Revisiting My Digital Library (or Stop Being Threatened By Other People’s Reading Choices)

I’ve been tending to my digital housekeeping this weekend and thought about my digital library (books, newsletters, magazines, etc.). I’ve been using Calibre to manage my large ebooks library for several years. Rather than reinvent the wheel by putting up my own instructions and tips, why not just check out these informative videos from Peter, who narrates the “Digitize Your Books” series. The first video in the series is embedded below:

While I buy very little dead tree media anymore, I am not going to scan in many of my old books due to their monetary or sentimental value. I will, however, be finishing my project of scanning in my old yearbooks. I want to keep the content, but I don’t feel like carrying the hard copies around with me for the rest of my days every time I change addresses. I already did something similar with all of my various newsletters, chapbooks, meeting and conference binders, and smaller books starting in 2005. Most of my magazine subscriptions have been digital for over a decade. I can do research from my own library pretty quickly (and remotely) since it is mostly OCR already.

I started reading ebooks in the mid-1990s, so I already had a decent sized collection going into Calibre. I download and back-up my new Kobo, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and other online purchases monthly. Over the years, I’ve sold off or donated probably close to a thousand books. I have several thousand more with me available in my digital library. I can finish one book in the middle of lunch and start the sequel with a touch of a button without missing a beat.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, what happens when my phone or laptop or tablet battery dies? Nothing tragic. I just recharge it and the books are still there — ‘cuz magic (or science or an Executive Order or Chuck Norris or something). What happens when I leave my book on the bus or it gets soaked due to a flood or my coffee cup? I have to buy it again and — no, not every single book in the world can be simply found or ordered from your local libraries (although the Fairfax County Public Library is pretty outstanding). So, yeah. I stopped losing or destroying those dead trees a while ago. That works for me — perhaps it is not your cup of tea. We will both live. Seriously. Not life or death, despite the negative, waaaaaaay over the top emotional response to the existence of ebooks from some people.

I get that some people have vision problems and cannot read long on a screen. That is a separate, real medical issue that would affect other aspects of their life, so it is really not about the ebooks at all.

Aside from legitimate physical disabilities, people make lots of silly or blatantly elitist (and often Luddite) arguments to hate on those of us who read ebooks. Of course, while simultaneously talking down to us as if we are uncultured and simple peasants who don’t understand literature.

Then there is the ridiculous nonsense about only reading hard copy books ‘cuz you can’t smell ebooks. That old book smell, which I am quite familiar with in my own collection, is not there with brand-new books either. I guess those hard-line only books that smell are worthy people wait a few decades for their hard copy books to age and decay on the shelf before they can enjoy that piece of art? Please, you absolutely know that is not the case. Stop it. That IS an elitist argument.

Silliness. Read how you like whether it is hard copy books, ebooks, or a combination of both (me), but mayhaps don’t offer childish nonsense and false equivalence as the reason why ebooks are Satan to you?

Anyway, rant over. If you want to learn more about how to manage your own digital library, Peter’s videos are pretty helpful and Calibre is a piece of open-source awesomeness.

Read how you like and be honest about your choices. No one is better than anyone else based on how they consume their paragraphs. Really.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.