I consult the local news not the swami on the corner.

There's nothing wrong with nostalgia and novelty, but they are frivolous luxuries. They will always give way to convenience and praticalities for the masses.

Most people dont get emotionally attached to books. They read them once and move on, and they'll be looking for the most practical and convenient method for that experience.

Joe Konrath said...

The only folks allowed to complain about an EMP or the grid frying are those who live on a self-sustaining farm without electricity---because that's how you'd live if you were truly afraid of losing power.

Also, you have to live in a fireproof, waterproof, disasterproof home, because those things can destroy your precious paper books.

Everyone else needs to stop being silly.

Joe Konrath said...

Sony dropped backwards compatibility, but the first PS3s were fully compatible.

MT Nickerson said...

Adam, paper books are hardly a novelty, and though digital may one day replace paper books in prevalence (if they have not done so already), paper books will not disappear in my life-time. Thousands of years of paper books and in 18 months, they are gone?

Hardly.

And if you don't have an emotional attachment to books, I don't know what to say. I'm sure not on an island by myself in my love of books.

BTW, I don't hate digital. I read books; any way that I can get them, but man, paper books are sexy in a way digital isn't- for me. If not for you, then great. Same thing with vinyl. When I want music, I plug in my digital, when I want atmosphere, I have my records.

And you can send me all your paper books, too. Same offer as Joe.

Adam Pepper said...

Vinyl may be selling a few more copies than last year, but that’s not a comeback. iTunes has no fear of suddenly being put out of business by the triumphant return of Record World. Paper books aren’t a novelty now but give it time. No one said they will disappear off the planet. But they are on the way out, especially for popular fiction and “disposable reading.” You aren’t alone in your romantic views of books, but you are in the minority. Paper books may hang on the same way records have hung on. That’s a novelty. As writers, are we looking to be novelty acts or sell to the masses? Are you looking to be a weatherman or a corner swami? Both have their place.

MT Nickerson said...

Adam, I admit, I don't get your comparison of weatherman or swami. One is valid, while the other is clearly not and both have unique content that don't agree with each other.

Form is what is in question, not
content.

If I write on tree bark, maybe no one reads it, but the words don't change, the content is the same. So, just because words are on paper, that doesn't make them any less valid- or different- than their digital representation. Less accessible in the future? Sure. Akin to a swami? Doesn't jibe.

Writers will produce and sell in the format that sells; I never said different. The point revolves around the idea that paper books are so endangered, that they will soon be gone, that people will purge their homes of paper books, that everyone will have a kindle or nook and no one will buy paper books.

This is false.

It is sad that you believe I am in a minority in my love of books. Maybe in Maine, we are backward, (well, sure, I'm being kind- I know we're backward!) but there are still plenty of us book lovers here.

And why the all or nothing attitude?

Matt J said...

MT, kudos to your post. If one didn't know better, one might think Senor Konrath is personally offended by anyone who disagrees with him. Probably goes with the territory. Someone mentioned how one can't feel true emotion until one has freed oneself of connections to the past. I totally disagree. He's talking about raw emotion. True, deep emotion is about context, identity and maturity. We are in a world which has gotten itself in a big damn hurry (to quote S. King), and anything not electronic or tied down goes overboard. There is no identity anymore, and in terms of writing, there are no "works" (as in works of literature). Everything is about words and information as data; it's all a "Cloud", impersonal, fleeting, ephemeral, floating out there in the ether somewhere . . . Anyway, I thought Joe Konrath wanted some posts from people who actually disagreed with him! Just doing my part.

Joe Konrath said...

Thousands of years of paper books and in 18 months, they are gone?

I didn't say that. Try not to put words in my mouth. This blog is about changing attitudes toward paper books. In 18 months, I'm betting many people will. Many have in the past 18 months.

But I've never said paper will disappear. On the contrary--there are billions of books on the planet. They won't go away anytime soon.

But ebooks are now outselling paper books, and soon paper will be a niche, like vinyl.

I'm sure not on an island by myself in my love of books.

You need to read my many posts from 18 months ago. Books have destination value, not journey value. You can love digital just as much.

iTunes has no fear of suddenly being put out of business by the triumphant return of Record World.

This made me snort.

And why the all or nothing attitude?

Who has an all or nothing attitude? This blog is about the future of books, and it relevant to authors in particular, and readers in general.

No one will take away your paper. You have every right to be attached to it. But don't be surprised, in a few years, when your favorite authors aren't in paper anymore. At least, not for $6.99.

Michael A. Boyadjian said...

What will be interesting to see is how the ISPs react to and approach the shift over to digital content.

Data caps are already in place, causing problems for some people--folks who work from home, film or photo enthusiasts, musicians, etc.

Will service improve to accommodate all of the digital traffic, or will consumers get slapped with fines and other punishments for overstepping data caps?

Joe Konrath said...

If one didn't know better, one might think Senor Konrath is personally offended by anyone who disagrees with him.

That comment personally offends me!

Heh heh. Thanks for disagreeing with me. It drives me nuts when everyone agrees.

it's all a "Cloud", impersonal, fleeting, ephemeral,

Again, I'll point to my blog posts from 18 months ago.

Ebooks are just as personal and emotional as paper books. The story is in your head, not on the page (paper or e-ink.)

