Tech Life Where is it? Everyone has one.

The Book Stalker

This creepy incident involving Amazon remotely removing purchased content from the Kindle has me back on the fence regarding purchasing one. There are contradictory forces at work here.

First, as a geek, I’m unable to sleep when I do not own the latest cool. The first Kindle’s industrial design was intriguing, but the second version nailed it. The second generation is a pleasure to hold and to read and I’m a fan of anything that gives me a reason to read more.

But here’s the contradiction:

My office bookshelf. Slightly in disarray, but a massive visual reminder of what I love about books… you hold them.

When a Kindle-maniac is running down their list of compelling reasons to purchase, they inevitably invoke the “that’s what your parents said about CDs” argument. Remember that? A generation of music lovers decrying the death of vinyl because the CD’s size didn’t do justice to the cover art?

The cover is part of music.


It’s not about the song; it’s about the album as a WHOLE.

Maybe. Ok, yes, I love listening to the entire Dark Side of the Moon, and yeah, that prism cover is bitchin’, but the main difference between a book and an album or a CD is you hold a book when you read it. If you want something from a book, you need to touch it. Part of the reason I read Catcher in the Rye once a year has to do with the ratty, dusty-smelling version I own. Part of the character of a book is how it is read.

But a technological evolution away from books, for me, presents an even larger social problem.

More People Less

The name is Rands. It’s not my real name; it’s a leftover from the mid-90s when everyone was still freaked out about typing their real name into the computer, let alone the Internet.

A quick scan of my Twitter stream reveals that apparently real names have replaced nicknames as a means of identification, but this doesn’t change the fact that never in our history have we known more people less.

We spend the day swimming in the 10% of the information that others have deliberately chosen to share with us and while it is overwhelming in volume, it’s only so because there are so many people… who are actually sharing very little.

There is a time and a place that I want to know more, and no amount of Facebook updates is going to placate this curiosity. Perhaps this is a function of my generation, but there are two defining moments for me in the getting-to-know-you phase of a relationship:

#1 Can you talk shit? I’m not talking bland sarcasm, I’m talking about a full court comedy offensive that demonstrates not only that you are aware of your surroundings, but you have a gift for improvisation and the courage to use it.

#2 Where’s your bookshelf? It’s this awkward moment whenever I first walk into your home. Where is it? Everyone has one. It might not be huge. It might be hidden in a closet, but in decades of meeting new people, I’ve never failed in finding one and when I do I consume it.

See, I don’t really trust you until we talk a little shit and then I see your bookshelf.

The Book Stalking Process

This is my process and this is not a process of judgment, but one of assessment, and it proceeds in three phases:

Phase 1: Where are they?

  • Where does you bookshelf live in your home? Is it in an obvious place or are you hiding it? Why are you hiding your books?
  • Is the bookshelf built around the room or vice versa?
  • Do you have a room specifically for books? Hot.
  • Can I see your bookshelf after you’ve sat me down with a glass of wine? Even better.
  • Did you spend money on your bookshelf or is it an IKEA atrocity? Wait, you built that? Awesome.

Phase 2: How are they arranged?

  • Have you committed to a pure bookshelf? What’s the breakdown between books and non-books? This isn’t where I store books; it’s where I demonstrate that I love books.
  • Is the arrangement chaotic or calm? Is this is a shrine or a utility?
  • Vertical or horizontal stacking? What’s the rule? Is there a rule?
  • Is it full? I read. A lot.
  • Does your book arrangement tell a story? Can I find that story quickly or do I need you to tell it? Do you offer it?
  • Do you use bookends? Are they functional or ornate? What’s their story?

Phase 3: And what do you read?

  • Are these the books I expect based on what I know about you?
  • Do these books represent your entire life or just right now?
  • Can I tell, at a glance, the three most important books?
  • Which books are you… hiding?
  • How do you react when you see me stalking your bookshelf? What’s the first story you’re going to tell?
  • Is there a glaringly obvious book that does not belong? When do I get to ask you about it?

What I’m learning during this stalking is my deal. The intricacies of my assessment aren’t the point. You are decidedly and blissfully not me, which is why I’m standing, wine glass in hand, totally and completely lost in your bookshelf. Dr. Seuss and Calvin and Hobbes… interspersed on single shelf. That… is fucking brilliant.

Seven Precious Books

As you grow up, the guarantee is that the world will change, often faster than you are comfortable with. There are two approaches to handling change: either you embrace the change because the change has something to teach you, or you can dig your heels in and say, “Nope, not changing. What worked for me then works for me now and will work for me later.”

It’s my job to observe and embrace change, but I’ve always wondered when I’d grow stubborn enough to hold onto something the next generation had begun to view as an antique.

This is what you need to know. I have three shelves. There’s one in the closet that you’ll never see. It’s full of trashy science fiction, gifts I’ve never read, and an embarrassingly large collection of Far Side books. The second shelf is the one you see above, a place of honor. These are the books that I read once a year, these are the books that I’ll have for the rest of my life. And then there’s the small shelf next to the bed. Seven precious books. A few I’m reading right now and a few… I just need nearby.

See, I can’t imagine a world without books.

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85 Responses

  1. Amen. For me, walking into someone’s house/apartment and finding out that there are no books is as much of a terrifying red-flag moment as noticing that they’re incapable of making eye contact, or appear to have imaginary friends: nevermind the obvious proof that there is no social common ground, the possible tools for building common ground have just been conclusively demonstrated not to exist.

    …also, I expect that there will be body parts in the basement.

  2. You forgot the most important part of books: having that inner circle with which you can loan and borrow books! For most (and I’ll assume this about you) that circle is oh so tiny and membership is invite only, if ever.

    Membership to the trading circle also requires talking shit (about that book you loaned me) and a detailed inspection of your collection before membership is granted 🙂

  3. Cincinnati Joe 15 years ago

    Yeah, we have many shelves (and some boxes). Fortunately our boys are into books too. There is something about holding them. We get many from the library, but still end up owning the ones we really like.

    Sounds like you’d be able to answer, or at least appreciate, the Fahrenheit 451 question: if books were banned, what book would you memorize?

  4. What are the seven books, Rands? Aside from Catcher in the Rye?

  5. I used to read a lot when I was young but sometime around when I went to college I stopped reading for fun. I guess the problem was I did a lot of reading for school which was like “work”.

    I made a point last year (Jan 2008) as a “New Years Resolution” to start reading again, and to read more.

