Too many books and too few e-books

Over the years I have bought quite a few technical books which I generally read through once and then later use as a reference from time to time. In fact I’ve over 50 books by O’Reilly alone and varios other books from courses I have done.

In my office at home I’m running out of room. I’d really love to convert these books all to e-books, or to pdf format so I can print or use them from time to time as needed. Current e-book readers are not yet good enough but are getting better. They seem fine for reading novels but often do not have a good enough screen resolution to render things as clearly as the paper page.

I have been considering how to do this conversion and see various options:

  1. First option is simple: buy the equivalent ebook from the publisher. That’s way too expensive, and I’ve already paid for the book.
  2. Second option is cheaper: pirate a copy from the Internet. For many publications this is possible but I do not really agree with this. Besides it is illegal in most countries.
  3. Get some OCR software and scan the books, thus making my own e-book. As my main platform at home is Linux I have looked for software to do this but not found any. At least freeware or open source software. I’m sure that there is commercial software to do this, but it is likely to be pricey.  Also I have a feeling that scanning a single 300-page book is not going to be very interesting and to do my whole bookcase would take a lot of time, and likely have mistakes which I might not find until later.
  4. The really easy option is to throw the books away that I think I’m least likely to use. That’s easy but I’ve already found in the past that when I do this it’s always for the book which later I DO want to consult.

So I am still pondering over what to do. How to free up some space for books which I use infrequently but often do go back to and which alter I hope I will be able to happily use on an e-book reader.

Am I the only one in this situation, and if I’m not how do you solve the problem?

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Simon J Mudd

Born in England, I now live in Spain, but spent a few years living in the Netherlands. I previously worked in banking (financial markets) both in IT and as a broker, but IT has always had a stronger influence. Now working at as a Senior Database Administrator. Other interests include photography, and travel. Simon is married, with two children and lives in Madrid.

3 thoughts on “Too many books and too few e-books”

  1. One other option to consider is to donate your usable materials to a local library or other charity. Then, your old books may be able to help someone less fortunate. Additionally, you may choose to sell your books rather than tossing them. In either case, someone else can learn from your materials.

    Another option to consider is to stop paying for paper books and subscribe to a service like Safari so you regain digital rights to all your Oreilly books and much more for one monthly fee. Then, you could use Safari or another service like your own personal digital library.

    Good luck with your decision.


  2. In the end I’ve sent out an email to some friends to see if any of them are interested. Perhaps I can take anything left over to the local library.

  3. Option 5: Start using an online book service like Safari and never buy another book again (except maybe as a collector or for nostalgia’s sake).

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