I challenge anyone to read Crouch's RUN, or FLEE that I wrote with Peterson, and not be teary-eyed by the end. The story remains the same. Only the delivery system has changed.

Give it a few more years, when people can personalize their Kindles like they do their iPhones. I don't deny we grow attached to objects. But those objects can be circuits and screens the same as paper and clue.

coryvannote said...

Joe,

I can't express how I felt the exact same months ago. I only recently got rid of my CD collection as I too realized, I hadn't touched it in years.

Since getting a Kindle, my physical library has been dwindling down too. A curious thought struck me after reading your post, you have a lot of signed books, with everything going digital, what is going to happen to book signings?

I used to work at a bookstore and it was always enjoyable to have an author come in, talk about their book and sign copies. What is the digital equivalent?

Thanks,
-Cory

Eloheim and Veronica said...

@wannabuy

HELP! A friend of mine sat on her Kindle the other day. Smashed the screen. How is your friend getting a replacement????

Thanks!

Adam Pepper said...

MT, you are making my argument for me. It doesnt matter if I write on tree bark, paper or microsoft word. The words are the same and the reader experiences these words in their head. You are the one emotionally attached to paper. The masses arent. The masses are more interested in convenience, and that's why digital will win out. As to why it has to be all or nothing. It doesnt, for small presses and independents. But for gigantic corporations who answer to stockholders, they are going to go with what makes them the most money. And digital again will win that battle.

I'm a book lover too, but I'm a lover of ideas and concepts, of dreams and imagination. I could give a rats butt about pieces of paper bound with glue and cardboard.

MT Nickerson said...

I don't see this as winning or losing, better or worse. I see it as preference.

And Joe, I have read your blog from 18 months ago, (and unlike many destinations on the web, I am pleasantly agitated by what you write) but on this issue, though I agree with the trajectory you suggest for the rise of digital, 18 months will not see the dramatic change you suggest.

People will not purge their libraries in the same way they have done with music- not in 18 months.

My point with vinyl, stated poorly and briefly, alluded to the fact that even such a small and short-lived media format (in comparison to paper books, certainly) is still hanging in there, thirty years after that format 'died'. There is still a strong emotional attachment to the format choice decades later.

18 months? Paper books will still be emotional attachments that are held as unique formats separate from their digital counterparts.

But... those signed books you mentioned... I'll pay the postage if you want to unload... :)

Joe Konrath said...

People will not purge their libraries in the same way they have done with music- not in 18 months.

Read all the comments. At least twenty people here have done that very thing.

When I wrote my pieces 18 months ago about digital overtaking paper, I still held onto my paper.

Now I'm finally giving it up. Others will do the same.

Not everyone will. There are still folks who collect pogs. But the majority will.

Books will hang on longer than VHS (you can't give VHS tapes away) and still have some collector value, but for the most part they are a technology whose time has come.

Kiana Davenport said...

I've read all these comments and see how print-book purging is a very emotional, personal thing. For me, the ultimate luxury, though, is space. I've purged my life of over 2,000 books in last couple years, its liberating! An empty wall is a sexy thing.

I don't understand half the digital doodads Joe talks about, he's laser-leaps ahead of most of us. But I bet one day he'll be purging some of those gadgets as well. Maybe its human nature. We consume. We divest.

My Chinese uncle used to say, "You only need what you hold in one hand. More than that and what you own, owns YOU."

Conversely, there are a few books I cherish and will never give up. My first book with my mother's handwriting. My copy of MOBY DICK with Rockwell Kent illustrations. My books signed by Norman Mailer, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Rebecca West.

To the guy who lives on a tiny island, if your books give you comfort, keep them!

@Marie Simas...yeah, get rid of the jewelry. Silver and gold values skyrocketing today.

@ JMCornwall, HOLD ON to those signed first editions, and rare books. A book signed by Kafka with a message to a friend just sold for $18,000 at auction. Check all hardback first-editions, find out what they're worth before you guys purge!

@Milton Bagby..I love the image of a future flexible Kindle we can fold up and put in our pockets!

Joe, this was a refreshing, 'confessional ' post! It brought out the human element in all of us. Now back to the hard-core digital world we are all still trying to get a grip on.

MT Nickerson said...

Twenty people on this blog, Joe. Everyone here tends to be of like mind with you. Informal survey of almost that many today who agree with me- or so they say to my face.

18 months and time will tell- slowest death match in history!

Thanks for the confab...

James said...

Joe,

One thing: you don't "own" those e-books--you own a license to use them. And they're not "forever", really, because e-readers and formats will come and go. Unless, of course, you mean "forever" in the sense that those digital source files on your computer are "forever".

I went through a similar process years ago, but I still differentiate the values of a printed book and an e-book. Some of the geekiest people I know do too.

James said...

Also, I think books just might be a different animal than other media. The reductionism of calling books "content" misses the point, I think.

If an e-book costs 99 cents, is stored invisibly, and can be viewed anywhere with a virtual snap of my fingers–how much value can it have? Very little to me, and that's one of the reasons e-books so quickly went to 99 cents. In a few years, I predict authors will be giving them away en masse for the future privilege of potential sales.

Joe Konrath said...

One thing: you don't "own" those e-books--you own a license to use them.

So says the courts.

But you'll take my files when you pry them from my cold, dead hard drive--and if you can find all the back-ups I've made.