    I helped push this by coupling paper books with audio books, which isn’t exactly reading but it’s what I have time for.

    I’ve actually managed to keep this new habit up now for a year and a half. I’ve gotten through many books that I’d always promised myself I would “eventually get to”.

    It’s certainly an enjoyable hobby to have.

    PS I have two book shelves made of solid Red Oak that I built in High School Wood Shop 13 years ago.

  6. Roy Harvey 15 years ago

    Amen, brother. I often joke that my wife only married me for my library, but we both know that isn’t really the case. By the time we were married she had already gone through pretty much everything I had that was of interest. It had rather a lot to do with us starting to date though! 😎

    There is one room that we call the library. There are three tall deep bookcases arranged as stacks so both sides are reachable, with extra shelves so the spacing is right for just paperbacks, one row on each side of the shelf. Two of those are SF and Fantasy, the third is general fiction and non-fiction. Store bought, but after exhaustive shopping and customized. Then for more paperbacks there is the home-made wall-mounted sized-exactly-for-paperbacks one that goes from just above the baseboard all the way to the ceiling and is six feet long. That is mostly mystery, suspense, sea stories, history, and historical fiction. Then there are three standard veneer covered particleboard Scandinavian-influenced pre-Ikea bookcases for hardcovers; 1.8 for fantasy/sf, 1.2 for assorted other stuff. And two small low bookcases for periodicals.

    Then in the rest of the house, two large in the bedroom (birds, fantasy, history, misc), a double-wide in the spare bedroom (photography, more sf, more misc), two in the room with the TV (the only ones used for other stuff too, less than one for books), the half a wall of unreachable built-ins in what has become the junk room (assorted, mostly non-fiction and old school books), an Ikea for more old school books, another on the wall over my computer that is half computer references… I know I missed some, like three more just for periodicals. Problem is, we have an awful lot of books with no place to put them because all those are full.

    I have done enough reading on-line that I appreciate the idea of the Kindle, but at heart it terrifies me. It terrifies me because more than half of those thousands upon thousands of books were bought used or remaindered. Some were bought six months after the first printing and bought used to save money, others sixty years after the last printing when used was the only way they exist. Some were bought after years of searching (much easier now with it all on-line), others after a random encounter in those wonderful places, used book stores.

  7. Sadly, I don’t have a book shelf at home. I have a few piles of what I will read soon. Instead, my bookshelf is currently at my in-laws house where there is much more room. I miss being able to browse through my books at any time.

    I would treat ebooks the way I treat library books. They are good for something I want to read, but not something I want to treasure.

  8. As much as I like the idea of being able to carry around books as easily as music on an iPod, it’s just not the “right” experience for me without the texture of the paper and the smell of the printing ink. Books are meant to wear and age. And it’s a bit harder to leave yourself notes in the margins of digital books (at least at the moment).

    Then mention of book “rooms” makes me think I should dig up some photos of my father-in-law’s book “building”, otherwise known as “The Scriptorium”. Something tells me you might enjoy them.

  9. I’m sitting in my living room looking at 3, no 4 bookshelves full. And we have a room upstairs devoted to just books (and an airbed for guests), and an entire wall of our twocar garage covered two deep in boxes of books that haven’t been unpacked and shelved yet.

    I no longer buy *newly-published* books in paper. I won’t buy them except in e-reader format. I own a Kindle. I have never written in a book, or highlighted a book. I am quite happy to make notes in my kindle, knowing I’m not damaging anything.

    I used to carry an entire piece of luggage *just for books* on any trip longer than a weekend (yes, I read fast). Now, I carry my kindle.

    I love books. I’ve always been a reader. I used to read the shampoo bottles in the bathtub, the toothpaste tube, and the cereal boxes if that was the only thing available. Now, I put my kindle in a ziploc bag and read happily whereever – the bathtub, the hottub, the dinnertable.

    I do buy used books – at used bookstores. When I couldn’t find some old Asimov books on kindle, I haunted the used bookstores until I found them.

    We’ve also been donating regularly to our local “friends of the library” program – trying to just find space in our house for the books we *really want* in our home.

    So yeah – I understand – but I also, well, I really love my kindle.

  10. The Kindle should never have been sold as a platform for books. It should have been marketed for magazines and newspapers. You know…those things people are used to paying for with a subscription model, but publishers can’t figure out how to make that model work online? Those things that are traditionally printed on costly paper, but everyone regards as temporary and disposable? Magazines, newspapers, and maybe throw in those textbooks people have to buy but could never love…that’s what the Kindle should have been for all along.

  11. My wife and I just recently moved and decided to get rid of most of our books. We are both avid readers and acquire somewhere between 80-120 books per year. We have been doing so for the last decade living together and we both started with one or two overflowing bookcases when we moved together. The end result was four floor to ceiling heavy duty Lundia shelves and a several dozens of boxes in the garage.

    As much as we love reading we were slowly getting suffocated by the sheer amount of mass we were moving around. After 10 moves and 4 countries you start to appreciate how much energy it takes just to pack, unpack and manage all the books. We argued like you do, that books show who we are, our identity. In the end we decided that without clearing space we could simply not go on acquiring new books and would stagnate and live in the past.

    So we are sorting everything into four piles: the permanent collection, books to read, books for our daughter and everything else. The first pile is a few shelves next to the fireplace and a few shelves at the workshop and studio. The second pile will probably get rules that require throwing something away when the pile exceeds 80 books (heh). The third pile is a small selection of a few authors (usually their whole production) that we are saving for our daughter when she starts reading. Everything else has been donated or sent to friends. The key thing for me to realize was that even if a book has been defining for your identity, if you have integrated it completely into your life you won’t need it any longer.

    The feeling has been liberating and quite empowering. On one hand we now feel much better with getting more books given there is mental space for them. On the other hand our slimmed down permanent collection is now positively dazzling with intensity and focus.

  12. Robert Hickey 15 years ago

    Don’t know if I would talk shit with you. But we would have a lot to talk about with books.

    I have bookcases in every room I have to live in. In the main living room there are 6, five or six feet tall. I’ve been a poor student most of my life so the bookcases are whatever I could find. The books are about 1/3 non-technical and those are ones I’ve collected over the years.

    It’s not the kind of books you were talking about but have you seen these pics of the famous libraries of the World? Titled “Library Porn”.

