A Library, but not a book in sight

I have (almost) no books in my house. That doesn’t sound right, I hear you say, especially for someone proclaiming to be a writer. But I had to say it because it’s mostly true. Don’t go away, there is a happy ending. OK, if you can’t wait, I have a lot of e-books. Anyway, for the less impatient… There are actually some books in our house but I have for most of my adult life led a rather transient existence. The consequence of which is that with all the packing and moving and lugging from town to town, I’ve often been obliged to lighten my load. Many a friend has benefited, along with various local libraries – those people really love free books.

Trinity College Library, Modern Cave Dweller, Harry Tuttle

For those of you that are concerned, you’re so sweet, I really do have quite an extensive e-library. Library is perhaps somewhat of an exaggeration. Until recently these were scattered over myriad devices and in more formats than I thought existed. So what do I do? I seem to have settled down over the last few years and might even let myself imagine that I won’t move again for a while, so do I start building up a paper library again? To be honest, I’m not sure that it won’t go all pear shaped and I find I have to move again. Also, for some time now I have been moving towards a paperless existence – partly enforced by the aforementioned inability to stay in one place. That and my apartment is only so big.

Recently – longer than I care to admit – I have been trying to gather all of this together and get it all organised, you know, like a proper library. No, I’m not finished! To achieve this noble goal, I have chosen to use Calibre. I tried it years ago, but as I said nothing was particularly organised, so I just left it in a corner as another unfinished project. Yes, I regret that. Why? because now I have thousands of books to go through. Some of them are easy. Some need reformatting – I’d like as much as I can in epub. Do I have a good reason for that? No, not really. Most importantly, in terms of time, is that the tags for these books are nightmare. And by nightmare, I mean something really scary, not something written by a teenager that’s afraid of the dark.

Let me give you an example of the tag-madness. What in the world of tags does “FIC028000” mean? Don’t answer that. Another favourite is “book”. It worries me what sort of person thought that this was a helpful identifier. Why are the tags a mess? My collection has accumulated over some time: some of it is free; some of it is from Project Gutenberg; some of it is from friends and I probably should have paid but I haven’t yet worked out how I feel about buying the same book multiple times, and of course there are those that I’ve just bought over the years – because that’s the right thing to do. Even after all that, when you find sensible, credible tags, there is a question of taste, or education and I don’t always agree with how a book has been labelled. Did I mention that I can be a little OCD, which is both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Occasionally Considered Dangerous.

In any case, I am enjoying having all of my books in one place – two if you count the backup. However there are a couple of thing that I do miss about having “real” books around. Books smell wonderful! There is something special about that and I’m not talking about the hallucinogens caused by the little bugs eating them – they’re not that old. Hallucinogenic books are a real thing.  The other thing I miss, is browsing the book shelf and the covers. It’s a stupid thing, and of course we never judge books by their covers, although I saw someone remark recently that a good cover can make you a lots of sales…

Anyway, this has been my choice, my compromise. I have given up the smell and the pretty covers for a virtual library. My take home advice then, for the young and old alike – Start to organise your e-library today. Even if you are lucky enough to have a real one. And please please please, for your own sanity in later life, tag everything.


About Harry Tuttle

Harry Tuttle, part enigma, part machine, mostly confused and trapped in modern life. I think. I read. I write. Science Facts to Science Fiction and Beyond.
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  1. Pingback: Every Day I Write The BookS | Harry Tuttle | MCD

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