This is an update of a post that originally appeared on February 17, 2011.
When I originally wrote this post 12 years ago, I thought I’d eventually go all digital. For me, there is still nothing better than sitting by my wood stove, coffee cup next to me, reading a favorite work of fiction. Of course, I’m talking about a hard cover or paperback book. Nothing quite matches the feel and smell of paper, especially when you’re reading a book for leisure. The hours I’ve spent reading books have been pleasurable to the extreme. I’m transported to worlds of mystery in some cases, worlds of the future in others. Fantasy, science fiction, techno-thriller; they all hold a certain thrill.
Actually, I have five reading stations in my house, one of which is on my tablet. Yes, I really do read some books now in digital format. Normally, these books are works of fiction that I read somewhere other than home, perhaps at a coffeeshop or restaurant. The easy chair and woodstove with their associated collection of paper books still call to me and I’m thinking now they always will.
It’s a different matter when I start working with technical material. I’ve whittled my collection of technical materials down to a few hundred essential books. Most of the material I read today is online in digital form and I read it at my computer desk so that I have tools like my Integrated Development Environment (IDE) available. In fact, I’d go so far as to say many of the materials I read are in article format, rather than book format now. Still, at this very moment, reading station 3, the dining room table, has a paperback technical book called Microservice Patterns on it. I’m finding it useful for brushing up on my Java as well as learning a few new techniques.
If I need historical information that I know appears in my paper tomes, finding what I need can be hard. Unfortunately, no book cataloging system in the world will solve my problem. I could catalog each of my hundreds of books and still not find the information I actually need with any speed. Of course, the ability search quickly is one of the benefits of digital format. If I had my books in electronic format, I might avoid the hours upon hours of search time for that one piece of information I actually need. Then again, I’ve accidentally found many pieces of useful subsidiary information during such searches, so it’s not possible to discount paper as unworthy. Still, speed is of the essence while I’m working on my next project.
For now, it appears that my future will rely on two media for books: paper for leisure and electronic for work related materials. It’s a sad thing for me to admit, but the paper book has become a bit too cumbersome for a world where search speed is prized above all.