  13. Habakkuk 15 years ago

    I grew up in a world with 3 hours of TV program each day, mostly about the propaganda of the communist regime that was ruling us then. On a weekend there was a whole hour of documentaries (like the 4 Discovery channels I am have right now :)), so the only thing we really had were books, and even those were hard to get. We learned to love them for all they meant, not just the writing. We shared them and strangely they became a way to create social networks, to share & comment, discus and debate.

    Those books were lousy, most were printed on awful paper, there were no pictures, no drawings, even the covers were sad, but they did their job. We used our imagination to picture anything from warships and meadows and secular forests. I have an extensive collection of books (over 5000 titles) and I still find interesting ones I haven’t read so I’m still buying paper. But I’m old school.

    Kindle and e-books are the first steps towards the future of reading. Paper books are only a matter of habit and education. The kids today will not get to know paper books as I did. They are boring for them, there is no fun in them, not will all the TV & interactive web. From my point of view, whatever makes people read and socialize is ok. I really wonder when will Kindle ship with an IM so that you can discuss your favorite passage with your friends :)… that’s a long shot

  14. Thanks for pointing this stuff out in such a well-written way. It’s important that people own books; in my circle of low-income arty friends it’s really common that your collection of books is the heaviest thing to move. Great for most of the year; terrible for that part of the year when you move house.

  15. (I normally sign blog comments with my first name, but I’ve just gotten back from defcon, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, and you mentioned it in this post, so I’m signing this with my own nickname that I acquired in the 90’s.)

    I envy you for a lot of this. I too, love books. However, I’m forced to conclude I don’t love them as much as I think, because I rarely read them. I can’t actually tell you the last time I read a book, and I own a sony reader plus a shelf full of books. (My bookcase is in the center of my home, right behind the couch. I can literally turn around and grab a book whenever I want, but I never seem to.)

    For comics, I have a better experience reading CBRs on my screen than I do reading the trades I normally buy.

    I have a number of serial fiction blogs I’ve been reading, which satisfies my need for fiction. Sure, I may not have the tactile feel of the book, but I also don’t have problems finding a comfortable reading position, or having enough light. I read “They’re Made Out of Meat” and “Simon of Space” this way. (Incidentally, I own 3 different deadtree editions of “Simon of Space,” and I’ve only read one of them.)

    I guess what I’m saying in all of this is that your inability to imagine a world without books is your own imagination failing. I can imagine a world without books, and it makes me happy because more writing is available for me to consume. We’re still in the very early stages of all this, and I have little doubt that we’ll find ways to recreate the transmission of social information you’re talking about.

  16. Damon Oehlman 15 years ago

    Great post Rands.

    I identify but also differ with your point of view. I seem to suffer an affliction that has me buying books but never reading them – slowing down and taking the time to read really just isn’t working for me at the moment.

    Still what a physical book says about you and the presentation of those books is true for me definitely (bookcase is littered with gadgets and at best a 50/50 split between books and gadgets).

    Still, reckon I’ll buy a Kindle. Convenience over charm and character in this particular case for me. But don’t get me started on valve amps – that is a different story.

  17. awesomest

  18. Looking around me, I’m amazed at all the paraphernalia I have laying around. The most handy book I have close is an eight-year-old pocket reference dictionary that I’ve been using since high-school. Besides that, more computer junk than books.

    Forget book shelves: Bathroom vanities standing precariously upside-down on a desk are where it’s at. Except for the floss smell.

  19. I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you. I own books, a lot of books (10 bookselfs+boxes in the garage). I just want to digitalize them all!!

    Sorry, but I want:

    + To be able to access it in my pocket, anywhere I am , every time I feel like it, without transporting metric tons with me.

    + To be able to organize it, and “google my collection”(or spotlighting it). Something like photoreading with the entire collection, fast, without having to move around all my house.

    + I don’t care how a book smells(dust?), or how it tastes(carcinogen ink?).

    + I care about all the dead trees needed for my collection to grow(living things, not dead ones).

    + I want to be able to handstroke and voice annotate a book(I can on a computer), use colors, and so without physically modifying the book. This will only improve with time.

    People get emotional about physical things, reasons: is the book his father give him/her, his first experiences with live,their home, their friends, their childhood…

    Nature has a solution for that: death and birth. People that is children today will remember an ebook as natural, and associate it with their family, their friends and so on, people that are older will die with their vision of life, children will grow, and so on.

  20. Miles Archer 15 years ago

    Bookshelf? You mean you can put things other than books on a shelf?

  21. The first thing a person sees when they walk into my apartment is 2 completely* full seven foot bookshelves. They stand on both walls of a corner, with a stereo between them. That is all of my fiction books. I have a smaller shelf farther down the wall that is filled with my non-fiction books. And currently, I have a pile-stack of books on the floor of my bedroom which I’ve finished over the past few months and haven’t gotten around to shelving.

    Not only do I bookstalk other people (though it’s often difficult here in the DC area because so many people are transient to the area and don’t maintain a large library), I evaluate people who visit me based on how they react to my shelves.

    For some bookshelf-voyeurism, check out Lookshelves

    *including about 4 inches worth of my favorite vinyl albums (and I suppose I should note that I’m only 25 years old).

  22. Keith Everson 15 years ago

    The existence of a leatherbound copy of “Hitchhiker’s…”, and copies of Harry Potter speaks volumes (yes, PUN) to me. It’s also strikingly familiar, though I keep my copy of “Hitchhiker’s…” on a towel.

  23. Robert Fisher 15 years ago

    I think this is the irony with the new age of internet usage. We are still newborns really and as more people get more crazy ideas they will make them and people will follow, thus becoming the most popular social site on the internet but with no real change in functionality. It is amazing how the social websites are already getting a ding for being empty places to linger, that the friends on there are really not your friends and that they could care less about you.

    So on that note, how could the internet be better? Everyone keeps pointing back to the roots, yet still using the same tools. As we get lazier and lazier, we lose contact with reality on how to find real friends off of the internet.

    So how is the internet any different than say going to a dance club? you walk in, you wave at a bunch of people you might have seen there before, and you go straight to the corner/table where your real friends hang out (or you think so anyway).

  24. Gaita 15 years ago

    I think I’ve read more books from an old CRT screen than from actual wood pulp. One thought that still makes me cling to paper is that I can decode the words directly, I don’t need a device that decodes the bytes for me, so I can later decode the text…

  25. I used to do this with peoples’ CD collection, but the ipod revolution messed that right up. Take away books and it’s going to get really hard to work out what people are like 😉 But really, looking at someone’s ipod is not as revealing as looking at a physical collection of CDs (broadly speaking, I’ve found people are less choosy about things they’ll bung onto their ipod). So I like looking at bookshelves.