Digital media is forever. As long as someone somewhere has a copy, it lives. The very nature of the Internet promotes sharing data--it's the reason it was invented.

If an e-book costs 99 cents, is stored invisibly, and can be viewed anywhere with a virtual snap of my fingers–how much value can it have?


Value is not cover price. It's how much money a book earns.

A 99 cent ebook can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is its value.

Its value to someone who purchases it makes no difference to me. I don't write books to be revered, worshiped, or venerated. I write fun bits of fluff to entertain.

In a world where delivery and reproduction are practically free, a $2.99 price on 8 hours of entertainment is fair to me.

Walter Knight said...

We boyz love our toyz.

James said...

So says the courts.

Actually, so says the Amazon Licensing Agreement. Nobody who purchases your e-book "owns" it, Joe. In fact, there are a lot of similar limitations to owning a Kindle.



But you'll take my files when you pry them from my cold, dead hard drive--and if you can find all the back-ups I've made.

Unless you lose them, or the media degrades (those CDs and hard drives degrade and lose integrity over time) or the file format becomes unreadable, or...

Digital media is forever. As long as someone somewhere has a copy, it lives.

Sure, which is like saying "as long as something exists somewhere, it exists". Same's true of a printed book--in fact, more so than digital media, I'd say. A book printed well on good media can last centuries. A good CD can last 5-10 years before it becomes unstable. A hard drive? Often less.

Value is not cover price. It's how much money a book earns.

C'mon, Joe, that's just *one* measure of value. What a book earns isn't its intrinsic value.

A 99 cent ebook can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is its value.

You're talking about its value to the author's wallet. I'm talking about its value to a reader.

Its value to someone who purchases it makes no difference to me.

I'm surprised at that, but it's consistent with what you've been saying on your blog. Myself, I can't tell what a book's worth to a reader. But I do know that a printed book can have a much higher intrinsic value to me than an e-book, and on the long run, how readers perceive the value of your book will make you care--because it'll help determine price.


I don't write books to be revered, worshiped, or venerated. I write fun bits of fluff to entertain.

Fair enough. Then why worry whether or not e-books are forever?

In a world where delivery and reproduction are practically free, a $2.99 price on 8 hours of entertainment is fair to me.

In fact, the delivery of an e-book has significant infrastructure cost, and that cost doesn't go away over time or after initial buildout. It's a common misconception about technology. It's also why Amazon continues to show a declining profit and rising costs.

wannabuy said...

@Joe:"In a world where delivery and reproduction are practically free, a $2.99 price on 8 hours of entertainment is fair to me."

In particular as it is estimated to cost Amazon only pennies per book to deliver.

@James:"In fact, the delivery of an e-book has significant infrastructure cost, and that cost doesn't go away over time or after initial buildout."
The cost becomes cost per transaction plus cost per megabyte. The cost per transaction is about 2 cents. Most of Amazon's infrastructure costs have been geared towards video. Seriously, if $2.99, which Amazon gets about $0.87 isn't enough, they're in trouble trying to sell under $9.99 videos!

We all know Netflix makes a profit on videos. Amazon moves their videos and their competing service.

The #1 cost to Amazon has been the 'fulfillment centers.' Those involve warehousing, packaging, IT, truck docks, air-transit access, etc.

If books cost that much to deliver, we wouldn't be watching YouTube. We wouldn't have videos selling dolls at the Disneystore.com.

There is a big cost in maintaining ebook sales. That cost doesn't vary much if you have 10% or 100% of the market. :)

Neil

Tracy Lynn said...

I was the same way, especially with my books, lots of first editions of my favorite authors, and when I moved from Maine to Seattle a few years ago, I sold everything but the books and the cats. Three cats and twelve huge boxes of books.
I have had a Kindle for three year or so now and a year ago I sold most of my paper copies. I gave a few of my favorites away.
I don't miss them either, and that was startling for me as well. Partly because I have RA and holding a book is difficult, but also because I realized that the vehicle for the story is, for me, the least important part. And I have a ridiculous number of books on my Kindle. It's awesome.

James said...

Most of Amazon's infrastructure costs have been geared towards video.
No. In fact, one of Amazon's biggest infrastructure costs is its data centers--but video is just one small part of that. Their growing S3 services are expensive.

Seriously, if $2.99, which Amazon gets about $0.87 isn't enough, they're in trouble trying to sell under $9.99 videos!

E-books are a loss leader for Amazon. They're making their money on Kindles. Seriously.

The #1 cost to Amazon has been the 'fulfillment centers.' Those involve warehousing, packaging, IT, truck docks, air-transit access, etc.

Yes and no. Those centers are largely logistical centers. The data centers are elsewhere, and cost more.

Miss Cheyenne Mitchell said...

Love your blog! When you get a chance look at the excerpts from my two supernatural thrillers "SYROIA" and "THE COVERING" on www.misscheyennemitchell.blogspot.com I do hope you are a fan of this genre because you won't be sorry by a long shot!

Shelby Cross said...

I'll take those paper books off your hands. You know why? Cause they're free. I buy an ebook when it's cheaper than print; I buy a print book from the used-book store when it's cheaper than digital; I borrow from the library when I'm not ready yet to spend any money at all on a particular book, 'cause I don't know if I'll like it yet or not.
But I'm always willing to take a chance on something that's free.

Ellen O'Connell said...

