Why I love ebooks (Or: The Pack Rat's Secret).

Monday, September 7, 2009
It's not that I don't like "dead tree" (paper) books. I do. I was one of those kids who was perfectly happy to be dropped off at a library and forgotten for a day. I would have loved to move into a library. I owned hundreds (and later thousands) of books. I love books.

Hear me? I. Love. Books.

As a writer, duh, I still love paper books. But where before I was always obsessed about being "in print," now the economics of the situation have hit home in more ways than one. We live in hurricane territory. We missed being hit by the brunt of Charley in 2004 by literally less than a couple of miles. As we stood in our house that afternoon and I stared at the ceiling and prayed the roof would hold, I thought holy crap, how the HELL will I clean up this mess if our roof goes? Especially considering at the time that my husband and I between us had well over 10,000 books.

No, that's not a typo.

I am a packrat. Not one of those kind where a whole TV show is devoted to them. But it's always been difficult for me to pare down. Especially books.

I love books. (I mentioned that before.)

I found it easier to let some go to places like Paperbackswap.com where I could exchange my books for...wait for it...more books. Okay, so that saved me money.

But as my fiction career has progressed, it was far easier for me to release that "I must be in print!" mentality. Especially when the payback was much better for ebook sales. I like reading, and it doesn't matter to me if it's on the computer or a handheld device or a "dead tree" book. It's the words, not the medium, that matters to me.

I've started buying ebooks whenever possible now. (Ironically, sometimes they're cheaper that way. Not always, but sometimes.) This means I can take dozens or hundreds of books with me on a car ride or appointment, and if I get bored with a book (or finish it) I can easily switch to another. I don't have to dust them. My shelves are no longer overflowing. (Well, okay, they STILL are overflowing with books I've already purchased, but I'm not adding to the chaos.) No dusting. (I hate dusting.)

This was a huge step for me, even though it might not seem like it. I will still buy "dead tree" fiction books on occasion, but only if they're not available in ebook format. If I can get them second hand through Paperbackswap.com, I'll try that first before resorting to buying new. Unless, of course, it's a book I really, really want by one of my favorite "must buy" authors, like James Lee Burke.

This has changed my buying habits. I'm less likely to impulse buy a "dead tree" book now. (Although it's super-easy to impulse buy an ebook! *LOL*) I am now steadily working my way through my TBR pile(s) and posting the non-keepers (most, unfortunately) on PBS as I go so I can clear them out.

As far as reference books go, those I still buy in paper. But regarding fiction, I am happy to admit I prefer ebooks. I don't ever have to get rid of a book now, and can satisfy my pack rat tendencies to my heart's content without giving up space or having to admit I'm a pack rat. In fact, outwardly, it looks like I'm slowly paring down my possessions (which, of course, I am).

As my house slowly gravitates toward being more orderly, I'm enjoying knowing that this is one of those few times in life where you can eat your cake AND still have it, too. *LOL*

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