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Time to Ditch Physical Books?

I’m moving. Again. I’ve never been one to turn down a newer, more interesting city, whether it be New Orleans, which I experienced and got swept out by Katrina, or Chicago, which always will feel like a second home. As I get older, though, my baggage is getting heavier.

And by baggage, I mean books. No one is trying to be symbolic here.

I have my own books, which, as of this year, will be a dozen published. I have a bunch of copies of those. Then I have the books of authors I personally know. Can you guys stop being so prolific? I have the books I used to research Porn & Pong, which are about 50 in total, and the books I used to research a bunch of rejected book ideas that I hope to publish one day. There are even more of those. And the travel guides – remember, I travel a lot – and the food guides and the language guides that link the two previous types of guides together. I have my signed, first-edition, and vintage books, too.

So what if, on this move, I just chucked them all? I did do that once – well, chucked a lot of them, anyway – when I went to get my stuff after Hurricane Katrina. I was one of the lucky few with an undamaged apartment, yet I still drove down there with a rented van, grabbed my essentials, and left probably dozens of spirituality books in my then abandoned place. I wanted a fresh start and, frankly, I felt like I learned all I could from those books – I have a tendency to read books over and over again, and, at the moment, I felt like I had squeezed everything I could from them. But maybe I left them because I felt guilty for surviving. Maybe I was just lazy.

Earlier this year I bumped into a friend, video game writer and board game creator Corvus Elrod. I asked him what he was up to. My memory is awful at the moment, but he said something to the effect of “We’re getting rid of all of our books. We’re almost done!” Corvus is one of the most articulate, well-read people I know, but I suddenly pictured a bonfire in his backyard with piles of incinerated pulp. He read my face. “No. No! We’re going digital.” Oh, OK.

To be frank, I’m not sure if I have the guts to go completely digital this move. I mean, we finally have the opportunity to have most books through Kindle, NOOK, and, to a lesser extent, on Kobo and iBooks. They are often cheaper than physical books, much to the chagrin of authors like myself. And I can have my now-overstuffed bookcase (and boxes…) compressed into a thin, carry around tablet.

Are you guys getting rid of your physical books? At the moment, I’m feeling more like TechnoBuffalo herd member Emily Price than my buddy Corvus. I better get some more moving boxes.

Photo courtesy of noricum // CC 2.0


Damon Brown

Damon writes CBS's Gadget Watch and is the U.S. Editor of Pocket Gamer. He also writes books about music, sex, and tech. Damon's latest is The...

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