I confess to having skimmed the comments here, but in doing so I didn't see anyone mentioning my own #1 reason for ditching paper - I don't want to dust books or bookshelves. I'm sick of having piles of books all over the house.

Not having newspapers and magazines has been a big improvement over the last few years. Just a couple of bookshelves that actually hold all the books I need to keep is wonderful. (I have some that aren't available as ebooks and which probably never will be).

I didn't try to figure gender of those posting here, but I wonder if the majority of those wanting to hang on to paper are male and someone else dusts all those blasted books and shelves.

Selena Kitt said...

I purged over 200 books when we moved. And I still own far far FAR too many! Four huge bookshelves full. And more in storage. I won't get rid of books I use.

Poetry is something I can't read digitally, for example. It doesn't translate on a Kindle. Not for me. I can't read Mary Oliver or William Stafford without a paper book in my hands.

Also, all my gardening books, books about sustainable living, etc. Those are in print. Because, you know, if the world ends, we'll have to know how to grow food and hunt and all that stuff. And I have a feeling, if that happens, Kindles will be useless... :)

But I seriously considered giving away my Stephen King collection. I have them all on Kindle. I don't re-read much anymore (no time!) and they just seemed to be taking up space... but I couldn't do it. So I boxed them.

It was the nostalgic thing that stopped me. I read some of those books as a teenager for god's sake.

But I gave away my LPs years ago... even Pink Floyd's The Wall, with all the cool album art. Maybe I'll get to that point with books some day...

I thought 200 purged was a good start! :) Then I read Kiana's number - 2000!! Sheesh. I got a long way to go...

W. Dean said...

James,

You make some good points, but I had trouble with this one:

“E-books are a loss leader for Amazon. They're making their money on Kindles.”

That’s counter-intuitive. If e-books are a loss leader, why did Amazon make its e-reader proprietary format only? It forces Amazon to supply money-losing e-books through massive investment in data centers. In other words, you’re saying every e-book from a competitor on a Kindle is a savings for Amazon, so why not make the Kindle open to other formats? The only answer is that they are now (or expect to soon) make money off of e-books.

James said...

"That’s counter-intuitive. If e-books are a loss leader, why did Amazon make its e-reader proprietary format only? "

Easy--so you'll buy books from Amazon after buying a Kindle. Closing the loop on the Amazon experience is key.

"In other words, you’re saying every e-book from a competitor on a Kindle is a savings for Amazon, so why not make the Kindle open to other formats?"

To force readers to buy Kindles where they buy their books. The same reason Amazon didn't want Apple interfering in that loop.

To Amazon, it's about a heck of a lot more than books. Books are chump change. It's about eventually selling lots of other products to readers, about developing loyal Amazon customers, about selling lots and lots of Kindles. The mistake authors seem to be making is thinking the Kindle was created for them and their books. Not even close. Amazon's intentions are much larger.

And when Amazon wants to, they'll change the rules. That's why I tell friends not to put all their eggs in the e-book basket, and hitch their career to one single company--but many are, forgetting the lessons of traditional publishing.

The only answer is that they are now (or expect to soon) make money off of e-books."

W. Dean said...

James,

I don’t dispute the basic premise that Amazon is in the money-making business, not the indie author business. I also acknowledge that firms will lose money in the short term to recoup it and more in the future—that’s the definition of investment. But Amazon has to be making money on e-books.

I can buy them losing some customers with the proprietary stuff to win the war on horizontal integration in the future. But it’s costing them a fortune in infrastructure, by your own admission, to deliver e-books that are supposedly losing them money. That’s the implausible part: they wouldn’t spend that kind of money for the sake of some far-off horizontal integration dream.

No, losing the kind of money in the way you’re talking about it would be like General Motors retailing gas at a loss just to “close the loop” on the GM experience for some undefined future gain. Companies just don’t do that.

Joseph D'Agnese said...

It occurred to me yesterday that many of the hard-copy books I buy are bought because they're cheaper than buying a digital copy. If cost is your argument, why buy a $9.99 ebook when you can find a used paper copy for $3.99 on Amazon or less at some used book store?

Someone tell me why.

amsterdamassassin said...

AA: But MP3s do not sound a great as my CDs.

JAK: Rip them to a lossless format, like flac, ape, or shn.

Tried that. The problem is the carrier - my iPod is pressed for space as it is, and to play music from a computer doesn't sound as good. And before you go into that, yes, there are new gadgets that can play lossless files without a computer, etcetera, etcetera.
I don't have the money to buy endless gadgets - I have an excellent stereo and my CDs are stored, so I only keep the four hundred I play regularly near the stereo.

As to wireless transmissions of music - I tried wireless headphones, good ones, but they cannot match the sound quality of my Grados.

With books I don't have this issue - my Kindle has better contrast than most books - but with music I'm a tad more particular. Also, the way my CDs are stored, my 1200+ CDs don't take up half the space of the 300 books I have left.

So I'll be looking into digitizing my books before I'm getting rid of my CDs.

Joe Konrath said...

Nobody who purchases your e-book "owns" it, Joe. In fact, there are a lot of similar limitations to owning a Kindle.

Semantics. If I have a DRM-free copy of a book on several hard drives, I own it. No one is taking it away from me.

Unless you lose them, or the media degrades (those CDs and hard drives degrade and lose integrity over time) or the file format becomes unreadable, or...

