One of the benefits of e-books is that they don’t take up any space. They reduce clutter and allow us to simplify our lives by reading more but not having what we read take up space. Though I doubt most of us go to the extreme of Joshua Fields Millburn.

Millburn was inspired by the passages in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club about the tyranny of material possessions to sell or give away his entire 2,000-book physical library (save for four reference books he uses in a class he teaches) and do his subsequent reading via Kindle. The few books he can’t get electronically yet, he checks out of the library or buys and keeps for only long enough to read.

Now, I no longer own piles of books, but I read more than before. I enjoy each book, taking them in slowly, absorbing the knowledge, processing the information, contemplating their lessons. But I needn’t retain the physical book to get value from its words.

Looking at my own mess of an apartment, I’m somewhat tempted to follow his lead. But even without going that far, I can still look at the hundreds of e-books in my Calibre library and reflect on just how much more space I have than I would if I had them physically.


  1. I have gotten rid of most of mine. Real estate is too expensive in my city. I just don’t have the space to store all the book I read, in paper. I have over 2000 ebooks and just four shelves for paper- two for cookbooks and fitness books, and two for professional books I teach with.

  2. I lov,e love, *love* my Kindle! Between it and my Calibre library I have expanded my book collection by several thousand. Since I’m a voracious reader who often has three books on the go, it’s fantastic to be able to simply flip between each one with the touch of a button. My handbag appreciates the lack of weight, too, I’m sure.

    BUT … how could I give up my beautiful books? The feel of them in the hand, the smell of the pages, the joy of simply browsing the shelves … not to mention my gorgeous collection of hardbacks, with their glowing dustjackets.

    Nope, I’m simply going to have to keep finding more ways to shelve my books – *and* buy more hard disk space for my e-books.

    It’s tough being a bibliophile … oh woe.

  3. I got rid of almost all of my books years ago, soon after I got my first Kindle. I have about a dozen novels left, and I still buy physical cookbooks. Everything else I sold or donated to the local library.

  4. I gave away over 5000 books on Craigslist several years ago. I got tired of paying moving companies to transport them. Plus, packing and unpacking them took so much effort. Haven’t looked back since.

  5. Before I bought my first Nook, I had several hundred physical books. Once I went digital, I got rid of half my collection. I only kept my favorite books (ones that I knew I’d re-read at some point), cook books, and art/coffee table books. Everything else I donated to the library.

  6. I remember, recently, looking around our local library and realizing I had more books on my iPhone than were housed in the whole building.

    In the palm of my hand, I hold a whole library. I never get used to this amazing luxury.

    As Marian says, it’s tough being a bibliophile. 😉

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