Monday, 17 February 2014

Why I'm No Longer Adding Books To My Shelves

When eBooks were first introduced into the wild, never in a million years did I think that I could get on board.  Quite frankly, I felt insulted.  I have loved libraries my entire life, having been a librarian in school and spending many hours in them as a kid, and a young adult.  I admit to loving the look, feel and smell of printed books, and how each hardback feels like a treasure that I’ve collected. Although I buy a lot of printed books online nowadays (mostly due to price and availability) I love book stores and especially places like Foyles, Waterstones and The Works (UK) where you can buy three paperbacks for £5.  Bargain! 

Slowly I came around to the idea of eBooks when I saw a use for them – travel.  Weight restrictions for luggage have become stricter and stricter over the years and eBooks meant that I could go on holiday and not be weighed down by hefty hardbacks.  Around the same time, I discovered a wonderful site called Netgalley  where publishers uploaded books for avid readers and reviewers.  Both of those ideas led me to the belief that I needed to buy a kindle.  So I did. 

I can’t remember exactly when I read my first eBook but like most things you do for the first time, I do remember that it felt weird.  And then I started to like it.  I started using Netgalley more and more and publishers really got on board with the idea which made the number of books available to read and review increase.  Also, the diversity was wonderful. 

To tell the truth, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about moving over to reading eBooks exclusively and it took a really horrible event to make that happen.  Most of you know that my apartment recently got flooded.  We lost most of our furniture and basically everything at ground level but thankfully the majority of my books were saved as they were high up on shelves.  I’ve never been so relieved in my entire life.  The damage and destruction meant that inevitably we had to move out and do you know how long it took just to move my book collection? TWO FULL DAYS and that’s with two other people helping me at one point.  Do you know how much room those books are taking up now I’ve lost my shelves?  A LOT. 

I think you know where I’m going with this but I’m going to lay it all out for you anyway.  Reading eBooks exclusively makes sense on so many levels...

1.    eBooks are generally speaking, cheaper.
I’m aware that there are exceptions to this rule but still, you can’t buy a paperback for 20p or 49p anymore, not even in a charity shop.  I remember seeing the eBook version of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on sale for something ridiculous like 99p at one point whilst the hardback was a lot more expensive.

2.    eBooks are instantaneous. 
No more waiting around for the postman or arranging re-deliveries that you’ve missed because you were at work.  No more getting frustrated when your pre-order for the book you’re desperate to read doesn’t show up on your doorstep on release day.  With eBooks, it’s right there when YOU want to read it.

3.    The only space eBooks take up is hard disc space. 
We’ve all experienced it, that devastating moment when you realise you’ve ran out of shelf space.  And even worse, the moment when you realise you’ve ran out of room to add more shelves.  Then the nagging boyfriend who asks you not to leave books everywhere and asks you just how many of them you’ve actually read.  And what about if you keep your ARC’s because you can’t bear to throw them away? I LOVE the idea of having my entire book collection on one device that I can take with me wherever I go and I can free up some space in my office/library so I can actually use it!

4.    E reading devices have never been better. 
With the introduction of retina displays, electronic text has never been sharper and clearer than it is now.  I’ve seen them in the stores, I’ve played with them and they are BEAUTIFUL.  No more reading with the torch as a tablet (if that’s what you choose to use) has a built in backlight that you can adjust to suit your own needs. 

5.    Novellas are often released in electronic format. 
Don’t you find it annoying when your favourite author releases a novella electronically when you’ve collected the rest of the series in hardback or paperback?  I do.  By having all my books in electronic format, I can avoid this formatting issue.

6.    Covers often change mid series. 
This is a real bug bear of mine but when you read eBooks, suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore as they don’t need to look so pretty on the shelves.

7.    You can still get your books signed. 
Did you know this?  By using Authorgraph, you can request to have your books signed, without ever leaving your living room.  I can save a fortune on trips to London and what if your favourite author is somewhere you can’t get to? NO PROBLEM.

8.    If your e reader gets destroyed, your book collection doesn’t. 
I can only talk about the kindle because that’s all I have experience of but your kindle collection goes with you from device to device.

I’ve given you a lot of pro’s here and a lot of reasons why I’m choosing to read eBooks only from now on but obviously, there are also some cons.  It would cost a small fortune to replace all my hardbacks with the electronic versions and there’s no way I’m going to just get rid of all my books.  I suppose I could sell them but I’d never get back what I paid for them and I’d be sad to see them go.  So I’m proposing to keep the hardbacks I’m most attached to and only buy new books on the kindle from now on unless it’s a series that’s part way through and I have the rest of the books on the shelves. 

The insurance money for the flood has just come through and after everything we’ve been through in the past couple of months, I’m treating myself to an iPad Air.  I can download the kindle app for free and my digital book collection will instantly appear.  With its beautiful retina display, what’s the point in spending all that money and not using it, right? ;)


  1. So sorry to hear about your flooding. What a terrible thing to happen. I think you make a good case for ebooks though.

    1. Thanks, Emma. It wasn't the greatest experience but there's been a lot of positives that have come out of it.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that you got flooded; I hope things are starting to look up. I've been considering electronic books more now that I've realised I can get them on my laptop via the kindle site, so things are going to be better when I can read them on my phone too. You really put up quite a compelling argument for them, and I can see why you've chosen the idea :)