Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Technology that saved a marriage...

Well, not quite saved my marriage, but did make discussions about our household much easier. I'm an academic. The better part of my life has been spent in classrooms, libraries and laboratories. And the people who inhabit the hallowed halls of the Ivory Tower are, well, lets just say for now that they are bibliophiles. Growing up, I dreamed that one day, I would have a house with a library, floor to ceiling books, rows and rows and shelves and shelves of books.

But, being an academic also means that you're a nomad, going from here to there, to this school, that post doc, and that coveted faculty position (of course, I bailed before then, but you get the idea). And in the course of years of study, I accumulated books. Guide books, travel books, text books, weird, tall and small books. About 40 boxes of books. And I don't just read for work, I read for fun! So then there are all the trade paperbacks, hardcover fiction I couldn't live without, more stacks and stacks covering a great many surfaces in our home. I would spend hours of my free time (that was before I had kids) browsing used bookstores, just browsing, picking up a classic I hadn't read here, or a cute gift book there. The buck a bag used books sales at the university, where I could pick up obscure 70's craft books, art books, history books... You get the idea.

And then we moved. My husband and I moved when we first got married, and many of my books were in my office, so it wasn't too bad. But then I jumped out of the tower, and towed all my precious books home with me. And we had to buy bookshelves, because a recovering academic has to be surrounded by her ridiculous library. And then we moved. And then we moved again, swearing each time, that we weren't going to move all those books again. But we did.

We were at a bit of a crossroads. My husband asking me, "What are you going to do with all these books?" My reply, "I can't get rid of them!!" spoken with an appropriate degree of horror in my voice. There were many discussions about which ones to keep, where to put them, building onto the house to house them (but of course we couldn't afford that, since I was no longer gainfully employed). My dreams of "doing something" with them.

Suddenly, there was this wonderful new piece of technology. Like a light shining in the darkness of my library (which was in the basement in boxes, because there wasn't room in the living space of the house), the device I never could have imagined would change my life. My Kindle.

Yes, I am an e-book addict. I talked my husband into one for a birthday present (back when they weren't as inexpensive as they are now). And you know what? I started getting rid of books. Text books sent to third world countries through a library program, paperbacks to Goodwill and friends to read. Over time, I would still browse bookstores but only buy a "real book" if it wasn't available for my Kindle. And then I started my genealogy business. Ah, the glories of Google Books (, Project Gutenberg (, and Library Archives (, all wonderful sources of FREE books, about all kinds of things; esoteric topics, history, geology, things I didn't even know that I wanted to know more about. And now, I can "buy" all the books I want, and my hubby will never know. The number of bookcases in our house is dwindling, though it will never be completely gone (some things just aren't the same in digital versions, or aren't currently available. Now, I can travel and have almost my entire library with me (in my purse, of course, which drives my mother nuts, an added bonus)! No more schlepping 4 paperbacks on vacation, because I like to read in airports! No more trying to make the volume of books "blend" with the house decor! No more arguments about the need for an addition just for the books!

Ah, my Kindle, my favorite technological friend. And maybe yours too!


  1. Hi Shellee!

    I just bought a Sony eReader today, and I am very excited about it! Two reasons: now I can finally read all those pdf books that I have collected over the years that are on my hard drive which I only have time to read when I'm AWAY from my computer.... and it was on close-out at Walmart!

    Welcome to the geneablogging community!

    Ruth Stephens
    Ruth's Genealogy

  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

  3. Welcome to the Geneabloggers community! I, too, love my kindle and it's made it so much kinder on my back, since my bags are lighter without all those books in there. If you're looking to digitize any of those books you're having trouble throwing out, Dick Eastman had an article on a great option for cheap bookscanning for $1 per 100 pages. Crazy stuff.

  4. I was glad to see your new blog! I have been e-reading for years when I bought a Rocket ebook reader. I moved to a Palm handheld and now I read on my nook or my iPad.

    Steve Robinson of the UK just offered his first book titled In the Blood. You can buy this genealogy murder mystery for your beloved Kindle!