Scribbler’s Saga #80 – Books, Shelves, Kindle

Posted: April 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

© 2019 G.N. Jacobs

I love books, even if my current relationship is all about aging and getting around to reading…eventually. IKEA smells me coming – “we’ve got the perfect bookshelf for you, Son.” Kindle smells me coming – “save space buy our tablet and the files to go with it.” Given that I only live in approximately 1,000 square feet of the California Dream, eventually Kindle has to win. And considering the mild verbal bitch slapping I recently took over my latest shelf I have a lot of books at the upper edge of the equilibrium zone between Need More Books and Don’t Have the Square Footage.

The person conducting said bitch slapping took one look at my place during the most recent remodel that finally put shelf space in the hall closet and made the kitchen something to look at and freaked. She later walked it back making me promise to employ “one thing in, two things out.” I said yes, and bought the last shelf anyway knowing what the special cases are for why I needed the bookshelf.

Writers need to read stuff. We steal from the classics and borrow from our contemporaries. And some of us not willing to trust the Make Money as a Writer come-ons littered all throughout our social media feeds supplement our income reviewing other writers’ works. So there will always be a few more than one in offset by two out as requested.

I suppose it’s a generational thing that unlike my other adoptions of cool technology (Apple Pen + Note app, for instance), I’ve had the hardest time fully weaning myself from books. An object that doesn’t care if you’re in bright sunlight (but don’t get it wet). And unless you get rooked buying something with the old-timey acidic paper, it will keep a long time until the weevils get hungry. Or Firefighter Montag gets frisky with the gasoline.

I’ve owned a Kindle going back to the first model. I had a few eBook files, but somehow when I tried to read I would always somehow find myself in the more relevant of local Barnes & Noble, library blow out store, a Mecca for books in Los Angeles like the Last Bookstore or Book Monster and even getting paper from Amazon. I couldn’t fully explain these oddities if I tried.

Perhaps a small part of my current aversion to Kindle comes from the size, about like a mass market paperback book. Certainly, the files I do have read better on my iPad Pro using the Kindle app, another justification for my purchase. Only iPad screens notoriously disappear in sunlight. Trade offs.

Another current issue is that my second smaller Kindle doesn’t really like my WiFi in my house or it’s just a slow kludgy paperweight. It pulls power off my outlet and very much mimics Star Trek plumbing, GNDN – “Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing.” I found it actually easier to download an eBook file from my iPad by clicking through from the iPad going around the mobile app than it is to click through from the Kindle.

Additionally, a small few things I read are not and likely never will be on the Kindle database. I’m slowly fighting my way through all of the cheesy tie-in novels for Babylon 5. It’s an old show with few reboot prospects where all the diehard fans (except me) already read the books a long time ago. Zero Kindle. And books that I would replace with eBooks, just weren’t on Kindle despite later books by the same author do have a presence. Go figure.

All of the above serves to have books that frankly overrun my shelves (see pictures). Some books have been laid across the top of the other books from the same author so I can sort of find them all later. That isn’t so bad, but then my books migrated to table tops and…the floor. Maybe, I had the bitch slap coming.

What are my solutions? Getting over myself despite the minor issues above and just learning to love my Kindle where previously it had been a cool object and latest toy is one. There are others.

Library. Just borrow your paper reading, damnit. Only, I check out the book to let it sit laughing at me until a few days before the last renewal and then I just buy the damn thing either in paper of Kindle. Library as a book advertising…Hmm! I’ll get back to you if this changes.

Omnibus editions. Getting the big books that group together all of the similar works can help some of the time. Getting a cleanly printed version of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare allows you to blast all of the mass market paperbacks for individual plays printed in larger Roman type to the library donation bin. Same for Lovecraft, one omnibus goes in, three trade paperbacks go out.

I do have to make exceptions to the new-ish regime of fewer books and shelves.

Roleplaying games. No one who plays brings PDF or eBook files to the table. They could, they don’t. I haven’t looked at Steve Jackson Games’ sales figures for GURPS to know one way or the other whether their bet to move about 85-percent of their source books to downloadable PDF files has paid off. It’s a lot of information you have to have even though most people only need to bring the Player’s Handbook or system equivalent to accomplish their rules lawyering (a hilarious feature of the game from jump).

Books written by friends. I have a lot of people that sell stuff that I buy knowing I will one day push a copy of Crimes Against Elves into their hands. No one has figured out how to autograph an eBook. Luckily, this trade in independently produced books represents such a small part of my problem.

Comic books, graphic novels and manga. While I might like reading eBooks from my iPad because of the larger reading space, I have yet to accept digital downloads of comic books and such, whether through Comixology and/or Kindle. Most Kindles come black & white only and sequential art can come in color. And I’m not sold, yet, on how Comixology moves around panels to make the online version fit. Luckily, I live near a comic book store that buys and trades for old books, so when the problem grows I do have an out.

Books I’m likely to lend after reading. As part of my shtick, I’ve collected a bunch of reference and how to write books. I might not like reading all of them (I’m looking at you Save the Cat), but someone coming after me does need to read them, even only to refute most of those words. I’d prefer just going, “here, borrow my copy,” than making them buy their copy…when I like the writer in question.

DVD and Blu-ray. Disks play better than some streaming options and the movies I want remain at my fingertips. And I’ve already paid the content owners once. But, I need shelf space. Judgment required here.

So here we are trying to maximize 1,000 square feet while not missing out on the constant need for new data. As a immediate solution, I did need a new shelf shoehorned against the one bit of wall where my house allows. Doing so did get the books off my floor and I’m able to see part of my dinner table again. We’ll see how much of the table I’ll get to see when I tackle the parallel situation with the handful of graphic novels laying about.

Hopefully, me taking this moment to bloviate about the clutter in my house caused because I want to read and watch everything wasn’t too boring. Anyway, there is daylight and the room looks larger… sort of. We do have solutions. Now this post is over. Go home!

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