    I’ve known some people who don’t read… now that freaked me out! How do they go to sleep if they don’t read first?

  26. marissa 15 years ago

    So here’s the amazing thing so few essays on the Kindle ever seem to mention: YOU CAN HAVE BOTH.

    I still buy the hardcover books of authors I love. I still take my time in bookstores and buy the occasional random paperback (and always buy any kind of reference books in print).

    But I also buy books on my kindle, read them on my kindle, love them on my kindle.

    And the real surprise has been that I often can’t remember if I read a book on my kindle or in print. If it’s a halfway decent book, it’s the story I remember–not the format.

  27. Crank 15 years ago

    There is a certain relief in being married and hardly remembering what it was to scope out somebody’s bookcases. Is it really more indecent to peek at cleavage than to make snap judgments based on the books in the living room?

    It is curious to note that some notable writers have been ruthless about pruning their collections. Emerson wanted to see Landor’s library, but found that Landor got rid of most books once he had read them. Helen Hanff, the woman who publisher her correspondence with a London bookshop, worked on a one-bookcase system.

  28. Greg D 15 years ago

    Is it a sign of the generational gap that my friends all seem to be DVD stalkers, leaving my bookshelf alone?

    Or maybe (more likely) they watch movies as voraciously as I read books.

    I like to run with two main bookshelves: Technical shelf in my dev’t cave, everything else (two layers deep) right next to my bed so I can read whatever I feel like in the quiet of a late summer evening. I need another bookshelf.

  29. You can see some of my (old) bookshelves here, but the new ones—I just moved—are still unphotographed.

    I go through the same stalking process, except I don’t call it stalking. The strangest thing is the number of my friends who don’t have bookshelves. That’s a particularly bad sign on a date: empty or absent shelves seems to be correlated (not perfectly, but well) with empty or absent minds.

  30. @MaggieL 15 years ago

    Rands may possibly view this as anathema…but still:

    Mine is

    You can add your books easily with a barcode wedge. It understands the output of an un-declawed CueCat too (they will sell you one cheap).

    This isn’t to put down the experience of real paper books, at all. But it lets folks you know get a feel of what your bookshelf is like even if they can’t come over for a glass of wine.

  31. I own a very large collection of books. What I do now is to digitize (scan) them and store on my 1 terabyte external hard drive. I am not a kindle fun but I have a netbook and sometimes i move a lot of books unto it after digitization because my job makes me always hit the road. But the tradition of books on the shelf is much of a ritual i cant part with

  32. Michael B 15 years ago

    I wonder why we fill our shelves with books we’ve already read instead of books we plan to read.

    How wonderful would that be? To have forty, fifty books you want to read waiting to be cracked open. And yet I’ve never seen anybody do this, not even myself.

    Resolution time!

  33. Once in a long while I come across something that touches me in a way that I finish and say “I wish I had written that”. And this was one of those posts. Books are a huge part of my life and I have done what you are saying when visiting friends houses. I just never sat down and analyzed the process and what it meant to me. You succinctly laid out why books are so important and how we measure a man by his library. I’m definitely passing this along. Well done sir.

  34. @Michael B – That’s colloquially called an “anti-library”. Perhaps the most famous possessor of one is Umberto Eco. His collection runs ~30K books, which are used as a research tool, i.e. are largely unread.

    The more he learns over time, the more books he accumulates, which have the additional value of illustrating how much he still doesn’t know. There was a section about it in Taleb’s The Black Swan, I believe.

  35. Um…. You read Catcher In The Rye once a year. Some books you “just need nearby.” Not to be a Jerry* or anything, but… what’s your middle name? Should we know your middle name?

    *Reference to the character Jerry Fletcher in the movie Conspiracy Theory. For the uninformed, part of the subplot was that these programmed assassins all had copies of The Catcher In The Rye, and they felt compelled to carry one with them at all times.

  36. I actually loved this post. I have one bookshelf in my room that you see as soon as you walk in and they’re organized alphabetically, as best as they can. One shelf is full of books that still need to be read – it used to be the shelf where I kept all my books for my thesis and from the library so they didn’t get mixed in with mine.

    Once I move to a new place, I’m aiming for a space where I can have both my bookshelves and keep the few hundred books I have out of boxes and on display, making it much more convenient to grab.

    For the same reasons as you? I will never be able to give way to the kindle, no matter how awesome it might seem to have hundreds of books on one little reader.

  37. Rob Alle 15 years ago

    My wife and I have 4 bookshelves between us that are “just for books.” The fun stuff is in our living room and spans 2 book cases, work stuff is in the office upstairs. There is even a book case in the basement for books we didn’t like but are holding onto for some reason. Our 5 month old’s collection will soon require a full fledged book case of his own in a matter of months. Oh, and we have Kindle 2 as well which has not slowed the growth of our collection.

    I like to think that in the future, as publishers become less fearful of the digital realm, that physical books will include a DRM-free digital copy, gratis. Manning does this with some of their programming references. Hopefully the practice will make its way into fiction.

  38. Would you feel comfortable walking into someone’s house (in the future) and saying, “May I see your Kindle?”

  39. Bookshelf analysis is an activity that I love doing, but didn’t realize until reading this. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    I think that ebook readers will become more prevalent as time goes on, but will never fully replace books. While music as physical media may well be replaced by its digital representation, certain peoples’ affinity to the sensual aspect of reading books will never die quietly.

  40. Jake M 15 years ago

    I read over 250 books each year but I couldn’t be farther apart from you. There was a time when I might have agreed but now it seems somewhat smug, vain, pretentious and yes, antiquated.

    After a few moves, the discovery of libraries and e-books, my bookshelf is now reduced to a couple dozen reference books, maps, guides and others that cannot be found online. It’s freeing and the books can be read instead of collecting dust in an attempt to impress others. Collecting hundreds of kilos of paper that is rarely opened doesn’t make you a Book Lover, it makes you a book collector. One is vibrant and alive, the other is moribund.

    I’ll take reading over collecting any day, thank you.

  41. Johan 15 years ago

    Rands, as an engineer I have two shelves full of books. I for one wish that I can take them with me when I work overseas, not to mention that my book case is actually a waste of space in “our” house. Lastly, (don’t know the author of this) “save a tree, eat a beaver :-p” (Silly joke, but holds truth).

