Booking Through Thursday — Storage and Electronic vs. Paper

Booking Through Thursday — Storage and Electronic vs. Paper

Edit: Doing this closer to properly. Booking Through Thursday asked the following question this week:


I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”
 (Thanks to Ivy for answering a BTT questions in her blog — enough of them got me thinking and writing that I decided to join.)
Reading further back on the main site, I realized that this answer also applies to another question:
Electronic vs Paper:

Tell us what you think. Do you have an ebook reader? Do you read ebooks on your computer? Do you hate the very thought? How do you feel about the fact that book publishing is changing and facing much the same existential dilemma as the music industry upon the creation of MP3s?


Here’s my answer:

Paper, to me, is like good animal fibres. Yes, it dry rots. Yes, moths like it. Yes, it needs a bit of care with storage. But it’s worth it.

My first Bible still smells of Mom’s cedar chest. For years, I thought that was how all "real" Bibles smelled. The first story I told as a storyteller, Kipplings "The Tale of Old Man Kangaroo", came from a blue volume printed in 1902; handwritten in the front are, in fountain pen: To Muriel, from Uncle Jack. And, in ballpoint, in a more aged hand: "To Sandy, from Grandma."

My shorthand books have prices and handwritten notes — "for Tues" and "Philadelphia". They remind me of the history of the science. My 1986 edition of McCabe, Smith and Harriot is the same size and binding as Grandpa’s 1930 edition. My copy of Perry’s on the shelf at work proudly proclaimed my background, as much as my Girl Guide calendar.

I spent hours in Grandma’s basement with Mom’s old books. If they were smaller, I’d have brought them home when I found them, rather than spread the joy (and avoidance of boredom) over years.

I can toss a book on my son’s bed, without needing to borrow his reader or worry that a tiny card will be lost. I can look on the coffee table and see which Ready Set Grow book he picked out, or whether we need to make him start something new. We can carry on the tradition of moving bookmarks. My daughter has small and practical knitting projects. (Thanks to Jane for the idea!) My grade eight English teacher told me Rilla of Ingleside (which took me 3 years to find) was unsuitable to my ability; words on a screen wouldn’t get the same reaction as the 1898 onion skin paper of my next book (Lorna Doone) did!

Finding Rilla, getting A Family Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a gift. If I had simply searched Amazon and gotten everything the author had ever written the first time I loved them, I might never have rediscovered them.

The look and feel of the pencil as I underline or write notes just isn’t the same as typing them.

We can still read cave drawings. We have trouble reading disks from 20 years ago. Remember 5-1/4’s?

On the other hand, now that I’m free of the Palm, I miss having a book (or even one per mood) with me all the time. There was always one in my schoolbag, but I don’t need one often enough to justify a larger and more awkward purse. It was great when treating myself to a surprise lunch out. When Mom got a Palm, I went to Guttenberg and made a card of all the classics she "made" me read as a kid. I put that book Grandma gave me from 1902 on my own as well, and read it to the kids at the cottage. Somehow, though, Lorna Doone, which was the first book I re-read after graduation, just didn’t appeal to me three years ago on the Palm.

An entire encyclopedia can be delivered without a moving van, and more than one kid at a time can read the same article. Schools won’t have to pay for storage or replacements. Kids’ backs may survive the school years better.

As to Ivy’s other question, where my family puts the dead trees?

Library books are in the library bag, except for the book being read. Iron clad rule.

The kids’ shelf is by size. My great-aunt the librarian is probably rolling in her grave — or maybe not. They stay neat. Series end up grouped. Books in the kids’ rooms are lucky to be on shelves, so they’re sorted by last time and place of use.

Books I have yet to read are together on one shelf.

Reference books I’m likely to use are on another shelf, with some exceptions. Computer books and dictionaries are by my computer. Kids’ dictionary is by their desk.

Recent purchases are on shelves upstairs, then move to a pile on the boxes in the basement. Most are still in boxes from the move, first sorted by genra (mystery, SF, non-fiction and ther), then author. Two are "Boy, age 10-15, from Mom."

You can tell a lot about our family by where the books are. Bits and bytes just aren’t the same.


2 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday — Storage and Electronic vs. Paper

  1. Booking Through Thursdays

    Booking Through Thursdays is a blog meme about reading. If you want to join in on the fun, go to every Thursday for the week’s question.

    Right now, I have over 400 books, 10 magazines, and one newspaper in my purse. No books in boxes for me. I might add another in a few minutes, but I won’t bother taking the Kindle out just yet, only let the book fly to it over the air. I can start reading it over lunch.

    True, we can still read cave drawings, but I dare you to find an intact copy of Filth of the Fathers, which was written on paper, not carved into stone. Or Beowulf. Or, for a more modern book, how about Principles of Knitting? E-books never need to go out of print, and never need to cost $200 plus because the remaining copies are so rare.

    Your last point is a feature I like about the Kindle–no one knows what I’m reading. I am tired of people on the bus to asking, “Why are you reading about Latin? It’s dead, Jim.” (Gee, and here I thought I might run into a group of Roman Centurions one day) or “Don’t you know Mein Kampf is anti-Semitic?” (Really? The author seemed so vague on the issue.) or “Aren’t you too old/young to read that?” I took to wrapping books in cloth book covers for sake of privacy and only had trouble when the book didn’t fit any of the covers. Now I have the Kindle, and that problem is solved.

    1. Re: Booking Through Thursdays

      Thanks! If you’re who I think you are, enough of your BTT entries have inspired me to write that it’s worth me joining in. I’ll leave this entry pretty much as is — just change the intro a bit — and shift to the standard method next time.

      Ah, but if we could find a paper copy of Filth of the Fathers (that’s one I’d hide the cover of), all we need to read it is a good light. Although, I’ll admit that technology is getting better with standardized, long-lived formats.

      I like your point about privacy: It has its place. On the other hand, I’ve had some great discussions about the books I read, starting with: “If you like that, try this one,” and “Why?” Yes, some people pass judgement and try to close my mind, but others use it as an opportunity to open their minds or my own even further.

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