April 20th, 2012

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Down With Body Trauma! (The Real Value of a Kindle)

Ebooks have changed my life. For the better, actually. Here I'm talking as a reader, not as a writer. The data is still out on the latter.

How can ebooks change my life? Well, let me share a little story, which some of you may already know: when <lj-user="hntrpyanfar"> and I were moving from Massachusetts to Texas three years ago, we decided to split our belongings into two groups. The furniture and necessary stuff we would hire movers to take. Everything else (the books, the comics, the media) would go into little pods. We found a good place for pods, and then arranged for two units. Oh and on the website, they do not specify a weight limit.

So, we load up a Uhaul and drag the heavy, heavy boxes to the pod site (it was cheaper than having pods delivered), and filled these things up halfway. Two pods, each half full. No sweat right? Then we see the weight limit sign on the doors.

"No sweat," says I, "they're only half full."

"We should check," Trista says, "juuuust in case."

A man drives out with his little forklift. The tines go under the box. The engine revs. The pod's front edge rises maybe an inch and the rear wheels on the forklift clear the ground. Try with pod numba 2 yields the same result. Well poop, I think. "What are you people," the forklift operater demands, "rock collectas? You buried the needle, and it goes up to 5000 pounds!"

So we have over 10k of books and such. Wowee. The subsequent "unload the pods into a semi trailer in 90 minutes" experience left Trista, myself and <lj-user="doompuppy"> (thank you Mike! Thank you thank you thank you!) pretty weary at the end. The next day, I had strained muscles I didn't even know I had.

Years later, enter e-versions. A way to replace the books I want to have intermittent access to (those that I don't want to wait to get from a library) but don't necessarily need to keep around in hardcopy. And magazines! Lord love a mallard, I have copies of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (and many, many others) that are taking up space and promising a broken back. Why should I add to these piles? The content is what I want, not the burden.

In some ways it feels like I am making a transition from LP to CD all over again (or ripping CD to mp3), but the end result looks pretty nice: a collection of books that actually matters to me, and immediate access to thousands of others that aren't as vital. Of course, not all the books have e-copies. Ah well. No one said this was a perfect idea. However, it reduces the amount of new acquisitions to those authors I really, really want in hardcopy. The option to go paperless for some and paper for others is a nice one.

No more body trauma! Says the guy with four garage style steel shelving units (the sort whose shelves each hold up to 1000 pounds) in the living room crammed with real books. Sheesh.