When to book, when to e-book

I've done a modest job minimizing my book collection. I don't enjoy owning a lot of things but books were always one of my holdouts. A decade ago I switched mainly to an e-reader but kept all the paper books I owned and occasionally I'd buy more. I had so many my bookshelf was filled up and I had to stack them on top of each other and some were in other places around my home, something I didn’t mind because I thought it looked pretty charming, which it did, and made me seem cultured, which I am not.

But I decided that was too many things to own and not regularly use so recently I took the plunge and I went through my bookshelf and finally donated the majority of its contents, with some exceptions: a handful of first editions and a few well-worn books I'd consider my favorites that I'll definitely read again.

The biggest exception is my various art and design books with big, pretty pictures. I can't fully enjoy a book on Jackson Pollock with e-ink or an iPad. These are among my favorite objects I own. They're wonderful on their own but I've found they provide an additional purpose for me which is to recharge my creative batteries. They can be about anything. I have one on Art Deco lettering which is not something I generally give any kind of a shit about, but I know that sitting down with it and a cup of coffee will help clear the cobwebs from my brain and give me a boost of inspiration.

There is something about books that makes them so hard to part with and so uniquely worth accumulating. But moving forward, for novels and literature, I’m going to stick with e-books or, if I need to, the library for paper books. My current mindset is if it’s just text I’m consuming it makes no difference to me if it’s formatted on paper or digitally. A Farewell to Arms is just as boring no matter how I read it. But if I happen upon a book with big pictures of Japanese joinery I’ll still happily buy it and enjoy it and add it to my now much more spacious bookshelf.

In short: Pictures, I book. Text, I e-book.