Updated on August 12, 2016
Minimalism has become an important part of my life. As a young (ish) couple, my wife & I live in private rented accommodation which is by definition insecure. We generally have a 12 month guaranteed lease, but after that time we can choose to leave. On the other hand, a land lord can issue notice to ask us to vacate. We have lived in rented accommodation for many years. As yet, we haven’t decided where we would like to settle down. We aren’t even sure which country we will be living in when it comes to buying a house, so right now we are happy to rent.
Renting can be quite expensive, but it also has benefits. If we want to move, we just give notice. No need to wait until a house sells before we move. It also means we are not responsible for the building & maintenance of major things like plumbing, heating and electrical work.
One major downside is the insecurity. We tend to move every 18 months & the last few moves haven’t been local. We have gone from living in Manchester to Scotland and now we live in Cornwall. Moving so often definitely makes you appreciate minimalism. The ability to pack up easily and move great distances is definitely helped by living a more minimal life. However there is always room for improvement.
One item I have struggled to downsize is my book collection. Unfortunately, this is also one of the worst things to hold onto when you move house a lot. The sheer weight & bulk of my book collection has hindered our recent moves & on the last move 12 months ago I decided to address the book collection.
My wife switched to reading on a Kindle e reader around 5 years ago. Since we moved to Cornwall & I nearly ruined my back carrying boxes of books I have been slowly moving over to an E reader too. At first I didn’t want to invest in any new kit so I resorted to the Amazon Kindle app on my old iPad. This worked OK for the past 12 months & has allowed me to start digitising my bulkiest books, but the iPad is less than ideal for reading. I find the backlight hurts my eyes after reading for a long period & the screen isn’t the best resolution for text. I also find the weight of the iPad to be an issue. If you read for extended periods it does get heavy.
Another major issue with reading on the iPad is glare. Trying to read on the go was proving very difficult in any outdoor conditions. I couldn’t see the screen in the garden or on the beach.
Last month I treated myself to a Kindle for my birthday. Other e readers are available & I’ve heard great things about the Kobo, but my wife has been using a kindle for years & we use Calibre to manage our ebook collections so I decided to stick with what I know. Also, as the all new Kindle had just been released, I got a brand new kindle of the previous generation at a discount for only £49.99.
It’s only when comparing the kindle to a section of my book collection you can really understand the significance of minimising & space saving with an ebook reader. I’ve taken a few pictures of my new kindle next to a stack of my books. This is only a small segment of my collection, but most of the books present are now also on my kindle. The kindle in the picture has 62 books on it. All in that small form factor. Truly portable.
I probably have around 400 hard back and text books. I’m in the process of re-reading, sorting & donating the books I no longer need. I’ve also been buying books in digital formats for the past 12 months. I only expect to keep a few of my most treasured physical books & can’t really envisage a need to buy any more physical books with the exception of a few text books with diagrams. I may just use a lending library for those.
The kindle really is a great device. I find it comfortable to read on for extended periods & the fact that I can carry a whole collection of books on such a small device means I can really read anywhere I choose. I used to carry two or three books with me in my backpack. I would read them at coffee shops or whenever I had a few minutes to spare. I’ve found that switching to an ebook reader has encouraged me to read even more than I did before.
There are certain ethical issues with ebook readers. Some people feel that they are an invasion of privacy, some people like to buy certain books using cash for privacy reasons & I can 100% agree with that. But for the majority of reading they are very well suited for modern life. There is also the issue of DRM and being able to pass them on/sell them but I find the portability outweighs those issues for me & there are plenty of DRM free outlets & resources available. Also, selling books isn’t really feasible now due to the weight & cost of postage. I’ve only ever sold two of my text books.
There is also the issue of vanity. I used to feel as though my book collection somehow validated my intelligence. It was a physical display of my education & my culture for everyone to witness when they came to visit. Let’s just say that was a misplaced vanity & I’d rather recommend books to friends than display them year round in the hope that they spot one when they visit. I think vanity & sentimentality play a big part in all of the collections we keep. It applies to all forms of media.
I’ve already digitised my music collection & my movie collection. I have posts on both of these subjects coming up soon. The book collection was the next logical step for me and due to the bulk/weight of books I’m glad I committed to switching. If you travel a lot or move house often, this could be a great way for you to lighten the load & free yourself up. It may also allow you to take a smaller house or apartment as you won’t need loads of space to store you books.
Have you switched over to an ebook reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.