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The Slow Death of a Book Shelf

I’ve dived into digital and am doing away with book shelves; I’m a book worm and I am proudly giving up the printed page as quickly as I can. The future is liberating.

We hear a lot of talk about ebooks maturing and becoming mainstream, and I do hope we will see that soon. Sadly, publishers continue to drag their feet worse than the recording industry has and we will likely see tree and ink publishers go kicking and screaming into a better tomorrow. I decided to stop waiting, though, and have taken on the task of digitizing all of the books I have in my collection.

I began a serious purge of books last year when I moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Waterloo, Ontario. I had a lot of books and opted to sell and give away the majority of the books in my collection; I downloaded replacements for as many books as I could in digital formats. Even with a purge of many books, I moved with dozens of books that I care a great deal about and wouldn’t leave behind without a digital alternative.

In June I will be moving back to Nova Scotia and I have begun a scanning project. In late June, when I move, I will do so with no more than 5 physical books in my possession. Each other book and magazine will be scanned and passed along to someone else. I have already given to a book drive and will do the same again before I leave.

It’s a long process to digitize books; scanning each page with a cheap scanner can make each book an hours-long project. Even so, it’s better to act than to wait for publishers to catch up, so I’ve adopted a DIY attitude. I have scanned dozens of books and magazines that are not available in digital form during the past two months. I’m left with a collection of PDF files that will fit on a MicroSD card instead of filling shelves upon shelves.

As convenient as digital books are to read —I greatly prefer digital reading to paper reading—, the striking difference is in the clutter that will be in my living space. For the first time in my memory I will be without a book shelf, without a teetering stack of books and with every book I have loved in my pocket. That will feel great.

If you have the time, why not join me in being proactive in the move to digital books? A cheap scanner and a netbook would be all that is necessary to start the process. I’m very happy about the change so far.

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