I'm a writer. I don't lose data. Ever. Period.

A book printed well on good media can last centuries. A good CD can last 5-10 years before it becomes unstable. A hard drive? Often less.

Uh-oh. Someone tell the Internet it's gonna disappear in 5-10 years.

Oh...wait. It won't.

What a book earns isn't its intrinsic value.

Nothing has intrinsic value. It's all subjective. But what a book earns is objective.

I'm talking about its value to a reader.

Subjective, therefore unsupportable.

Its value to someone who purchases it makes no difference to me.

how readers perceive the value of your book will make you care--because it'll help determine price.

I've already determined price.

Then why worry whether or not e-books are forever?

Because that's how long the author makes money.

In fact, the delivery of an e-book has significant infrastructure cost, and that cost doesn't go away over time or after initial buildout. It's a common misconception about technology. It's also why Amazon continues to show a declining profit and rising costs.

Ack. Pennies for copying and delivery are not significant, esp. compared with paper.

Dunno who in this thread stated Amazon is losing money on ebooks, but they're not. The agency model gives them 30% of list. It does not cost 30% to deliver an ebook.

AFAIK Bezos is spending lots on R&D and the future. I'd wager Amazon's dwindling profits are due to growth, which is how it became Amazon in the first place.

Joanna Penn said...

This was forced upon me when we moved back from Australia to England a few months back. I had shipped over 1000 books from London to New Zealand, then NZ to Australia and I was not going to pay to ship them all back again! With the move to ebooks, it was just natural to ditch the print. I have kept a few boxes of limited edition stuff in storage but we gave away around 800 books. Interestingly, you can't sell them for much, even brand new fiction. It was sad but also freeing. We now buy 99% ebooks and if a book is not available in e-format (Kindle is my drug of choice) it doesn't get bought.
It's actually one of Amazon's marketing tactics in London - as most people have very small flats and it's hard to move physically. Kindle books are often more expensive (because of VAT) but it's worth it for the space.
Thanks, Joanna

Nancy Beck said...

I still haven't totally embraced the digital world because I can't afford it all (yet). But I see the day when I'll get rid of most of my paper books and replace them with ebooks - as long as they're available in that format.

There will be those things I won't get rid of, like the dozens and dozens of CDs we have (most are my husband's, and he's somewhat of a Luddite), even tho I have an iPod Nano.

Movies? Haven't been to a theater in a year. And I'm not really interested in streaming them, as I prefer old movies (I'm into a lot of stuff from the 1930s-1950s; how many of those movies are streamable? A lot of 'em still aren't on DVD yet.).

Vinyl was okay, 8 tracks sucked, cassettes were marginally better than 8 tracks (at least I could rewind to hear the same song again!).

Do you still have the autographed books?

This is one thing I would never get rid of. Never. Especially if that person is no longer alive...

Question is, what do you do with the space that gets freed up?Beer.

Hmm...hubby and I are beer geeks, and I'm not coming up with any microbreweries near Chicago...but then it's early in morning. :-)

Nancy Beck said...

@Marie Simas,

"The past shackles us. And living in the present means letting go of the past; and not just letting go/getting through the bad, but forgetting the good as well."

Ever see the TV show, Hoarders? Sad and frustrating at the same time, as these poor people hold onto a past by never getting rid of furniture, old papers, etc.

Selena Kitt said...

I'm into a lot of stuff from the 1930s-1950s; how many of those movies are streamable? A lot of 'em still aren't on DVD yet.

You'd be surprised! I watch all sorts of old movies (1930's-1950's) all the time on Netflix. I actually prefer the less frantic pacing - and I love black and white film as an art form.

High Def actually offends me. It takes all the work and production of putting the thing on film in the first place and makes it look like it was shot by some twelve year old on a video camera.

I don't get it.

Fosterity said...

Joe Konrath said:
"I'm tempted to rip out the signed page of all of my signed books (I have hundreds) and make a scrapbook out of it. Sacrilegious? Perhaps. But it'll take up a lot less space, and I can still leaf through it for the memories."


Oh, Great.

Of all the things you've written, this creeps me out the most.

Now I have this image in my head of you sitting on the floor, surrounded by all your scrapbooking supplies...rubber stamps, colored pens, puffy stickers that say things like 'Dream' and 'Believe'...furiously gluing selected bits from discarded paperbacks, pictures cut out of magazines, leaves, old buttons and the odd gum wrapper into some mad, nostalgic collage, embellishing it mightily with shapes cut from artisan papers, vintage rik-rak, and itty, bitty, teeny, tiny, rhinestones. So many rhinestones.

If asked, you'll insist the glitter in your beard came from somewhere else...but...we'll know.

Joe Konrath said...

If asked, you'll insist the glitter in your beard came from somewhere else...but...we'll know.

Also, I'm naked.

Some of history's greatest men were scrapbookers. Jefferson. Beethoven. Napoleon. Einstein.

I've heard Hemingway once one first prize at a scrapbooking fair. Or maybe that was quilting...

Alastair Mayer said...

In eighteen months? No way. Probably not eighteen years, either. I've spent too long in IT to trust computers that much.

