How EBooks Save Me from My Own Decluttering

bookbox I know that for the readers that just love holding the actual paper book in their hands, it is going to take a lot to convince them to change to eBooks. But this week, a recurring dilemma of mine brought home one reason I love them.

An AAR reader mentioned wanting to read an out of print book, but the least expensive copy available is selling for $40.00. As I read the message board post, I realized that I had read the book. Of course that sent me on a hunt for it. Then I realized that, in one of my decluttering modes, I had taken it to the used bookstore. I will probably check with the store tomorrow to see if it’s there for me to buy back. And I have a history of this.

At least seventy five percent of the books I have on my keeper shelf I have purchased at least twice. Typically I buy the book new, then turn it into the used book store, and then purchase it again. I tend to either fall in love with a book and re-read it over and over until I get tired of it, or read it and not think it is a keeper. Of course years later, someone mentions that same book in a way that sparks my curiosity and I just have to re-read it, so there I am buying it again, if I can find it. I have spent years looking for a certain book again.

If I recall correctly, I purchased Nora Roberts’ series books three times. I did the same thing with some Georgette Heyer books. A few years ago, I purchased hardbacks of a certain author, sold the books to our local bookstore, and then ended up buying my books back a year later.

While I am sure I will delete some eBooks, simply taking the book off my device fills the need to eliminate the clutter, but with my Kindle the book stays on my account. So if in two years, I decide I want to read the book again, I won’t have to go hunting for it or even buy it again. And hopefully in the future, I can loan it out to a friend. In the meantime, please tell me I am not the only person that I has bought multiple copies of the same books over and over.

– Leigh Davis

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36 Responses to How EBooks Save Me from My Own Decluttering

  1. PatF says:

    You are not alone! But I still haven’t convinced myself I need to make the switch to ebooks.

  2. LeeAnn says:

    Gosh I thought I was the only one sending a book for recycling and then realizing a year (or two or three) later that I wanted to reread it because it was a favorite sent by accident, or there was another in the series, or I remembered a line in the book that stood out, or or or…. Now I don’t feel so alone!

  3. RobinB says:

    NOOK has the same feature as the Kindle (it’s called “archive”) for storing an item once you’ve finished reading. A number of e-books that I’ve read (the historicals by Susanna Fraser, “Sing My Name” by Ellen O’Connell) are “keepers” but I’ve archived them so if I want to read them again I can.

    And yes, I’ve bought the same book twice–mainly because the first copy was falling apart from constant re-reading! :)

  4. Terry says:

    No you are not by yourself. I have bought a few back, but not lately. Don’t have time to re-read like I used to.

  5. AAR Sandy says:

    I’ve always had a keeper bin — that is more like four keeper bins. Every once in a while, I purge it. And I have purged a few books that I REALLY wish I hadn’t. So, no, you are not alone. I’ve bought books again — sometimes at highly inflated prices. I’ve loved having some of my favorites republished as eBooks

  6. xina says:

    Yes…a thousand times yes! I spent quite a bit of $$ on one title because I just couldn’t find it in my house. I was obsessed with finding this book and when I couldn’t, I bought it for much more than I originally paid for the 1st one. Naturally, it turned up months later. oh well…. I also repurchased a Jane Grave series that I loved, but had donated to the library. I love that so many authors are getting their backlists published digitally….for instance Marsha Canham’s books. I still have the paper copies and will eventually give them up…I think. :) My reading ebooks has given me more closet room, but I still have work to do in that area. Slowly, but surely.

  7. Lynda X says:

    Rebuying books you already have? Yep. That’s why I have kept, for the past few years, a list of author, title, place (Kindle, library, sold, bought, etc) I got the book, plus a grade and brief review. It has saved me a lot of money!

  8. Claudia says:

    That is so funny! I am the same. I would read the books and then send them away since I was living in very reduced quarters. Eventually I realized I kept buying books I had read before! jjj so I finally started my keepers collection (favourite authors and favourite books).
    I have an electronic reader and many ebooks but sometimes I like to feel a real book in my hands. I definitely agree with you on the clutter factor and I am also glad I’m not the only crazy buying, and rebuying the same books ;)>

  9. Lynn M says:

    My problem isn’t rebuying books on purpose, it’s buying books I already own because I didn’t remember that I already had it. I come home with a bag full of books, ready to log them into my Library Thing inventory, only to discover that I already own some of them. Isn’t that pathetic? I’ve earned more Paperback Swap credits by sending duplicates to people.

