Hoarding — I mean — Preserving your ebook library

I have a love/hate relationship with ebooks. My husband reads them almost exclusively on his iPhone. He loves it because it frees him to use pockets of the day to read that were just lost time before.

I’m less enthralled. I find it hard to read on an iPhone. The screen is too bright. The words per thumb click ratio is too small, which I find very distracting. I like reading on larger form eReaders better, and now that I have upgraded to the Kindle Paperwhite, the one advantage of the iPhone (its bright screen meant I could read it in bed) is gone.

But while the Paperwhite’s larger screen makes for a less distracting reading experience, there’s something about the feel and smell of paper. I simply can’t do without it for too many weeks at a time.

Not to mention the fact that my digital horde of ebooks isn’t nearly as satisfying to browse through as a room full of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves crammed with little paper friends. Having my Paperwhite lying on the desk next to me while I write simply can’t match the visual inspiration and motivation to keep typing just one of those bookshelves provides.

Having worked in the telecommunications industry for so many years, I’m also extremely dubious that my ebook library can be preserved through the ages. Something will inevitably come up to make my digital horde inaccessible, whether it’s a change in the digital rights management software that makes older eTexts unreadable, the manufacturer deciding to phase out production of my eReader of choice (Barnes and Noble eliminated a huge chunk of its Nook hardware engineering group recently – not a good sign for Nook users), my choice to travel to a country where my Google Books can’t follow, my eBookstore going out of business, or worse, deciding I’m a terrible person and deleting all of my ebooks (yes, this apparently happened to someone on Amazon).

Which is why, whenever I read a book on my Kindle that I know I’d like to read again or lend out to someone I always buy a back up paper copy of it for my bookshelves.

There is another option, though, for those of you who like to keep your cubby holes clutter free (or who want to retain access to ALL of the ebooks you have bought, not just the ones you like the best): Back up your digital libraries using whatever combination of cloud storage, portable media (SD cards), or external hard drives works for you.

If you are one of the unfortunates who must transfer your digital library from one eReading platform to another (or if you want to protect yourself against your manufacturer stopping production of your particular eReader), you may want to investigate using a program like Calibre to preserve your access to your existing ebook library over the long term.

Want to outsource the worry about losing your ePub library completely? Stop buying ebooks and start checking them out from your local library.

Happy reading!

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