Now, I do like ebooks and ereaders, but I own far too much printed paper that cannot be replaced. Granted, a lot of that is sentimental value: the 18th-century chemistry (er "chymiftry") text from my great-to-the-Nth-grandfather, my autographed -- and hand-corrected -- hardcover copy of Robert Heinlein's Expanded Universe, or my 600+ volume collection of space technology books, some acquired in the Soviet Union.

But even the stuff whose content might be replaceable (3 or 4 thousand SF paperbacks, going back to when I started reading them in the 60s, including a shelf full of Ace Doubles) I prefer having in hardcopy.

Yeah, I love my Kindle. And there probably are a lot of books on my shelves that I could (and perhaps will) get rid of. But all digital? No way. I know how evanescent data can be, even when (perhaps, especially when) stored in "the cloud".

Jude Hardin said...

I can count on one hand the books I've actually read more than once, so I'm not all that attached to my digital files either. I buy what I want, read it, and then move on. If the books I've already read suddenly disappeared for some reason, so what? They're novels, not reference manuals.

Alastair Mayer said...

BTW, I'm less worried about EMP than all the other ways data can get corrupted, either accidentally or deliberately.

A virus that rewrites (not deletes, that's too obvious) certain ebooks because someone is offended by particular content, for example. (And you thought the Ministry of Truth was a bad idea...)

Or just plain bit-rot creeping in after files get copied numerous times.

SteventheThorn said...

Spooky. I can see that happening to me. I always liked to buy the physical copies of CDs, even with the availability of mp3s on iTunes and Amazon.com, because I was worried about what might happen if I lost my digital copies.

But with the availability of external hard drives and flash drives, that's not really a valid fear anymore (not to mention cloud drives).

So now I find myself purchasing digital-only copies of older albums when there's a good deal on Amazon...and soon enough I'll buy new albums because they're less expensive.

And I got a Kindle this summer, so all of my new book purchases have been digital too...

Rob Cornell said...

You can take my Atari 2600 from my cold, dead, callous-thumbed hands!

Anonymous said...

the only thing that worries me right now about replacing my paper titles with ebooks is the murky concept of "owning" an ebook with DRM. really, it's more of rental fee i am paying amazon to read a title. before i drop a significant amount of money into replacing my paper titles, i'd need their ebook equivalents in non-DRM form. i wonder when/if that will ever happen? i don't feel it's safe to replace paper books until it does.

Rob Cornell said...

I have a Kindle, but I still buy paper books from the Big 6 because I can get them cheaper than their e-book counterparts. Which is really annoying. This trend is pushing me more and more toward indie authors who offer great e-books for a fraction of the price.

Lynn Michelsohn said...

Joe,

This post reminds me of a SciFi short story I read many (many!) years ago. I think it was a "classic" but I don't remember the title or author. (Maybe you or one of your readers can supply it.)

The amount of information available in the world had grown so huge that storage was a problem. All books, magazines, scientific knowledge, data, etc. had been (in effect) digitized and stored in increasingly sophisticated ways, with several iterations, so that the ever-increasing amounts of data could be stored in ever-smaller amounts of physical space. Eventually, all information was coded in the spin of certain electrons (or some such geeky way).

Primative storage devices, like print books,had disappeared. Everyone on earth had instant access to all the stored information through a simple access code.

Then, one day, due to some sort of glitch, the access code stopped working . . .

Anonymous said...

What happens when the grid goes down (forever)?

Tony Rabig said...

Joe, been there and done that and still in the process. Your post is on target.

When my wife and I moved from Chicago to SE Kansas in late '85, we shipped about 110 cartons of books. Big cartons. We worked for Kroch's & Brentano's bookstore and we used the boxes that publishers used for shipping -- holding 50 or 100 mass market paperbacks, 20 or more trade hardcovers. We had something like 10 bookcases and 2 or 3 six-foot metal utility shelves, all double-rowed.

Not any more. We're down to 4 or 5 bookcases, almost no double-rows; most of the books have gone to libraries or second-hand dealers. I've been e-booking for about 10 years, and my wife about 2; we buy ebooks whenever possible for new titles and we're replacing print with e as more backlist shows up in the Kindle store.

There are some books I plan on keeping permanently, but I could get my part of the collection down to 1 bookcase if more backlist material was available.

The weird part is that even with so many books replaced, there's still so much stuff in the house...

Bests to all,

--tr

Jude Hardin said...

What happens when the grid goes down (forever)?

Then we'll have bigger problems than worrying about what to read.

Anonymous said...

Ikea is making changes to it's book shelves be causes of the changes caused by snooks in part.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/09/death-of-books/

Susan said...

Getting rid of all of those books is freeing in a big way. I also love my MP3s and Netflix movies (not that I watch much, too many books to read).

I take books by the boxful into the library. They have a sale twice a year. I've supported the library that way for years, even before Kindle.

wannabuy said...

We finally have the June sales numbers. I plotted them as usual:

http://ebookcomments.blogspot.com/


Quick summary, paperback books fell off a cliff, children books and hardcover are doing ok. Ebooks did well (from the AAP).

Neil

Anonymous said...

The unfortunate thing about digital books is that they have zero value once purchased. It's even against the law to resell them. And there is no such thing as a first edition.

A paper book costs little more than a digital book (I'm talking about traditional publishing where some kind of quality is guaranteed. Not the 99 cent my-kid-wrote-this-serial-killer-vampire-book on Kindle).