    While e-books solve some of this problem (I can take my e-book with me and check my title index), what helps me more with this problem is using a book inventory app on my iPod and checking that before I purchase anything.

  10. Caitie Quinn says:

    LOL This is me!!!!

    I actually bought a paper book this summer. Read it. Loved it, but thought “maybe it’s not a keeper-keeper” and since I’m out of book room *blush* anywhere, I sold it to the used book store.

    Last night I bought it back…in e-form. Just one more way I’ll be buy and then decluttering myself!

  11. Victoria S says:

    Leigh, as you see you are not alone. I too have bought a book from my UBS only to discover that I was probably the one who had sold it to them in the first place!

    My Kindle does hold them in archives, so I won’t be re-buying a book that years from now I want to read again (not having remembered I read it at all). And yes, I still like holding and the touching of a paper book more than my Kindle, but I love my Kindle for convenience, instant gratification, and the ability to store books. Catie Quinn, I too am almost out of room, and am trying to figure out how to get more shelves into my house rather than do another purge :-)

  12. Karenmc says:

    I’ve bought a second copy of something at the local UBS more than once. Now I buy more and more ebooks (and if I look at a Kindle book on Amazon, it tells me at the top of the page that I already bought it). To keep from making a multiple-copy fool of myself, I have a database (Bookpedia and it’s little cousin, Pocketpedia). If I’m not sure about a book, I open Pocketpedia on my iPod Touch and check the list. In fact, just a few days ago at the UBS I had a book in hand, checked the list and replaced the book on the shelf. Good times and free shelf space.

  13. Nikki H says:

    My most infamous repurchase was a book entitled “How to De-Clutter Your House” or some such garbage, only to discover I already had it.

    • Lynn S says:

      Nikki H: My most infamous repurchase was a book entitled “How to De-Clutter Your House” or some such garbage, only to discover I already had it.

      ^^ Done this.

      Ebook readers are great for people with small houses, like myself. I really do prefer actual books, but when I only have so much space, something has to give. That, and I felt bad not using the brand-new kindle my brother bought me for Christmas. ;) Good post.

  14. Darlene says: and my Nook has saved my life and a ton of money.

    I no longer buy books I already own, cuz I check my goodreads already ‘read’ list first. And my DIK’s (desert island keepers) are always with me when I travel via my Nook.

    Some of my DIK’s I have gone back and bought as e-versions in addition to my printed versions.

    I do buy a few printed books now and then since I travel for work & those pesky airlines ask that you turn off electronics for takeoff/landing. Other than those, it’s e-books all the way

  15. willaful says:

    No wonder your UBS keeps buying your books! ;-) But yes, I have done this too, also with library donations. I now mark every book before giving it to the library, because I’ve bought back my donations so many times.

    Ebooks are awesome. I bought 17 Heyer books today, all of which I own in tattered, yellowing, revolting paper. Now I can read them in crisp BIG letters. My poor sad aging eyes are so happy. And I might even be able to force myself to get rid of some of the hard copies and free up some space. :-)

  16. renee says:

    This is a great post! Leigh, I am delighted to know I am not alone. LOL
    However, my re-buying habit is now complicated by the fact that I am now listening to audiobooks and feel compelled to have several of my existing (paper or ebook) DIKs in audio format as well. I am truly pathetic :) but my local used book store loves me!!

  17. SON says:

    I went through a period of reading ebooks almost exclusively. But now I don’t like them. You can’t flip back and forth between the pages – you can’t think, “Oh, I want to find this particular scene” and then flip to it unless you’ve added bookmarks for EVERYTHING. Even then you have to go to the bookmark menu and search through that. Having so many books on you device means that unless you’re very disciplined you’re spending so much time flipping back and forth between different books, and DNFing heaps of things.

    Why do people need to be ‘convinced’ to read ebooks? Why can’t we read normal paper books? I enjoy having books in the house, and seeing the covers. There’s no romance to a little skinny electrical device in the corner! I don’t see having books on display as a crime.