  42. This is the finest piece of library porn I’ve encountered:

    That said, I’m a voracious reader, but you’d be disappointed by my bookshelves; I get most of my reading from the library. Pretty much all that’s on my bookshelves is that handful I read over and over, and stuff obscure enough that the library doesn’t have it.

  43. I’m with you 100% but I think you’re giving music short shrift, you DO look at album covers, and you do handle albums and CDs to play them. I love the iPod, I always dreamed of such a device, but I still buy LPs and love the ritual of unsealing them, looking at them, cleaning them, futzing with the needle… It’s every bit as engaging as a book. CDs robbed you of the ceremony, and MP3s sacrifice sound and interaction for convenience. Listening to LPs with some nice headphones in a darkened room is a wholly different experience than listening to an iPod on a bus.

    And make no mistake, I judge people by their music collection, just as you do. Everyone has one, and if they don’t, I’m not above scrolling through their iPod to see what they’re into.

    And a large music collection is even more fun to share. “Come over and we’ll listen to records. Don’t like this album? OK, let’s try this one. Make a pile of the stuff you wanna listen to.”

    Try that with two book lovers and a room full of novels. Not as social, is it, heh?

  44. Diogo 15 years ago

    “Gimme the Watchmen”, you said. Indeed, they are really that important.

  45. I love the convenience of having some books in electronic form with me and/or listening to podiobooks while driving, in the gym etc. But most of them still have to be bought and put on the shelves (by IKEA – just because they had to be cheap) 😉

    I predict that I will have a mix of electronic only books and the outstanding ones preferably as nice hardcover editions in the future.

  46. Drew Hamilton 15 years ago

    Events int he past 6 months have lead me into reading frequently and obsessively. I have been considering, for the last two months, a purchase of a Kindle. But I ran into the same thought process. Holding, smelling, touching, and wearing in a real live book is a huge part of the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge techy myself, and thought going from physical CDs to iTunes downloads would wrong (converted anyways), but this will be something I wont cave on. I doubt I will be happy until I buy a kindle and put a few read once books on it, but it wont replace my real books, especially the ones I keep by my bed for what ever need may arise.

  47. sandrift 15 years ago

    Bookcases were a big part of why we bought the house we now own. I was amazed when I walked in the front door for the first time, and found myself standing in front of a semi-circular (actually ~2/3 circle) maple bookcase that steps upward from left (~3′ high) to right (~12′ high) with stairs going around behind it. The house is literally built around the bookcase, which is How Things Ought To Be.

    Books are arranged by subject and then by size (I had to be obsessive-compulsive about something in addition to subject). There are sections on Abraham Lincoln, outdoor adventure stories, travel, non-fiction, fiction, geology, hiking, humor, space, gardening, photography, etc.

    I agree with most of what you’ve said here about looking at other people’s books as a window into their personality and how they value books/reading, but on the flip side, it’s equally interesting to see who really notices our bookcase, how long they spend there, and what subjects or authors they hone in on. I also pay attention to whether or not people notice the condition of the books. Books I’ve read three or four times may look like they’ve never been opened; for me, it’s a sign of respect to the book gods to not fold corners, break bindings, and so on. Okay, it’s also an OC thing, too.

    Definitely no Kindle for me.

  48. No Books Here 15 years ago

    After leaving university and moving from place to place, I simply gave up carrying books around. Anything I read now is in some digital format and I only read on my computer. If necessary, I might print it but I will discard the pages as soon as I am done.

  49. Nice post. My wife and I are book-loving packrats, so we have never had enough shelf space for books, despite having a room mostly dedicated to books. I inherited the fascination legitimately from my great grandparents; people who loved and valued books and eschewed television, but I digress.

    I agree that knowing someone else’s reading preferences is a crucial key to understanding them, and sharing the same level of reverence for the printed word tends to have a fairly high correlation with compatibility for me.

    For me the distinction between real books and digital ones revolves around the fact that digital books feel too ephemeral to me. It’s too easy for me to take them for granted and devalue them or overlook them.

    It’s far to late for me to organize many more thoughts around this, but I would like to point out that one of the reasons people chose handles different from their real names “in the mid-90s” (the tradition is older than than that) is that the online world presented an opportunity to reinvent oneself in the manner of one’s choosing. Selecting a name was part of that invention. With the spread of the internet and the subsequent mainstreaming of it, a person’s online persona became just another extension of their real identity and not an alter ego projection. With that shift, handles became less meaningful.

    And with that, I leave you with this (don’t worry, no books were harmed).

  50. Livia Llewellyn 15 years ago

    That photo of your bookshelf is driving me up the fucking wall. Make it LARGER so I can read the spines. Thanks!

  51. I always look for the books too. Houses without visible books weird me out a little.

    We have bookcases in nearly every room and stacks of books next to the comfy chairs. (And on the nightstand in my husband’s case; I can’t get comfortable reading in bed myself.) As someone who has a fairly visual memory (“I think that passage I’m looking for is about 3/4 of the way through, near the bottom of a right-hand page…ah, there it is!”) I want the actual books. And I want the tactile experience of the book, and to be able to put a physical bookmark in it when setting it aside for a while. Mmm, books.

  52. My friend has a John Waters quote on her refrigerator: “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have any books, don’t fuck ’em.” But this was much more thorough. Formating and texture are so important to literature that it truly would be a shame for electronics to completely conquer. Thanks for posting.

  53. “Is there a glaringly obvious book that does not belong? When do I get to ask you about it?”

    Funny story, that. I have a lot of what you might call literati books–untranslated Russian authors, South American writers, heavy-duty philosophy tomes, the Irish Holy Trinity, etc. etc. And in between my Beckett and Proust lies my Jerkcity book, right at eye level. Most of my dates immediately grab it, flip through it, and then give me guarded, if quizzical looks.

    A while back, I swore to myself that I’d marry the girl who sat down with it and started laughing hysterically, because that’s the type of person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

    I am still unmarried. So, um, thanks Rands.

  54. Orson 15 years ago

    Me, I’m a second class citizen – kindle on the iPhone, surrounded by Lies so it’ll work outside the US.

    It’s a life changer.

    I always have a book on me – I can read it whenever, whereever – I carry my phone everywhere, unlike a book.

    Kindle type reading is good for throw aways – it’ll never replace the books that mean a lot to me, but it’s way handy for the ones I just want to read. 300+ books on my phone will never replace the 1000+ books on my shelves – even if some books are in both places.

  55. Isabel 15 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am surrounded by Kindle lovers who look at me like I have totally lost my mind when I say that I am not willing to give up my books…nice to know I’m not alone!

