Categories
Decluttering

Why do we hoard books?

The space I’ve gained after yesterday’s purge has made me realize that I was devolving into a book hoarder. I had way too many physical books for the house I live in, to the point where it was negatively impacting my quality of life.

As a result, my question today is why do we feel the need to collect and keep print books? What is it about the medium that inspires some of us to hold on to more than is practical?

Pointing this question directly at myself since I am the one who has realized that I have a problem: why do I want to keep so many books?

The only answers I can come up with relate to my history.

When I was a little girl, the first book I remember receiving was a ragged copy of a nursery rhyme book. It had been left in one of the apartments my father owned when the tenants moved out. The cover was missing along with many of the pages but I adored that book. I spent a lot of time just admiring the pages even before I recall having the ability to read. That was the book I would take to my father and beg him to read me a bedtime story from. I’d seen parents read bedtime stories to their children on television so I begged to have them read to me.

I was in the first grade when I recall being able to actually understand what I was reading. I would lose myself in the books I would check out at the school library to the point where I would forget my bus stop–to the immense annoyance of the driver.

I never had enough to read. I was so hungry! I devoured every book I could get my hands on. My parents noticed my hunger so they purchased a set of encyclopedias at an auction around this point. They weren’t readers themselves but they tried. Those books were above my reading level at the time but I adored them just the same.

Internet didn’t exist for the common people in the 1970’s and 1980’s when I grew up so I didn’t have access to the abundance of reading material that we have today. My parents weren’t ones to visit public libraries, so my reading was limited to what I could beg my parents to buy and what I could acquire at school.

It was never enough. I would make bargains with the teachers and librarians to gain extra opportunities to exchange the books I checked out at school. Teachers tried to help by lending me additional books, yet still I felt the hunger.

I wonder if that is the reason I so desperately want to hoard every single book I come in contact with today. Every time I see a book, especially an unwanted book, I want to take it home and love it. I want to place it on my bookshelf just to possess because one day I may want to read it. It doesn’t really matter the subject; I just want to hold them close and keep them.

In light of our modern age, this desire to collect print books no longer makes practical sense. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, the Open Library, and many other resources, older books can be acquired in a variety of formats for free. I have utilized these resources for two decades now, collecting older books in plain text format to save space on my computer. I email them to my Kindle when I am not in the mood to read them on my computer. I even collect PDF books that I read on my computer or my iPad if the books contain images or other items that make reading in their original print format easier.

I have a scary amount of these ebooks. I have over 7,000 titles on my Kindle alone. That’s not including the DVDs and CDs I have burned over the years to archive my collection so it is safe to say that I have an issue with hoarding when it comes to books. I cannot even justify this by saying that I’ve read all of them because I haven’t. I’ve read a huge amount of them but definitely not all of them.

So what makes me this way? is it truly because I felt such a lack of reading material in my childhood? Is it because I’ve went through periods of my life when I couldn’t afford to buy more books? Is it because I feel an attachment to books in particular for some reason?

I don’t know. All I do know is that while the digital collecting of ebooks causes no personal difficulty for me (it is not a burden to store the digital archives since I keep them in a binder with my other files), I do need to learn how to curtail my desire to hoard print books. As much as I adore them, I lack the space to keep every title I encounter. This home is rather tiny and I’m toying with the idea of moving into an even smaller place should the kid decide to move out in the future. The last thing I want or need is for my epitaph to read “Died beneath a mountain of books.”

Then again, if Carrie Fisher can write her own epitaph maybe I can do the same. “Sacrificed her life for the books she loved” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Why do you collect the books that you do? Do you collect purely print, a mix of print and digital, or exclusively digital? How large is your collection (if you were to take a guess)? Maybe if we all share our reasons we will gain a deeper understanding of this phenomena.

Note:

For those who are interested, I stumbled upon this article that discusses book hoarding. I found it rather interesting. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/26/bibliomania-the-strange-history-of-compulsive-book-buying

Categories
Minimalism Organization Personal Simplicity

Physical Vs. Print Books

Over the years I have waffled between print and physical books. I love having the ability to pull a book off of the shelf and flip to my notes or review certain sections. I don’t know if it is because I grew up exclusively with physical books or if that is the way that my brain works. Regardless of the reason, I’ve collected quite a few print books over the past few years, believing that it was the best path for me to take.

Technology has changed immensely since I made the initial decision to focus almost exclusively upon print books so I have realized that this subject needs to be revisited. This article will discuss the differences between the two formats as I decide if one format is better for me personally.

Ease of Acquisition

If you want to acquire an ebook it is a simple matter of downloading the title desired from the Internet. If you have access to an Internet connection you can acquire almost any book you desire within moments. Websites that specialize in creating ebooks from titles that are out of copyright are prolific these days. There are very few books that one cannot download immediately now–especially if the book in question is an older one.

Print books can be located easily enough from libraries, book sales, thrift shops, friends, and a myriad of other avenues. If a book you desire cannot be located locally you can always order it online. You will have to pay for shipping and wait a few days but you can still acquire them.

