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Friday, September 23, 2016

Musings on Books

I was reading an article about e-books recently, and it got me thinking about how e-books were impacting my own reading/book collecting tendencies. And I do think they are, but probably not in the way a lot of people would think about it.

Travel: I am a firm believer that it's not a vacation if I haven't read several books during it. Heck, if it involves airline travel with a layover both ways, I can often manage a book on the flight out and one on the way back, just for starters. So I have always included luggage space for books in my travel plans. That's where my biggest change due to e-readers as happened.

I broke down and got the Kindle app on my iPad before my 2013 trip to England and France. I was going to be gone for slightly more than two weeks, and I just couldn't face the luggage space that was going to necessitate. Interestingly, that was the time I bought the most Kindle books at full price, when I initially loaded up my Ipad. (Which I under-estimated my needs, and had to reload using free wifi at a pub in Cornwall because our cottage didn't have any sort of internet connect. But I digress.)
At that time, I signed up for the Kindle deals email, so I've mostly populated my collection with $1.99 to $2.99 books. I maintain a fairly steady back log, so I always have something to read when I'm on a trip.    And I am pretty faithful to trip reading for the majority of my e-book reading. I do not usually read fiction books in my house. (Unless I'm finishing off something I couldn't quite finish at the end of a trip.) 

The major exception: craft, cooking and garden books. When I've gotten those, I usually flip through them in the evenings at home. I do really like the bookmark functionality - it's nice to be able to go back and get a concise listing of the bookmarks, instead of having to flip through a whole lot of bookmarked pages.  That said, I do still prefer hard copy books for those categories. There's something about flipping back and forth between different pages of a gardening book to compare pictures that you can't quite replicate in an e-book experience.

And that brings me to the other big change in my habits, which isn't so much about e-books as about the internet. I've been doing a cull of my non-fiction books over the past year or so, and it's following a definite pattern. The books I'm keeping are the ones that inspire me. So for gardening books, the how to books are gone. The books about particular styles, with lots of pictures, have stayed. That's true across most subjects - the encyclopedias, how tos and overviews are going away - it's just easier for me to look those things up in the internet, when I need that information.

But I do still like the inspiration - I've kept my sewing and knitting books, by and large (having largely culled out the things I knew I'd never use a couple years ago). The cookbook collection is also fairly intact, as I enjoy flipping through the ones I like. (That said, the BF and I are planning an exercise soon to clear those out, because we probably don't even touch about half of what we have for cookbooks, ever.) So the ease of looking up things on the internet is impacting my buying habits. What I'm keeping is fiction (because I still prefer reading those in physical form), and inspirational books, which just work better for me in a flippable format.

I can't see this changing very much long term, unless the industry decides to make a very conscious effort to produce less physical books.   I still like those fundamentally better, though I am warming to certain applications for electronic formats.

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