  56. I have mixed feelings about books. I adore them, read constantly but owning so many is a responsibility and a cost. I also have a very small bungalow so my space is limited. As a Professional Organizer, I work with many people who fill their space with books (and other stuff) and have no room to have an actual life. There’s a fine line between owning books and letting them own you.

    That being said, my husband built a floor to ceiling bookshelf into a wall for me just for my books. What can I say? And I love looking at other people’s bookshelves – and showing them mine.

    I’m really not interested in a kindle. I just love having the book and the wine in my hands, turning the pages while I sit on my front porch. That is the best time of my day.

    I loved how you expressed your views on books (and the kindle) – excellent post.

  57. I find I generally remember stuff better when I’ve read it in a book as opposed to on-screen. Not sure why, maybe all the added context you get with a book (the feel of the book, whether the words are on the left or right page, their position on the page, etc.)

    I’d love to try an Kindle to see where that fits in.

  58. Kerry 15 years ago

    The type and state of binding is something I also look for. Are they hardbacks (trade or specially bound) or paperbacks, with or without dustcovers, broken spines or mint condition or good spines but obviously read – ie worn dustcover on hardbacks or covers that curl slightly on paperbacks (a sure sign of a book lover as opposed to just a reader)? I use the state of the spines as an indicator of whether this is someone I’d lend books to. In that vein, I also look to see how they mark their place in a book – do they leave it upside down and open, or use a bookmark (cardboard or leather or improvised)? I have yet to meet anyone who uses bookplates – they seem to have gone out of fashion.

  59. I agree with Marissa, you can have both. I have a recent post on my blog where I talk about Kindle on the iPhone and innovation. Also having moved to Japan from California last year, I had to get rid of a lot of things and unfortunately due to weight I could not keep as many books as I would have liked because of weight limitations. So I was left with a few books that I treasure and then an intense desire to read and being in Japan I cannot easily get to a pure English bookstore to find what I’m looking for.

  60. Dean Jackson 15 years ago

    I can’t imagine carrying a Kindle around. It’s not saving me any hassle from carrying a book, and I can get those free-and-reuseable from a library, or I can own them outright with very little extra cash.

    But the Kindle app on the iPhone is genius. It’s something I’m already carrying, and it Changed My Reading Habits. I read everywhere now, when before, carrying a book around made it impractical to just pull it out and go. (Lunchtime at work? Waiting on someone late for a meeting? Stuck at the bus stop in the dark? Long line at the grocery?)

  61. Guiness Fan 15 years ago

    I like books and agree they say a lot about a person. The “..what is on your bookshelf?” is an interesting point, but with a Kindle (I use eReader on my cellphone) you could show someone your bookshelf from everywhere. What is on your IPod has replaced do you have that album.

    Can you learn anything about a person on where they have their Kindle? The bookshelf hidden in the basement may be full, but you don’t get the impression that books are important. Maybe the wife just doesn’t want guests to see the clutter? Again, you would have to come to my house to gain this insight or more likely, I could show you on the train, coffee shop, bookstore, etc. I meet more people outside of my home than inside.

  62. Reminds me of one of my favorite Margery Allingham quotations, from Dancers in Mourning, describing a suspect’s flat: “The other pictures varied between the sentimentally lewd and the illustrated Scotch joke variety wherein Glengarried dogs take the place of figures. There were no books and a small writing table with drawers was the only sign of mental activity.”

  63. Kerry 15 years ago

    How can a Kindle highlight the (relative) importance of a work to you the way location in one’s home does? How can you know which books are for show and which are well-thumbed? Does a Kindle highlight that you haven’t actually read a book the way an uncut book does with its special smell?


    I am primarily a non-fiction reader, and my collection is very modest in size (relative to many of the posts above, positively humble).

    You can tell quite a lot about someone from their LibraryThing collection. Do they bother with covers? Do they tag? Do they bother to rate them, or at the least their favorites? If so, what book’s got 5 stars?

    A couple of years ago I wrote an article on my blog about tying my personal library to Google’s booksearch, as a proxy to give digital text search of non-digital media

  65. Have a massive amount of books, and the thought of owning a Kindle always disgusted me. I still think the printed book will be around (dominant) forever, there’s just TOO many people out there who like to OWN what they bought without fear of deletion–recently, I have been considering getting one, simply because I am on a classic fantasy and horror kick, lots of Robert E Howard, Arthur Machen, Lovecraft, etc–and the pulp books are piling up.

    There’s something to be said for owning a deluxe edition of “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” or an annotated copy of “Ulysses,” or a favorite dog-eared copy of “Zarathustra” that you’ve had longer than your oldest item of clothing. But I could care less about these Robert Jordan books, Conan books, et al.

    I think the kindle is really for books you don’t give a crap about. I’m not re-reading it ever, right now it’s immediate pulpy entertainment. Conversely, I would never expect to sit down and read a classic digitally–just something weird about it, not sure why.

  66. duncan 15 years ago

    We own several mostly well-made bookcases, organized topically: history, architecture/urban design (my major, hence an area of indulgence), fiction, classics, travel, reference and cooking. The airplane books (and they accumulate until I purge a box to the local retirement home or convent) are in the den along with the family memorabilia. In the bedroom is what I’m currently reading.

    The bookcases I’ve made were, sadly, built in to my parent’s former house, since sold. My parents were both voracious readers and so I’ve inherited one bookcase’s worth of great old hardbacks. My dad also made several himself from redwood, back when it didn’t cost a fortune per linear foot. My ideal of a personal library is along the lines of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park studio. I have several pictures of this but here’s a decent one from Der Google.×468.jpg

    It’s difficult to tell from this picture why a room like this would be the perfect home library space, but having been there more than once (yep, I’m an architecture geek) I’ve found that the basic form is perfectly suited to my idea of a library: great natural light from all directions, where one can sit reading for hours, surrounded by books.

    I don’t mind in the least hauling books around and I suspect I never will. Stacking them in the various bookcases is an exercise in thought and planning, and above all delight as I encounter old friends and set some aside to re-read.

  67. Travis Butler 15 years ago

    I find myself pulled in both directions. I have a huge library, with bookshelves lining the walls, in the hallway, and tucked in wherever I could find space. I love books, I love collecting books; I love the cover art of an old 60’s Ace Double, and even have nostalgic feelings for the brown, brittle acid-weakened paper. I can’t imagine ever wanting to get rid of them.