The primary difference (aside from speed) when it comes to acquiring either print or physical books is cost. A large number of ebook titles are older and out of copyright; these titles can be acquired for free in digital format but even the oldest print book may cost money to acquire. If the title is an uncommon one (like a first edition), acquiring a physical copy can become prohibitively expensive. While it may not cost much to acquire an older print book locally, shipping expense on physical books can add up over time.

Ease of Access

One of my primary issues with ebooks is the DRM that is so prevalent when you purchase books from major retailers. If those companies go under, what happens to the books you’ve purchased? Will you still be able to access them? Will the money you spent on the digital books be for nothing if the company decides to withdraw your right to access those books? This is a major concern for me. Many ebooks come packaged in a special format that would make it impossible to read the books if you lose access to your reader software or the company decides to revoke your right to read them. That problem doesn’t exist for print books; you don’t need special software to read them and never have to worry about some company telling you that you can no longer access the books you’ve purchased. As long as you have a physical copy, you will be able to read that book. Even better, you can lend that book out if you desire. Many ebooks do not have this ability. Ebook distributors don’t want people to share the ebooks they’ve purchased so they seriously limit–if not completely eliminate–your ability to share the ebooks you’ve purchased.

Search capabilities

Ebooks win in this area. If you can remember a few words from a section, a quick search will retrieve all instances in a book where those words appear. This is much easier to do with ebooks than it is with print books; if the print book doesn’t contain an index, you are forced to flip through the pages until you hopefully get lucky enough to locate the area you are searching for.

However, when it comes to actually locating a book that you are looking for, print wins out if you don’t know the exact title. Humans are geared to recognize things visually. It is a simple matter to sift through a collection of physical books to locate a specific cover, bookmark, or other identifying mark when searching for a particular book. Even with modern ebook readers that feature covers this can be difficult. Publishers (especially indie publishers) tend to change their ebook covers occasionally. When they change the covers on their ebooks, the ebook reader system will update the title with the new cover–rendering your visual ability to locate that book useless.

Space and Portability

You can store an incomprehensible number of ebooks upon a single device and carry that device with you. This grants you the ability to keep an entire library of books in your possession wherever you may go. The only way to comprehend what this means is to try carrying aound a 1,000-plus page book to read during downtimes. I’ve had to do that in the past. When I began learning about computers, many of the books I read were in this page range or even larger. These books can be a logistical nightmare. Just trying to open one up to read a few paragraphs while you’re standing in line is almost physically impossible if you don’t have a place to sit down. With a small computer or ereader, however, you can accomplish this with ease.

Moving can also become a logistical nightmare if you possess a large number of books. These books must be boxed and taken to the place where you have decided to relocate to. If you are moving some distance, this can end up costing a fortune. I’ve encountered this issue several times over the years as I’ve moved from place to place. It was one of the primary reasons I began shifting to ebooks before I settled in this house. I couldn’t afford the time or the expense of moving my immense library from a practical perspective.

Once you settle into a place, physical books add another layer of difficulty to one’s life. You need to acquire some sort of shelving or devise another method of storage for the books. Once you have that in place, you have to maintain your physical book collection by dusting it, rearranging it when the titles get out of order, as well as protecting them from moisture and other hazards. If your physical book collection outgrows the space that you have allotted for it, you either have to eliminate some of the books or expand your storage. This can become quite expensive, especially in light of how much it costs in our modern age to rent or purchase larger homes. Very few of us have the financial luxury of being able to afford a home large enough to store an extensive library of physical books.

In contrast, even the largest library of ebooks can be stored on a tablet, ereader, phone, or backed up on a hard drive. I have several DVDs worth of ebooks stored away that I’ve collected through the years. It takes very little space to store those discs in comparison to storing the physical versions.

Privacy

A modern discussion of the subject of books would not be relevant without discussing privacy concerns. Our world is slowly evolving into a state of constant surveillance. Many of us like to read books that those around us would not approve of if they saw those books on our shelves. I encountered this issue personally many years ago; I was a member of a religious faith that “discouraged” its members from possessing and reading any book that was not officially sanctioned by the leaders of that faith. In fact, that was one of the reasons I began exploring ebooks. It allowed me the freedom to read what I wanted without anyone in that faith to become aware of my unsanctioned reading preferences.

While as a society we may not have degenerated to the point where our reading material can get us in legal trouble, there are some instances where discretion is encouraged. Certain subjects like the Law of Attraction, spiritualism, and even certain reference materials can make family and friends uncomfortable or even hostile if they happen to see these types of titles upon our bookshelves. Because of this, it may be safest to keep certain subjects of reading and research exclusively in digital format–if only to avoid questions.

My Personal Situation

As much as I prefer print books, the space that I have to store them is limited. The shelf I acquired to store my library is overflowing. At some point in the future I will have to reduce my collection by thinning out some of the titles I own. Many of the books I prefer to read are older titles so I wonder at the logic of paying for a physical copy when I could download a digital copy for free instead. Does it make sense to spend money to purchase, say, Moby Dick in a physical book when I can download an ebook version for free?

