What are all these wooden ‘book’ shelves used for?

We are not far off from needing a new name for those wooden shelves in offices at work and home. There may be some classic books or ‘coffee table’ books that will need a home. But, the shelves are quickly becoming not needed for Instruction/Tech Manuals, Novels and even most Magazines.

Currently, there isn’t a perfect single electronic solution to carry and provide access to all of the needed reading materials. Most manuals are text only so they work nicely on the Kindle. It is easy to search for key words, move rapidly through pages and can even read (audio) most electronic ‘Kindle’ books to you. Black and white images are fine but color and even most gray scale images do not do well on the Kindle.

For color image ‘books’, I turn to PDFs and ePub electronic books, viewed through either my iPad’s iBooks or GoodReader apps. There can be some limitations for getting through the book quickly, but generally search is supported. Color diagrams and charts are usable in these formats.

Lastly is my magazine subscriptions. My wife has magazines she buys that she sells later while most of mine are for research or just for fun. Very few electronic magazines are less expensive than their print counterparts. For me, they are much easier to carry and read on-the-go in the electronic form. My iPad is with me everywhere at the office and most times around the house so I have several years worth of Wired, Photo Pro, Dwell, MacUser, Macworld and StuffUK. Great to have in hand when on my exercise bike every night.

The purpose of this article isn’t to convince you to sell your print books and go all electronic. Instead, it’s a statement that it works for me and my crystal ball says that there are types of books in your life that will actually be more usable if you had it as an ‘eBook’. They aren’t perfect for all books for all people, yet.

Electronic versions are easier to carry in bulk and most carry more ‘features’ than you can have on paper. Wired has multimedia built into their electronic versions (US version is very nice… not sure why the European version has lost their way with weird scrolling mini boxes). Providers like O’Reilly offer very large selections of manuals and instructional eBooks to get me through my work day. Searching a eBook is much easier than trying to remember what page I had read content on later. And the Kindle books play through my headphones as I put my PowerPoints together.