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Electronic Alternatives to Physical Books


Digitizing books is a growing trend, allowing readers to preserve the stories and tomes that they love without all of the space demands that a collection of books requires. In some cases, these digitized books are created as exact duplicates of the physical volumes they replace; the companies that do the conversion make carefully constructed digital copies that recreate each page complete with markings, notes and all of the things that make those books special.

This isn’t the only way that you can take advantage of the electronic trend to downsize your physical book collection. There are a number of outlets where you can get digital copies of books, often at a reduced cost or even free. While they have yet to perfect an electronic version of that new-book smell, going with electronic alternatives to your physical books still has some definite advantages.

Why Are People Going Digital?

Though this may seem like blasphemy to the book lovers reading this blog, one of the reasons that many people give for digitizing their books is wanting to cut back on the number of physical books they have on their bookshelves. Some put the digitized books into storage, while others donate the books once they’ve gotten an electronic alternative. They may not even read the digital version of the book, but it brings comfort to know that it’s there in case they want to walk through memory lane with an old book friend.

In other cases, the switch to digital might develop as an alternative to buying new physical books. The old collection remains, but new purchases are made online and delivered instantly to a tablet or other e-reader. Libraries are even following this trend, allowing for the rental of digital book copies using specific apps so that patrons don’t have to bring the physical book back once they’ve finished. Books can be checked out and returned remotely, and once the due date hits the digital copy is automatically checked back in.

Finding Electronic Alternatives

A lot of books already exist in digital format, making your next book purchase as easy as browsing on your Kindle or visiting your preferred ebook store and making a few clicks. The prices tend to be reasonable, and it’s easy to place copies of books on your wish list for future purchases if you’re slowly downsizing your library. If the book is included in Project Gutenberg or some similar archival projects then you may even be able to get a digital copy of the book for free!

Depending on the book and when it was written, there may even be audiobook versions of the book available. This could make your books much more accessible, allowing you to listen to an old favorite being narrated while you’re in the car or going about your errands. Audiobooks are often more expensive than other digital versions of books, but there are still resources for you to find low-cost audiobooks of a variety of different titles.

Digitizing at Home

If you’re really interested in fully digitizing your books but can’t find existing ebooks and don’t want to spend the money to convert a large collection through commercial services, you might consider learning to digitize your own books on your own at home. While scanners, cameras and other methods can be used to create quick-and-almost-easy versions of books, there are open-source projects such as DIYBookScanner.org that contain community-designed plans to actually build your own digitization rig. While it may take time and money to build a rig, you’ll pick up an interesting new hobby in the process. Best of all, it will it give you complete control over how your books are treated during the digitization process. Who knows… once you finish with your collection, you may even be able to start digitizing for friends as well.

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