So there may still be a desire for first editions by reputable authors. But if your library is full of 99 cent junk then a digital copy is just as good as a paperback, takes up less space and your friends won't be able to see just how bad the books are that you are reading!

Selena Kitt said...

What happens when the grid goes down (forever)?

Then you can borrow all my sustainable living, gardening, hunting and food-growing books. If you happen to be nearby.

But if you're asking that question... my guess is you probably already have a collection of your own! ;)

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

18 months might not be quite long enough!

Wendy Tyler Ryan
http://www.wendytylerryan.com

Rose Robbins said...

I'll tell you what, if you ever have a power outage, its gonna be PRETTY boring at your house!
I don't care what form my music takes, or my movies, but books are a sensory experience to me. I love the smell, the feel, the sound of the pages...especially really old books. But I DO believe that periodic downsizing is cathartic, practical and enlightening.

Dale T. Phillips said...

Well, maybe, but one thing I miss in all this is going to someone's house and browsing their physical books, CDs and movies. I find old friends and new suggestions, and we form stronger bonds by sharing our experiences and preferences, with something there to remind us.

Not the same going through a list...

Jergin said...

It is all changing, and you spelled it out. Bob Dylan "The Times they are a changing" is more appropriate now than ever

LH said...

Joe, you have inspired me.
I have just decided to get rid of the majority of my paper books. Many I have read. Many I have never read and probably never will. Why do I even have them?

After moving in with mom to be her care provider (she has PD) I've had to deal with my late dad's collecting habit, which developed into a hoarding issue. That, mom's PD, and all my stuff thrown in, has resulted in chaos. Although I've done a lot to make things better (been at it for...well, a long time), it's like fighting a war that never ends. Well, it ends here.

I am, right now, in the middle of sorting out the house. I asked my sister to take mom for the weekend so that I could work freely and get the place fixed up. After cleaning and sorting most of last night and today, I felt physically sickened and mentally overwhelmed. I looked at the kinds of things that were cluttering up our space. What were they? Books. Magazines. Binders of recipes that we will never cook. Print material. All having some long-forgotten significance, but no longer of any practical value. If they were gone, we wouldn't even miss them.

Thanks for waking me up and letting me see this. We've been living in the past, in our memories. Memories are dear, but not if they get in the way of the present and the future. So I am going to get tough and get rid of what I honestly do not need and make sure that my mom can live the rest of her days in a house free of clutter (she's a clutterbug too, but that's the PD associated dementia talking).

I feel better now. Back to work, then!

wannabuy said...

I never thought I'd think of print books as consumer collectibles. But now I realize, they're paper bennie babies. Oh, the shame...

@Anon: "So there may still be a desire for first editions by reputable authors."
How long are you willing to hold them? Remember to sell while those that care about their content are still acquiring.

@Joanna: "Interestingly, you can't sell them for much, even brand new fiction."
So much for print having value over digital.

Liz said...

My son walked into my office about of month ago and said "Geez, Mom, it smells like a library in here."

I do not have a problem with this. LOL

josephinewade said...

And yet, two nights later, I'm still left wondering what beer do you drink while watching a wooden cocaine-filled stripping robot?

Austin Beeman said...

Long time lurker, first time commenter.
What I have found myself doing is eliminating 90% of my books, but upgrading 5% to Hardcover, upgrading 5% to high quality leather-bound editions.
I wonder if any of your reader have done the same.

Anonymous said...

i use kindle to buy books now

spotify for music

no more cd's and books to take up loads of room

Joe Konrath said...

I'm still left wondering what beer do you drink while watching a wooden cocaine-filled stripping robot?

This week, I've had (in no particular order) Southern Tier Pumking, Mocha, and Creme Brulee, Sonoran 200, Sam Adams '05 Utopias, Founders KBS, Bell's Hopslam, Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin, New Holland Dragon's Milk, Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Bourbon, Dogfishhead 120 IPA, Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf, and some Sam Adams/Dogfish Head Savor. I also had a dram of 1984 Yamakazi single malt, and some La Clandestine Absinthe.

josephinewade said...

***This week, I've had (in no particular order) Southern Tier Pumking, Mocha, and Creme Brulee, Sonoran 200, Sam Adams '05 Utopias, Founders KBS, Bell's Hopslam, Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin, New Holland Dragon's Milk, Widmer Brothers Reserve Barrel Aged Bourbon, Dogfishhead 120 IPA, Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf, and some Sam Adams/Dogfish Head Savor. I also had a dram of 1984 Yamakazi single malt, and some La Clandestine Absinthe.***

It sounds very Nordic/Autumnal. How were the Southern Tier Pumking and the Jack Imperial Pumpkin?

sfgray said...

I'm "lucky" enough to have moved so many times in my life that i developed the instinct to lighten my book collection on a regular basis. It's thus not quite as heartbreaking for me as i'm sure it is for some to recognize that my physical library is slowing its expansion at the expense of my ebook library.

The one thing that i will miss about paper books as they make the transition to a secondary format is the sense of place and time connected with some of my oldest and most personally important books. I can pick up my copy of Harlan Ellison's "Strange Wine" and the cover, the texture, the scent, the weight in my hand lets me feel — not just remember the stories, but viscerally re-experience — the sensation of reading it for the first time. Likewise, when my daughter read "Dune" as an independent novel study in English 12 last year, she read the same battered paperback copy that i bought in high school almost 30 years ago. I'm not needlessly nostalgic or sentimental about paper books, but i'm going to miss that quality.

wannabuy said...

