This Christmas break has been very welcome after a period of six months in which I was away from home, Monday to Friday, every week. I’ve not done much with it, beyond a few essential professional chores which come with the end of the year. Indeed no sooner was I home than I went down with a cold, as so often happens when one goes on holiday. That disposed of the period up to Christmas. This week I have mainly been pottering about. One can’t work all the time!
I’ve been slimming down my book collection and disposing of items that I don’t think that I really need to keep. Most of these have been fiction of one sort or another, and have been donated to a charity shop. I seem to be going through a phase of disposing of books. Somehow I feel that I have too many.
I also had a pile of books beside my desk for conversion into PDFs. I purchased for a dollar or two a second copy of certain Penguin classics that I wanted in searchable form. These have gone under the guillotine and through the sheet feeder, and are no more; but their PDF lives on.
At the moment I am converting an exceedingly cumbersome volume into PDF in the same way. It is so cumbersome in book form, indeed, that I gave away a complimentary copy some months ago; and then, infuriatingly, found that I needed to consult it. Replacing it cost $150. It goes greatly against my instincts to destroy a paper book. But it is useless in paper form, for I can locate nothing in it. So … it is passing through my sheet feeder as I write.
Six more books remain on the shelf beside my desk, awaiting similar treatment. Two were review volumes, that I shall probably never look at again. Another is an Italian textbook that I can’t even use unless I scan it. At the end another bookcase will be empty, and thankfully so.
Increasingly I find that fiction is something disposable that I read on my mobile phone in the evenings in hotels; while reference volumes are more useful, generally, in a searchable PDF form. What does that leave? It leaves volumes of sentimental value, in the main. It leaves reference volumes like Quasten which I find useful to have in paper form as well as in PDF. It leaves Christian paperbacks, and joke books, and books that I read on paper and have no reason to turn into electronic form.
All the same, it does mean that a diminishing amount of my books are physical books.
It is also interesting to see the effect that Amazon Kindle publishing has had on fiction. Much of this is electronic-only. It is, and it feels, disposable; pulp, really. There is no question of this stuff being treated like literature. The loss of the physical volume means that I find myself downgrading the book itself.
Of course the more we have in electronic form, the more we need backups!