Print vs. Electronic Media

I have eight bookshelves. 
Just typing that out makes my brow furrow—who needs /eight/ bookshelves, really? And I should be clear—eight bookshelves is not enough. These eight bookshelves are groaning under the weight of all the books I’ve collected over the years. These bookshelves are stuffed to the gills with more books stacked on top of them.
Gentlemen… Behold!
I’ve always been a bookhound from an early age—my father got me started reading a lot of high-quality sci-fi and fantasy, and we made monthly trips to Waldenbooks (back when they had a special card you could get). Things only escalated when I got out on my own and had a disposable income. I would estimate I’ve spent easily $50,000 on books in my lifetime, possibly as much as two or three times that amount.
It’s important to note that the current eight-bookshelf situation is actually an improvement… once I started working professionally in the game industry, it was my standard practice to get two copies of everything I worked on. At a minimum. Plus, working at Fantasy Flight Games provided me with easy access to tons of extra games at a low discount price, which meant… well. My eight bookshelves are what remains /after/ I’ve culled through my collection at least half a dozen times to get rid of stuff I just didn’t care about or didn’t play. This is after losing a big chunk of books and comics lost due to a really nasty eviction of my parent’s house (which is an entirely different story).
Once upon a time, I was one of those guys who swore that I’d never give up my books. That, no matter how useful pdfs and electronic media is,  no matter how good it looked or convenient it was to transport or reference… you’d have to pry my books from my cold, dead hands.

Keep in mind, these are just my RPGs… novels, DVD’s, and video games take up four more bookshelves…

Moving out to Texas, though, definitely made me reconsider my stance. Eight bookshelves is a lot, even for a bibliophile. It’s approaching Hoarders-level  of collecting “stuff.” So, nowadays, I am definitely looking more at pdfs and electronic media. I am very, very carefully considering what I collect and want to put on my shelf. In fact, recently a co-worker offered to sell me a large collection of Judge Dredd and 2000 AD graphic novels. I mean, these were in great shape, with all the classic stories and his price was dirt cheap. My inner nerd was saying “Hell yes! Take the books!” but I had to stop and shake my head. “Sorry,” I told my colleague. “I’d love to give them a good home… but I have eight bookshelves full of stuff already and I need to really be careful about what I choose to keep these days.”
Fortunately, my colleague is a really classy guy. He laughed, and nodded, and looked me in the eye. “Me too,” he said.
You have too many books already, citizen!

So what did I keep? 

I focused on games that I felt had some intrinsic value to me. That’s obviously a very subjective qualifier—the old FASA Renegade Legion boxed sets, for example, are something I feel have a very distinct and unique style that I’ve never quite seen captured before or since. So I kept them… despite having never played any of them (and if anyone wants to try out some of these games with me… /please/ contact me!).
I kept anything that had been signed by the author or developer. I kept any games that I remembered playing and enjoying, or /wanting/ to play (such as Exalted). I kept anything that I thought I might use for inspiration someday. And man, that is a long, long, long list.
It’s tough to look at my collection and wonder “what would I take with me if the house caught on fire?” Right now, it’s very likely I’d grab my phone, my ipad, and if possible, my desktop. And I think that says a lot about how I’ve come to view electronic media.

6 responses to “Print vs. Electronic Media

  1. I went ebook for everything except, as Tracy Hickman calls them, ‘treasures.’ The Books I want as my reward or keepsake.

  2. Wow Ross, I understand that you’re collection may be getting a little too large and any new additions need to be carefully considered..but…I’m still totally jealous

  3. I’m going more and more e-book. Just so much easier to have the collection on a iPad where I can quickly access it on a plane or game room.

    That said, I do like the “feel” of having a book in my hands….

  4. I so get this. Bryant and I got rid of about 40 copier-paper-sized boxes of books two moves ago, and another fifteen or so boxes in our last move. We’re down to two bookshelves for paperbacks, two for hardbacks, a double-sized one for games, and one for comics. We /try/ to confine most new purchases to ebooks & pdfs, but man. Sometimes you just have to buy the gorgeous rpg hardback. Selectively.

  5. And you a Amercians still have plenty of space…

    Over here in Europe space is comparativly way more expensive.

    I am also getting very selective, e.g. about which TT to keep and which to sell. When I want to buy something I always check whether there is still some space left at home. That helps. Working in this business is slightly counterproductive to this practice… 😉

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