@Rob:"I have a Kindle, but I still buy paper books from the Big 6 because I can get them cheaper than their e-book counterparts. Which is really annoying. This trend is pushing me more and more toward indie authors who offer great e-books for a fraction of the price."

Welcome to the dark side. ;)

I now wait. Sometimes for the big6 price to drop, sometimes as I just prefer to wait until a series conclusion. Either way, between the prices and slow book release (per author), serial fiction readers have been trained to look at indie authors. :)

Neil

K. E. Smith said...

So, two used bookstores went out of business this month, where I live. That says something to me about the coming shift in book culture. - merrymaven

Moissanite Jewel said...

Not me. I have toyed with the notion, but I always keep coming back to the thought of video's and movies. I rent a lot of movies, but I don't buy a lot. What keeps the world instead of 'buying' to 'renting?' And how would that work with sales prices? Could someone rent a book for .99 or could they buy for a real book price like $19.99?

I don't know the future, it could go anywhere, so I'm not jumping on this board yet. If I did, then I would have bought a Laserdisc instead of a DVD player.

Avi said...

I've scanned all my library on to my Kobo (which has a SD card slot) = 5GB of pdfs. The paper books still I own are the one's I haven't scanned yet or are personal sovenirs. The pdfs are backed up at multiple locations on the web and on two other SD cards.

As for a cheap book scanner I saw this one demoed at the NYC Maker Faire last year and was favorably impressed with it's cost and performance:
http://copybooks.childrenofmay.org/

I wonder why Amazon doesn't sell an eink watch with rapid serial visual presentation capability:
http://gregorycuellar.com/portfolio/buddybuzz/

And there are apps in the works for ereader autographs:
http://kindlegraph.com
http://www.autography.com/

These are still early days for ereaders - the future looks promising:
http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=19818

I've already done away with my printer -If I really need to print anything I have to make myself walk to Staples:)

John Everson said...

I have over 4,000 CDs in homemade varnished wood shelves in my basement. Half of them are ripped to my computer and are played throughout the house and in my car thanks to a handy little device called the iPod. But you know what? I love those hardcopy discs. And I love the 600 LP records that sit near them. Some nights, after one too many beers and a good late movie, I kick back in the basement and just look at them, savoring the memories that I have surrounding every single physical shell. None of those physical copies are going anywhere. Not in 18 months, not in 18 years.

I had a friend who ripped all of his CDs to his computer. Then he methodically sold, trashed, and gave away his "evil, space-wasting" hard copy collection. I warned him not to. Again and again.

I really had to bite back the "I told you so" a few months later when his harddrive crashed, and he lost all of the music he had spent years collecting... with no hardcopy to retrieve it from.

I won't be ditching my CDs, LPs...or books any year soon. That's not to say I won't use digital copies. But those are merely ephemeral extras. The real deal is sitting there on the shelf. Just waiting to be fondled again. It's really hard to fondle a .64kb file on my computer.

Matthew said...

I really love this conversation, but I didn't see anyone make the comment I was hoping to see...

Which format supports the author the most? In the end, this is what I want to do, because they are the creative force behind the books I love to read.

Should I be buying Hardcovers, softcovers, eBooks...? I really would love to see some math on this or an informed opinion.

BTW, it is likely not the "proper" forum for this comment, but just read Joe's TimeCaster book, and loved it! I devoured the whole thing in less than a day! Looking forward to reading more!

-Matthew

Matthew said...

I really love this conversation, but I didn't see anyone make the comment I was hoping to see...

Which format supports the author the most? In the end, this is what I want to do, because they are the creative force behind the books I love to read.

Should I be buying Hardcovers, softcovers, eBooks...? I really would love to see some math on this or an informed opinion.

Sorry if this is a duplicate post, this is my first entry, and it didn't seem to go through.

BTW, it is likely not the "proper" forum for this comment, but just read Joe's TimeCaster book, and loved it! I devoured the whole thing in less than a day! Looking forward to reading more!

-Matthew

Mike Pascale said...

Interesting how John above and John Horner make such cogent comments...Must be a "John" thing?

"For now. I'm holding out hope for the iEasel. A sixty inch screen for displaying art books. Could also put a flatscreen into a coffee table, read on that using a remote to turn pages. Or a TV would work too."

Actually, that's still a television. No one would pay enough for a separate device to make it profitable enough for a company to mass produce it. (Just look at 60 inch monitors and TVs. $1000 just to view art books?)

People will just download art books and connect their Kindles or whatever to their TV.

But to replace all the incredible art books I have both seen and own, all would have to be re-scanned from the original art (scanning printed copies would become pixelated on a big screen) or re-photographed using high-res photography. Much too immense/expensive an undertaking, and a LOT of that OA no longer exists.

Plus, you're stuck viewing it on your coffee table or wherever the screen is. The idea is to be more mobile. You going to carry that 60-inch screen around with you? I can grab an art book off the shelf and bring it to any room much easier and faster than starting up a device, letting it warm up, navigating to the item I want and waiting for it to load.

And pirating e-books takes money out of writers' pockets. Glad you are willing to give your work away free, but not all of us can afford to do that. :-)

Thanks,
Mike