Hello, I'm Sig.  I develop cool things.

Moving from paperback to eBooks... Is this the future?

I’ve recently decided that I wanted to minify my life, much like one might minify javascript on a webpage (really bad example, but they both use the word minify which works out well).  I got the idea from the “100 things challenge”.

My parents consider me to be a minimalist already, but that’s part of what comes with living in a city.  People in cities tend to be more conscious about the space they live in because the dollar per square foot ratio is a bit higher than rural areas. The question I started to approach was how do I run a minify operation on my life, such that I can really understand what a functional person needs in order to be satisfied in the technology age.  My motiviations are purely economical.  It’s not that I’m looking to save money by selling or donating a ton of junk, rather I’m trying to see a business model that might be interesting to a recent college grad with his or her first apartment and job after leaving school.

I’ve noticed advertisements to rent a neighbors call for a few hours which directly competes with the City Car Share and Zip-Car services in the bay area.  Spotify launched in the U.S. and I’ve noticed facebook friends who I don’t view as nerdy/geeky to be using subscription-based streaming music services to get their music fix (e.g. Rhapdsody, Spotify, Rdio, etc.).  I also took a class in grad school in understanding technology and the services industry a good while back and have found the subject to be a bit fascinating.  I think the world is moving from product to services, and technology will be a major player in that movement.

What does this have to do with moving from paperback books to eBooks?

This is a step that I think the next generation won’t be making.  The future won’t have people moving from paperback to eBooks, they’ll already be using tablets to buy, rent or checkout books, magazines, and newspapers.  The concept of buying a physical book is going to foreign to many kids in the very near future.

I’m willing to bet that the government will take a look at public education in the near future and realize it’s cheaper to get kids new textbooks by giving them a tablet and sending them an eBook version rather than buying, shipping and re-using (outdated) textbooks year after year.  These kids will be looking at the economy in a vastly different way than the likes of anyone not having experienced this.  This group of individuals will look at the world wanting to understand what method is easiest to consume the content they’re looking to utilize.  Before this generation of kids, we decided we liked a particular magazine and bought a subscription which was delivered to our door every month.  This group of individuals may buy a service which allows them to look at the last 50 issues of any one of their favorite magazines and new ones as they come out on a digitial device.  That’s a good bit different from the way we do things now.

I am a massive fan of the subscription economy, which I plan to blog a whole lot about in the very near future, and think that’s the way our entire society will move towards.  It will be a massive shift in focus from a product / ownership-based economy in the short future.

As I started looking through my collection of books, I realized that some I’d read and kept on a bookshelf with no intention to read them again.  Others were textbooks from my undergrad or grad work that are very specific in nature and likely nothing I’d need that I wouldn’t be willing to buy again should I need a copy in the future (assuming a digital copy wouldn’t be available at that point in time).  A small set of books I realized I couldn’t part with.  These are books that an author had signed or had some special significance to myself.  The last set of books were mostly technical reference books that had an e-book version I could replace it with.

To help get the ball rolling, I shipped all the books to Amazon (including a few DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s I didn’t have a need to watch anymore).  The “Fullfillment by Amazon” feature is fantastic.  Ship your books to them, set a price, they notify you when something sells.  That way, the books are immediately removed from my life, and I get some money from month to month as they sell.  Granted, Amazon takes a bigger chunk out of the profits in this scenario than if you were to sell it yourself on Amazon or trade it in to a bookstore.  I found this to be the easiest method for me.

Step two was to order a kindle (I opted for a Kindle Fire, but think I may get an e-ink version as well).  When my Kindle Fire arrives, I’ll be purchasing replacements of a few books I know I’ll need (as many raw PDF copies as possible for backups and portability to other devices) and only buying new eBooks through early March 2012. 

I believe this will be enough time to evaluate what life is like when getting rid of most of my technical books and opting for electronic copies.  Part of this results in me getting rid of my bookcase/desk which became a storage haven for most all books, and cleaning out a few dust-balls collected behind those pieces of furniture.

I’ll let you know how it goes in a few weeks when my Kindle device arrives!