No More Library of Alexandria

Scenes from My Library Circa 2002

I’m showing you this 17-year-old picture of my library because now it’s much worse. The center of the room has large piles of books and boxes full of more books. Was I trying to build my own Library of Alexandria? Apparently. I used to love going to bookstores and buying lots of books, supplemented by the books I bought from Amazon, eBay, and the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). I used to spend upwards of several hundred dollars a month picking up titles which I thought that, some day, I would sit down and read.

It’s not that I don’t read that much. According to my records, I still devour some 150 books a year. Look me up on Goodreads.Com, and you will find my reviews of all the books I read. It’s just that, now that I’m retired and on a fixed income, and now that bookstores have almost ceased to exist, I read more library books. And I also read many of the books I have downloaded on Kindle, which cost a whole lot less than new paperbacks.

So for the last year or so, I have been donating hundreds of books to libraries—most specifically the Mar Vista Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library—and in some case selling or trading books to the few booksellers still in the business. Each week, I donate an average of two boxes of books to the library. I will continue until my total book collection shrinks by some two to three thousand books.

That still leaves me with plenty of books. Being an insatiable bookworm, I will never lack for something to read.



In Search of the Deskable

My Adventures with E-Books

My Adventures with E-Books

About a third of the books I read are on one of my two Kindles—especially if I am traveling where a bag full of books would limit my range. Most of the time, the experience is pleasant, especially when the e-book I purchase is from a reputable publisher such as Penguin. Sometimes, however, you get an otherwise worthy book that is marred by the bane of e-publishing: namely, Optical Character Recognition, or OCR.

I have just finished reading C.S. Lewis’s superb autobiography, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. In between passages of great beauty, I would find sentences such as: “…but the real Deskable would have evaded one, the real Deske would have been left saying, ‘What is this to me?’”

Deskable? Deske?

The publisher of this e-book decided to forego human proofreading in favor of OCR software. Unfortunately, the software used rendered Desire as Deske and Desirable as Deskable.

At one point, I recognized the word “horkon” as the computer’s reading of “horizon.” The first person singular pronoun was frequently rendered by the decimal digit 1.

Fortunately, the work was good enough for me to persist to the end; but, many a time, usually when dealing with cheapster editions, I have given up in disgust.