    On the other hand, more often than not, when I sit down to read I’d rather pick up my iPhone. It doesn’t show as many words on a screen, no… but it’s lighter and fits in my hand better than even a slim paperback, let alone the huge thickbricks that started coming into vogue in the 80’s. No hand cramps while trying to hold a grip that keeps the book open with one hand, while I eat with the other. And, of course, having dozens of books in my pocket, available to me anywhere, even where it’d be inconvenient to carry a paperback – let alone a hardcover.

    (And perhaps for the ultimate bibliophilic house, I have to go to the anime Read or Die – take a look at this YouTube snippet, starting around 2:50 for a view of the apartment. The book shopping tour starting around 4:40 is also classic. 🙂 “Our most important customer. If you see her, say hello to her!”)

  68. Found this photo of my Art/Architecture/Design collection:

    This is from home-sale photos. I keep my “reading” books on a shelf in my home office (actually, at the moment I keep all of them in storage).

  69. Henry 15 years ago

    Rands, I always enjoy your posts/twits. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m an avid reader who shared many of your concerns with purchasing a Kindle – until I bought one.

    I decided it was time to buy one of the little buggers around the third or fourth trip. I was moving cross-town, you see, and doing so the cheap way – me and several of my friends with pizza and beer as payment. As we were packing up my bookcases with cheap cardboard boxes – that repeatedly broke on us – I realized that there was simply no hope of comfortably maintaining a library of several hundred books (and that doesn’t count the many “checked out” in informal circulation).

    I bought the Kindle the next day – and it’s fantastic.

    1) I bring a library with me everywhere I go (and at lower cost!). I’m the kind of guy that appreciates this – when on travel I always would bring roughly 17 times the amount of reading material I would actually go through. The Kindle has helped pare down my packing needs in such a way that the lightweight model of movement has bled (for the better) into other areas of my day.

    2) Buying and avidly using a Kindle does NOT keep me from buying books – it actually makes me more deliberate about it. Technical/reference books cannot be replaced, and some books call out for notes scribbled in the margins. That makes those physical book purchases all the more important to me.

    After all, there are two kinds of books. The books we buy to learn from (in a literal fashion) and to use – books like manuals, “XXXXX for Dummies,” art & photography books. Books that are useful or impressive because of size and shape and colors and pictures. And the other kind of book is the book we simply read. The kind where the words are the material that matters. And for the first type, yes, the Kindle is no good with its flat-matte screen and grayscale. But for the second type, the Kindle cannot be beat.

    The downside? Well, its Amazon-only. And you can’t swap it with your friends (although many of those books get lost forever anyway!). But the benefit of the product…well, it really does change the way and the amount that I read.

  70. Great article, but what stood out for me was your awesome bookshelf and the colour of the room!


  71. I’m not quite a collector like you, but I do love having my books in, well, book-format.

    I do have one question, though, if you happen to see this. What is your feeling on ordering the books? I noticed your Harry Potter series is not quite in order, and that would drive me utterly insane! Do you care strongly either way?

  72. A. Peon 15 years ago

    Interesting. I like CDs for the liner notes, because it turns out I like concept albums and would never buy a single [hey, LPs and CDs had a length for a reason – the length of real performances – though of course, after listening a few times, I’ll throw my whole collection on shuffle and let it become background music].

    So as a child of the ’80s, let me be contrary here:

    Books suck. They’re big, they’re bulky, they’re awkward to hold open, they give schoolkids scoliosis, and pulp paperbacks can be squinty to read even for a nearsighted 20-something.

    The problem is that eBooks and reading devices, to date, have mostly sucked even worse. Reading textfiles on a Tandy 1000 was a joy compared to any modern device.

    File format issues:

    – DRM, DRM, DRM

    – Someone decided it would be brilliant to paginate and typeset eBooks. Most formats are PDF or PDF-like. The rest are HTML-like. All of the PDF-like formats have the usual drawbacks (PDF was expensive to render – high latency – until just recently; fonts are fixed, pagination is fixed)…

    HTML-like formats either try too hard to be hypertexty, or lack any sense of positioning.

    In comparison, a stream of ASCII, whether fixed-width or paragraph-delimited, was easier to deal with, and could be referenced by line number or character count.

    To the producers of today’s eBooks, I’d suggest the following: Create a format with standard tables-of-contents and indices.

    “Paginate” by inserting page-break symbols into the text and rendering them as newlines plus a faint horizontal line. Break chapters with a chapter-break symbol that gets rendered as a thicker line or gap.

    Embed a “suggested font” or fonts, but let the reader override it. Stick to five or less in even the most complex works. It’s a book, not a magazine. Magazines have been replaced by websites. If you want pixel-perfect layout that’ll look really weird when displays triple in DPI, go play in HTML5.

    Illustrations: break the text, center them, and make it software’s problem to scale them to the right size if someone’s actually printing the page. Provide a simple in-place zoom feature – as Mozilla used to let you scale only text, now only images – and a button I can push to flip through the chapter’s images fullscreen with roughly the same features CompuShow offered back in 1990.

    – Use chapter.paragraph_number as the new form of reference. Or chapter.”page”.paragraph_number if you must. This is good enough to get to roughly-the-right-place in different versions of a text. Display a status bar that says the current display is showing “*5.20 – 5.26*”, say, * to denote that the beginning and end of those extend off the screen. Possibly throw a little bar on the side that displays these like line numbers, though you probably want a button for that, or to reserve space so stuff doesn’t rewrap on you. Okay, I guess you also want to show a total-book position, which again, might as well be absolute_paragraph#/total_paragraphs.

    – Electronic-only? Nobody cares about your page-break characters. People making fair use are going to want to print on 8.5×11 or A4, so you can never win anyway. Let the reader software put marks at N-hundred character intervals or N-paragraph intervals if the reader wants a feeling of accomplishment.

    – Highlighting and notes? Highlighting, sure. Notes, I’ll use a pad of paper or a second device, but whatever – put them in some XML file that both refers to the position of and directly quotes the highlighted text so you can immediately make fair use of what you thought was important.

    – Some people are going to want to scroll screen-by-screen (sort of like page-by-page). Some people are going to want to scroll line-by-line. Some people are going to want a smooth autoscroll, with, say, a multiple-speed rocker switch. Support all of these properly. Horrible e-ink refresh rates are an excuse to go screen-by-screen, but give the option of old textfile viewers – leave the last line of the previous screen showing so the reader doesn’t get “lost”.

