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shut uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup


Some people make a living selling ebooks so go f-f-fuck yourself.

Book lovers need to know something about millenials: 

-we don’t have a lot of money

-we often don’t have a lot of space

-and we move a lot more frequently than other generations might have

and that doesn’t even account for more severe realities, like abused women who lose everything they own when they are kicked out of their homes, or how poor young urban millenials of color are likely to fall behind on rent and be evicted – and yes that means losing all your physical possessions often including books. 

The only books I still have right now are my ebooks. I swear to god every single time someone condemns me for “not caring” enough about “real” books I want to turn around and slap them upside the head. I HAD REAL BOOKS. IT WAS A LUXURY. THAT LUXURY WAS FORCIBLY TAKEN FROM ME. I CANNOT AFFORD THE SPACE AND TIME IT TAKES TO OWN PAPER COPY BOOKS ANYMORE. ALL I OWN ANYMORE IS DIGITAL INFORMATION BECAUSE PEOPLE KEEP TEARING MY PHYSICAL POSSESSIONS FROM ME. 

When you meet millenials! Who are scared of owning physical things! It is likely because they moving sublet to sublet regularly. I know most of you know someone like this if you are not literally someone like this. You sort of maybe are out of your parents home but maybe not, and when you are out of your home or if you aren’t lucky enough to have parents that will let you stay at home, you stay on couches or live in someone else’s room while they’re gone and every couple of months to years you have to pack all your shit and leave. The providence of the poor is being hopelessly itinerant. 

if you take the luxury of having physical books for granted and condemn ebooks you’re a classist and probably also a racist because mostly it’s old white people who write this stupid ass think pieces.

This guy couldn’t fit the ebooks I have in my pocket in a whole book case as physical books and I’M supposed to feel bad about that? 

I used to have a lot of physical books. Now I have… five?

My mother is the sort of person who goes into your bedroom with a trash bag and throws out your stuff. She calls this “going through clutter” because she finds her others’ possessions “oppressive.” While this was annoying while growing up, it meant that I have now little attachment to physical things and will choose lasting, transportable, virtual objects for preference when possible. Virtual media can’t be taken away from me. 

Also, my mother was a rather aggressive curator of my possessions anyway. While this meant that I now have “good taste,” she really hated to see me reading “trashy books.” She is now fond of Tamora Pierce, but initially, the lurid covers of the paperbacks meant that they were deemed “trashy,” and I had to smuggle in vast quantities of them before they gained a foothold in the home. Virtual media can be kept private, and is harder to discard or dismiss based on poor visual design.

We had a house full of books, but I considered very few of them mine, taking only a handful when I moved out. I had to move around a lot at first as I tried to pay rent and carve out my own space. I had to carve down my small, precious book collection into something I could carry by myself. I don’t have to leave virtual media behind every time my life changes. 

Then I moved in with a boy. The boy had many of the same books I did. Since he was more prosperous, many of his were nicer. He also didn’t have a lot of space, and I felt bad. I sat in my tiny studio apartment, packing up my books and crying to myself as I sorted them into the three familiar piles.


Give to charity.

Throw away.

Those books were so expensive. A fine new hardback book was $20. I loved Terry Pratchett so much that I would always buy them new. But that $20 could have been my food for a week. And now I was giving it to charity like it was nothing, this book I had gone hungry for, simply because my partner already had a copy. I had no money and I was surrounded by a collection of hundreds of dollars’ worth of useless, heavy, redundant books. Virtual media doesn’t make me cry this way.

Then the boy and I… well, we moved to England together, didn’t we? Now I didn’t even have a car to drive my books around in. I had two suitcases. I left my cat and my wedding dress and my clothes and almost every book. I took about seven books with me. Virtual media crosses oceans without weighing anything at all. 

Then we moved onto a boat. The book has bookshelves, but is nothing like our previous library. At this point I was able to pick up my seven books and say “Let’s go!” but my husband had to sell his books. At the car boot sale, people boggled. “Did you just sell your bookshop?” they asked. And Dr Glass was quite upset. Over twenty years of his lovingly curated bookshelves evaporated with almost nothing to show for it. Virtual media doesn’t sink boats … and suits small-space living.

So we’ve reached a compromise. The husband collects Folio Society books. They dominate our bookshelves. These are books for book lovers. You think book apologists love books? They don’t know shit about books. These Folio Society fuckers are gilded and illustrated and come in glowing slipcases. They’re what beast-kings put in their libraries to lure teenage girls into marriage. You read “The Golden Compass” or “Hitchhiker’s Guide” in Folio editions and you keep going “FUCK, LOOK AT THIS READING EXPERIENCE,” okay? These books upgrade you instantly into book snob, like “Fuck off with your trade paperback. Does it have exquisite watercolors of Lyra and Pan, Pullman’s own preface and hand-drawings, and a slipcase you could use to kill an armored bear? No? Fuck off with your little mashed tree products and have fun collecting silverfish. My grandchildren will fight over who gets to inherit this book.” 

So my husband has a nice little collection that he occasionally adds to, but the whole point is that these physical books are incredibly special, hold their value very well (he makes a reasonably profitable hobby of selling and trading within those circles), and are worthy of being weighty physical objects, bringing multiple levels of aesthetic pleasure and value to our home.

And I have my Kindle.

I have a shitload of books on my Kindle.

And if I were to drop my Kindle in the ocean right now, or if my life were to be consumed by flames, I wouldn’t lose my books again.

Physical media has its place in my heart and home.

But virtual media doesn’t break my heart.

Despite personally being a book lover, and by dint of that having a virtually empty pair of B&N Nook Simple Touches sat on the shelves; everything else you say is true, but there is one thing that you say with which I have an issue.

“Virtual media can’t be taken away from me”

Yes, yes it can. Well. Potentially.

If you’re buying from Amazon or from most of the big ebook stores, your books are not actually yours. They’re a licence to read. And you may think that makes no real difference, but it does. Back in 2009 Amazon deleted books (ironically, Orwell’s 1984) from their Kindles because of a licensing issue ( They could do this because whilst it’s shite customer service, it’s perfectly legal. It’s legal because all they ever sold was a licence to access the book, and in the millions of lines of teeny small print, it gave them the right to take that away again. They could do it because the Kindle is a device under the control of Amazon, and the ebooks on it are wrapped in ‘digital rights management’.

It is illegal, in most western countries, to remove the DRM in which Amazon and such encase their ebooks.

I have encountered stories of people who’ve lost their entire ebook collection (or iTunes collection) because the retailer from whom they’ve purchased their licenses says they’ve breached the licence conditions and revokes access. Whilst I may be forced to give up my book collection one day, it won’t be because the chain I bought them from went bust, and the licence is gone.

I don’t disagree that for some/many people ebooks suit their life better. However, I think that when you make that investment in your elibrary you should be firmly aware that what you’re really doing is renting them. 

I highly recommend reading Cory Doctrow’s Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free for a much more intelligent view of this than I can produce.

But at any rate, until DRM’s gone, I’ll keep lugging my paper books around, because I’m very fond of ownership not licenses from companies that may disappear.

Of course, you may only be buying books without DRM, in which case I’ll STFU and get back in my box.