While I’ve not been openly criticized for my reading preferences in close to a decade, I still carry some emotional scarring from that time in my life. There are some subjects that I refuse to even consider acquiring in print format because of my experiences in the past. Even with that precaution, I have raised a few eyebrows when a curious visitor has taken the time to examine the physical books in my collection. I’ve got a small number of books that I’ve hidden away because I know that there are those in my circle that would not understand my interest in certain subjects.

Privacy hangups aside, my primary concern at the moment is physical. I have no desire to relocate to a larger home; in fact, I may choose to move to an even smaller place in the future to save money on housing. How can I juggle this? I already know that, should I decide to move that I won’t be able to take my entire physical collection with me. If a flood hits this place, I know that I won’t be able to take my physical books with me if I have to evacuate. The DRM limitations on ebooks purchased on major retailing sites makes me nervous; when I acquire a book, I want to keep access to that book, period. There are ways around that but those ways aren’t exactly considered politically correct. Even if I don’t share a single copy of an ebook I possess I may run afoul of the law at some point in the future if I pursue this avenue.

I do have the equipment now that will allow me to read PDF files and even make notes in them on my devices. It’s not the same as holding the physical book in my hand but it’s close. Books acquired in plain text take up even less space than PDF books; if the files are named with some sort of convention, they should theoretically be fairly easy to locate even in a sizable collection. Computerized search capabilities have improved immensely over the past decade as well to the point where computers can even search inside some PDF documents and they’ve always been able to search inside of text files.

I love the beauty of physical books but I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to make a decision. Should I continue to collect physical copies, or should I gradually transition to ebooks? And how do I deal with the fact that my physical book collection has outgrown the space that I have available? Am I being overly paranoid about the privacy aspect? Do I accept the risk of loss if modern DRM controls decide to block access from my ebooks, or should I seek a DRM-free source of any ebooks that I acquire? And should I focus on formats that I can read on any device I happen to possess or resign myself to a single ereader device that may become obsolete?

What book format do you prefer? Why do you prefer that format? If you were in my situation, a situation where space and privacy are major considerations, how would you handle it? Any and all opinions are welcome. I would like to hear a variety of opinions before I make any decisions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Categories
Books

Painful Realization

I have made a painful discovery over these past few days: I am not as healed as I would like. I have severe issues when it comes to learning and using software that I wasn’t extremely familiar with before I got hurt.

While I managed to get the new book formatted for print, I have had a nightmare when it comes to formatting this puppy for ebook format. I can get everything to work in LibreOffice, I can even code it so that it works in html, but when it comes to converting those files to the DOC format that I need in order to submit it to my ebook distributors, it messes up every single time.

I’m not talking tiny glitches; I’ve seen everything from hamburger text, missing hyperlinks (to mark the chapters), and NO access to the footnotes. I have nuked this file and started over so many times I am ready to cry.

But I haven’t given up. I’m very familiar with Microsoft Word, fortunately (I took a class on it years ago), so I know how to format everything so it will look nice in that program natively.  My problem is with the conversion process. So I got the bright idea to borrow a computer that had Word installed so that I could use it to get this ebook finished.

That didn’t work out so well. They had games and stuff they wanted to play so I had to give the computer back. Sigh.

But I kept trying. I managed to get the 45-day free trial of Office 2003 to work on my ancient dinosaur. I’m not as familiar with it as I am the newer versions, but it works. As a result I have nuked this file ONCE AGAIN (feels like the 20th time) and started formatting it in THAT program.

Wish me luck that I get it done before the trial is over. I plan to work nonstop, taking breaks only when forced, in order to beat my deadline.

Hopefully when I get some more money coming in I will be able to locate a copy of Office on eBay for cheap, one of the older versions that you don’t have to pay for a subscription to. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, know that I am doing my level best to get this ebook formatted and released so that you guys can have it on your ereader devices.

And please wish me luck. I’m gonna need it.

Categories
Law of Attraction

Recommended Reading

For those who are truly interested in learning more about the Secret, this Law of Attraction, I have discovered a whole treasure chest of information, all contained in one single book.

You won’t find this book in the self-help section; you won’t even find it in the new age section. Instead, I stumbled upon this gem in the financial section of my local bookstore.

It is called The Prosperity Bible, and it contains nineteen of the best books to read if you are learning about the Law of Attraction. Actually, I stumbled upon one book that wasn’t listed in the table of contents, so perhaps 20 is a more accurate number.

In this book, you will find some well known gems, like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles, The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel, plus many others.

Within this book is a great treatise called The Game of Life and How to Play it by Florence Scovel Shinn – if you are any at all curious about the Law of Attraction, the Secret – you really need to read this book. I have actually copied parts of this book to display around my home to better memorize them!

It is hardback, and mine came boxed. Beg, borrow or buy a copy of this book – you won’t regret it!