    – You need to make it easy to ‘flip ahead’ and to flip back. This is kind of a pisser, but a quick leap to the contents, index, and chapter-by-chapter and N-paragraph increments within the chapter should be enough, and implementable with a minimum of additional buttons and button-presses [just keep it as non-modal as possible, please]. It’s The Future. There are no “pages” anymore, and line lengths vary based on font/screen/zoom. Stop dicking around. We’ll get used to it.

    People never had a problem working “the scroll” (aside from dropping one and fucking one up) until the “binding” was invented.

    Okay, now hardware:

    – Expensive expensive expensive expensive expensive


    I still wonder why nobody could get $99 Rex-type device (remember that? An all-screen PDA on a PCMCIA card) on the market ~1995 that would just read ASCII and maybe display .GIFs. Then we would have adjusted to all this by now.

    Hardware readers need to be cheap and durable. You need to be able to hand or loan them to someone without giving too much of a shit. [Anathema to publishers: See again, DRM.] You need to not cry if you leave one on the bus – and you need to not-cry because *of course* you had a usable backup of everything on the SD card and anything you didn’t back up probably cost between $2 and $5.

    Yeah, it sucks that people can be “freetards” and avoid paying for anything now. People with money and consciences are going to feel bad and >50% of those will pay you anyway. People without either money or consciences are not going to pay you no matter what. Set your prices appropriately.

    – Waterproof: This is easier to do with electronics than paper, just sheath it all in silicone. This would be a major selling point. Worried about liability if it does leak and destroy someone’s library? Then let people back up their shit.

    – Multiple form factors, transferable data: This is why iPhones and other cloudy crap will be scooping Amazon shortly: If you’ve paid for something, at least you can sort of read it on multiple devices if you try hard enough. See also: Web pages. To keep dedicated cheap reading hardware relevant, either make it take SD or at least make it a USB mass-storage device. It would be best to make it Bluetooth or WUSB or something, really, so you can back up the ‘library’ ($25-$75 reader device) you carry to the ‘library’ ($25-$75 reader device) you keep on the bookshelf at home by holding them near each other and holding down a button.

    – People read websites and might pay for iTunes but no normal human really wants to set up their own libraryd, unless it’s as easy as that. After IPv6 lands and there’s a chance of building some sort of key-exchange-for-morons into something like a little NAS box (again, hold the reader near it, hold down a button), maybe that will change. Publishers will still bitch about people inviting their friends over and letting them hold down their buttons, though, so we’ll probably never get a device and system that doesn’t completely suck. Except for web pages.

    – Magazines and subscriptions belong on web pages because you’re going to lose your damn reader_device but you have a snowball’s chance of getting back into a web page. Plus, the publishers would like to lock you out completely after the subscription is up so you’ll need to repurchase any content you forget to wget. So either do something only moderately silly like RSS-based retrieval and automatic-wget to whatever your libraryd runs on [this goes to either the designers of actual ebook systems or the designers of things like smartphones/MIDs that live in a world where no decent ebook standard can ever exist and have to work ‘subversively’], or fuck it, use a Kindle, which is a really complicated equivalent to having a subscription at With wget. But also remote deletion. The worst of the best and the best of the worst of the world.

    – Search: Another value-add. Come up with a way to do it and make it not suck. If you’ve got 128 books on a card, throw in some subject-matter tags by default, let the user add some more, etc. Then, of course, also add search across the .bookmarks files. [Also, please stop trying to auto-index everything. We know you love hash tables, but grepping through 128 text files takes under a second and doesn’t constantly break/corrupt silently and stop updating itself/etc.]

    Hefty amounts of graphic design? Fine artwork/photography? Then you either need HTML5/PDF or real crushed-and-dried trees, yeah. Still, big high-DPI displays will soon be promising for that. Figure roll-out e-Ink on flexible plastic, probably, and hopefully someone figures out how to couple that with an expanding tensegrity sort of frame to keep it flat. Something of a specialty product, but also an opportunity for marketing synergy: buy Madonna’s “Sex 2.0” at Barnes & Noble, get the reader. Buy the reader at Best Buy, get “Sex 2.0”. All for $75. Or whatever.

    And while we’re at it, I’d like a large anthropomorphic meerkat with a mocha latte.

  73. Things book lovers have to put up with:

    1. Your partner institutes a one-in-one-out policy, because there’s no room for any more shelves, and the existing shelves are double-filled.

    2. People borrowing your books. And you have to let them, because that’s what books are for. To share. To impart knowledge or intrigue or entertain. Even though you know you may never see some again.

    3. Your children usurping your ownership. Well, as with #2, except more so.

    4. Back strain on any car journey. A trip to the supermarket? Your primary/elementary school child naturally needs every copy of the Beano, a couple of Young Bond books, and the Lord of the Rings. Because you never know how long you might be.

    5. Losing keys, money, important documents. You hide them behind some boring looking book when you go on holiday, confident that no burglar would ever think to look precisely there. Then you can’t remember which book it was, because somehow, your view on what looks interesting have subtly changed – probably through the act of concealment itself.

  74. Phil Simon 14 years ago

    I’m guessing that we’re the same age, give or take. I love being on the leading edge of technology but can’t imagine having, er, “technical” issues with my books.

    I suppose that I’ll probably cave one day and “go digital.” But, as an author, I can tell you that I don’t slave away on my books so I can create a pretty PDF.

  75. Dwain Bourdeau 14 years ago

    Hi, I’m buy an Amazon Kindle and I have been checking over some reviews. Should I get it?

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  77. Dawnie 14 years ago

    …I think you just presented me with a list for my future,prospective husband! The best! Seriously:)

  78. Kelly 14 years ago

    I agree with RAB, I do want to get a e-reader one day….but only for textbooks and probably newspaper reading. I can’t read more than a blog article on a screen without getting sick of looking at the screen.

  79. Debbi 13 years ago

    After reading your article, I’m not impressed. You are trying far too hard to show us how “real” you are, but you just come off as a geek and not in the good sense. I’m a reader. I was reading before I hit Grade one – never went to kindergarten – and I was and am voracious. I never gave up books for the Kindle because it’s filled with books, books that I have with me wherever I am, books that I read and delete or search and read and keep. See, I can’t imagine a world without books either and, luckily with the Kindle, I don’t have to!

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  81. I hate the idea of electronic books. As people have mentioned in previous posts, i love owning books, sharing them and having them on show on a great bookcase. Very, very sad about e-reader.

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