Moving is one of the most traumatic times for us Book Pushers. We all develop massive book collections over the years. The 25¢ garage sale books, the library discards, the gift books, the special editions, the airport paperbacks you managed to get signed by the author, the ARCs, old school books, loaner books, all-time favorites that you re-read every year, that series you always meant to read because you heard amazing things about it….. it all adds up. How do you decide what to keep? What can you bear to part with? Can you sweet talk your way around barge weight limits when finally moving out of the icy wasteland that is rural Alaska back to civilization?!
I’ve moved 16 times in last 8 years. I’ve lived in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia. Those first moves? Those were absolute nightmarish hellscapes I never wish to repeat. Until – a miracle of technology!
I admit I was pretty skeptical when ebooks first came out (how dare you imply this newfangled gadgetry will replace my precious ones?), but then I discovered all those glorious advantages that come from the electronic format. Ergo, when I returned to civilization in March (aka not rural-Alaska), I was largely able to honor the weight restrictions on the barge.
Behold, The Book Purging System:
You may notice that ebooks are a key component of the book purging system. There is no crying in book purging! If you have an ebook and run-of-the-mill dead-tree version of the same book – you must eliminate the paper book from your collection. I am an attorney. I know about laws. I followed every one, and ended up in New Mexico in May with a significantly limited physical library.
Though I am a paper book lover through and through, I am also an Apple person. I have a Mactintosh Powerbook, an iPad, and an iPhone. I loved the gorgeous page-turning feature Apple encoded in iBooks. See? It curls the pages and even lets the text bleed through on the back as the page turns! I was so instantly enraptured with this feature that I exclusively used iBooks as my reading app from 2011 onward.
I did not, however, buy many books from the iTunes store. The ridiculous iTunes store only allowed you to read books on a mobile device – not your computer. The files were actually encrypted to be inoperable on the computer. Nope. Moving on. Downloading ebooks from other sources was preferable, even when they came with aggravating DRM or formatting issues. I was diligent. All ebooks in one library of my choosing. I refuse to have my books spread out across multiple apps and devices. When I buy an ebook, I’ll damn well read it on whatever device or app I please!
- DeDRM. This removes any digital restrictions placed on the ebook by the publisher. DRM is used to restrict format, region, and even the length of time you can have the book. I object strongly to DRM. Publishers claim it prevents piracy. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Anyone with enough tech savvy to illegally distribute and/or download an ebook knows how to google “remove DRM.” It is more likely a blatant attempt to force readers to remain loyal to a singular bookseller. (Nice try, but I am an internet savvy woman. I compare the prices between bookdepository.com and book depository.co.uk before buying. You’ll never tie me to a single bookseller!)
- ReFormat to epub. While using iBooks exclusively, I needed all book files to be in ePub format. Downloaded from Amazon? No problem! With Calibre I vanquish your puny .mobi and make it my own. Mwahahahahah!
Once I had my books in my preferred format, it was simple enough to add everything to my iBooks library. True, iBooks doesn’t offer the best sorting or organizational interface….but oh so pretty! I had my entire library on my laptop, iPad, and iPhone. Everything automatically backed up into iCloud. I was foolishly confident of the security of my ebook collection – there were four distinct copies of it in existence at any given time.
Then. Mavericks. For non-Mac users out there, Mavericks is the latest Apple Operating System. Think Vista. Except for Apple. One day I noticed a pop-up on my laptop informing me Mavericks was now a free upgrade. Hooray! I foolishly chose to accept the offer, and then – calamity struck. Mavericks was free because it was Apple’s attempt to enforce their fascist control over all things within their OS. Every single book, song, or movie I every downloaded form a non-iTunes source vanished.
At first I was calm. Because all these things were also in my iPad, and in the iCloud, and my precious books were even on my iPhone. Totally recoverable. WRONG. When I called tech support to report the issue – which they did not believe could happen – they “accidentally” scrubbed all non-iTunes books, movies, and songs from every single device, back-up, and server registered to my name. (Some illiterate drone in Cupertino admitted that he had never actually used any ereading software a day in his life, and didn’t understand ereaders I may have spontaneously developed the ability to breathe fire.) That completely wireless automatic home setup let me down this day. It let me down hard.
At that moment my entire ebook library was lost. Never to be recovered. (As an aside, this is why I haven’t been around much here or on Reading Reality.) MY BOOKS WERE RUTHLESSLY DESTROYED IN FRONT MY VERY EYES. I was forced to watch the electronic version of a book burning! I am still reeling from the trauma.
After I worked my way through the 5 stages of grief, I realized I could not rebuild without the appropriate foundation. No more trusting major corporate entities whose only goal is to profit off my misery with my precious library. I began obsessively researching all the major ereader apps out there. The best reviews with line by line comparison of features can be found here and here.
My thoughts were a little less in depth and far more fueled by residual rage and despair.
- Kindle – Amazon pulled Orwell from all their Kindles back in 2009. How delightfully Orwellian of them! No.
- Bluefire – Eh, tried it. Hated it. So ugly.
- Nook – Is Barnes & Noble even still open?
- iBooks – NEVER AGAIN YOU MONSTERS!
- Marvin – What do you mean I have to pay?
- Google – If Apple and Amazon are screwing us, what will Google subject me to? Best to never find out.
- Blio – Hmm. Blah. But acceptable.
- Kobo – Gross! No.
In the end I went with Marvin. It syncs up beautifully with both Calibre and Dropbox – thus preventing future “accidental” purges. As an added bonus, it allows me to edit metadate – even covers – within the app. How many times have you pulled up an ebook and been so horrified of the cover you wanted to erase it from existence? Well in Marvin you can! Marvin also allows detailed sorting by series, genre, and other groups that only make sense in my head. It’s been two month now, and as I rebuild (insert sounds of taps playing for my fallen comrades), I am largely pleased. The only fly in the ointment is the lack of page turning animation. Yes, I’m shallow. I admit it. Nonetheless, hope springs eternal.
How about you? Have you ever suffered the tragedy of an erased e-library? What is your preferred reading app and why?