Approaching your book collection.

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Oct 28, 2010, 11:33:28 PM10/28/10
to the technomads
Hey guys,

Spotted this site via hn a while back, and love that there's a
community for this. I'm currently trying to get rid of things, but
have been stuck at getting rid of books.

Anyone else in a similar conundrum?

Books are one of those things that are very valuable to me, because
I've always found them the best resource for me to grow. While I've
started to buy mostly ebooks instead now, there are plenty of books
that I have that simply aren't and likely never will be in electronic
edition - and I've grown to hate carrying my books every time I move.

So far it seems the best thing to do is to:

a) get rid of the books, that's what libraries are for! - while I like
this option may work for some folks, there's many books that don't
quite fit this mold. Even if I donated my books to the library,
there's no guarantee they'd even keep them.
b) do the diy book scanner thing - it requires me to, well, buy stuff.
but I could hopefully sell the book scanner setup later.
c) Not sure what else. Is there an easier solution I'm missing?


Paul Graham says the following in his stuff essay (http://
"I've now stopped accumulating stuff. Except books—but books are
different. Books are more like a fluid than individual objects. It's
not especially inconvenient to own several thousand books, whereas if
you owned several thousand random possessions you'd be a local
celebrity. But except for books, I now actively avoid stuff"

I agree with PG on the value of books, but as a technomad (or just a
young punk wanting to move every year) I feel their physical presence
is fairly inconvenient. This is why I figure so many college kids sell
their textbooks.

Chris Burke

Oct 28, 2010, 11:56:41 PM10/28/10
All of the libraries I asked in the area of Los Angels that I live all handle donations of books the same way. They are put out for the "Friends of the Library" sales, which in turn enable them to buy more books. Obviously there may be exceptions to the rule as most of the stuff donated to the library is probably not high on the circulation want list but that is what happens to most of them.

For me I just donate/sell them anyway that I can.


David A. Desrosiers

Oct 30, 2010, 4:04:39 PM10/30/10
On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 11:33 PM, seltzered <> wrote:
> Spotted this site via hn a while back, and love that there's a
> community for this. I'm currently trying to get rid of things, but
> have been stuck at getting rid of books.

Two words: Amazon Marketplace.

I've successfully used them in past years to unload a LOT of my old
books (boxes and boxes), with great results and even greater profits.

Alternately you could donate them to a local school library or your
local Freecycle group, and let them disseminate them to other places.

Good luck!

Nick Reese

Dec 4, 2010, 12:25:59 PM12/4/10
to the technomads
The Kindle. Get a digital copy of your book.

I'm not typically a huge fan of torrent sites, but since I've already
purchased the book I figure no harm in downloading a digital copy.

I have gone through and found 80% of my library in digital form
(around 50 books) and now have them on my kindle and in dropbox.

Most of the books where in Epub format so I had to change them
into .mobi with "calibre."

Overall the process took about 3 hours, but I can now get rid of my
books with peace of mind.

Vivek Gani

Dec 4, 2010, 4:35:15 PM12/4/10
Thanks for the advice all! Heh, figured I'd follow up on this. While I think 90% of my book purchases have been in ebook format, I still had too many issues trying to find ebooks for some of the older books on my bookshelf.  

What to do if you're attached to books that you can't find? Digitize em! There's a few options depending on your situation and needs:

1) Destructive scanning - chop the book bindings, then feed it through an office scanner or a scansnap. This method is fast, but you won't have your books afterwards.

2) Buy a plustek optibook scanner - it's a scanner where the scan area goes to the edge. This method is slowest, but requires minimal time trying to build/tinker with anything. My fear over it was that the scanners have had mixed reviews over the backlight lasting for very long. 

3) Build your own book scanner, check out . There's a wealth of ideas on there on how to build one. Check the forum for more details, i'm keeping a build thread on there. My goal is to build one that can be portable enough to pack away and give to friends when I'm done (google nalfonso for his portable book scanner - I'm doing something similar)
This method takes more time and money, but potentially makes for a faster scanner than option 2, and can be scaled to work with larger format books.

NOTE: During this process, I'm also investing in a better backup solution, which I highly recommend as I don't want to re-scan these books ever again.


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Dec 4, 2010, 4:51:22 PM12/4/10
What would you say is your better backup solution?
Jesse Bikman

Andrew Furman

Dec 4, 2010, 12:33:45 PM12/4/10
I threw out all of the books I owned about 2 months ago to reduce the amount of clutter in my room and haven't had any regrets.  Most of my books were programming books some of which I had never read, but what I found was that all of the information in those books can be found free on the internet.

My suggestion: take the plunge and throw out your books, you'll have no regrets.

Andrew Furman
Carnegie Mellon University, Class of 2012
B.S. Information Systems

Vivek Gani

Dec 4, 2010, 8:45:05 PM12/4/10
Most of the books I'm attached to aren't programming books, and the programming books I do own are already purchased in electronic only editions. The books I'm scanning are older textbooks that aren't in digital editions yet, or are out-of-print books or locally-written books I like. Think music, do you throw away all your music? Even the hard-to-find stuff that isn't on rhapsody? 

By better backup solution I meant having some form of an offsite backup, whether it's a cloud service (e.g. mozy, backblaze, etc.), or leaving a freeNAS running at a friend's house. 

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