    If the publishers don’t start releasing ebooks for non-Americans to buy, then most people are never going to be able to read most books in electronic format.

  18. Anne W says:

    Looks like you are in good company, Leigh! I admit that I must join the lot as well. I try very hard to check my Goodreads list, my personal PC list, and I have a little black book I carry with me to the UBS on each visit. Still yet I’ve repurchased many books.

    I’m finally getting friendlier with my Kindle and am already filling its “Archives.” I like having it mostly because I find that I’m trying more and more new authors and finding real “steals.” Some of these authors only publish in ebook form. One of my favorite authors has e-published a romantic suspense series that isn’t available in paperback.

    My biggest problem is deciding what I’m going to do with the mounting boxes of books in my garage! I’ve taken tons to the hospital library, Goodwill, and UBS but I still can’t make myself turn loose of box upon box. My shelves runneth over — but I’m still in a holding pattern.

  19. Susan says:

    I have had an out of control paperback habit for 30 years now, so my decluttering got really, really ruthless. I would regularly get rid of boxes of books (it’s that or they’ll fall on my head).

    Now I can keep them all! I can even carry a very good portion of them with me!

    I’ve also got multiple copies of books. Some e-format, some audio, some both, and then there’s the oops, forgot I bought it paperback dupes. Thankfully Amazon and Audible don’t let you buy a book more than once.

  20. Hannah says:

    I’ve repurchased a paper book more than once and even, believe it or not, an ebook. I deleted a bunch of books from my Kindle archives earlier this summer, mostly freebies or series romances that I was not going to read or (or re-read). The ebook I repurchased was His at Night by Sherry Thomas (which by the way is on sale now along with the rest of the author’s titles). I deleted it and immediately regretted it! I wish there was way you could sort your titles into collections right on the “Manage Your Kindle” page. I don’t use the collections feature on my Kindle 3 just because I find it cumbersome. And now my Kindle archives have more than 1,000 titles again. C’est la vie!

    I find it no problem to declutter print books. The only problem is that now I’m receiving a lot of ARCs, which you can’t take to used bookstores.

  21. willaful says:

    “Why do people need to be ‘convinced’ to read ebooks? ”

    Speaking only for myself, I was very prejudiced against them, but once I tried them discovered they had many, many advantages. Disadvantages too, of course — I also find not being able to go to certain scenes easily irritating, and will definitely keep those books that I tend to read in sections, rather than straight through.

    But I have a serious book hoarding problem and seriously bad eyes, and ebooks help tremendously with those. I used to panic about how most elderly people I knew live, in small spaces without their stuff. How could I live without my books? Now the thought is so much less frightening.

    • I used to panic about how most elderly people I knew live, in small spaces without their stuff. How could I live without my books? Now the thought is so much less frightening.

      This used to terrify me, too, Willaful. I’d look at my grandmothers, and later, my mother’s room in the nursing home and panic at the thought of not having my books or CD’s. But the e-reader and ipod have changed all that. Now I just have to worry about the food …


  22. Leigh says:

    I do agree that about the disadvantages in finding certain passages, like Willaful, and SON said, but in the long run it is better to have the book, then have to buy it again after getting rid of it.

    PatF, LeeAnn,Terry, Sandy, Xina, Lynn M, Caitie Quinn, Claudia,Willaful thanks for sharing. We could start our own support group.

    Renee, I am doing the same with audiobooks too. I try to save one of my credits for an actual “new to me” book, even though I have loved hearing the characters from my favorite books.

    Hannah, you might have been able to called customer service and had them reinstate the book. . The kindle support teams seems very good. .I will have to check that out on kindle support.

    Susan, yes, the Amazon feature has saved me from buying a book again. I am pretty good about remembering the books, but sometimes I pre-order and then try to pre-order again.

    Nikki, Darlene, Anne W, Linda X, Lynn M I am not too bad about buying a book I already have, although I was surprised this week to find a copy of Natural Born Charmer. I thought I needed to buy another copy.

    Thanks everyone for the posts. I enjoy reading your comments especially when you have the same problem I do (grin).

  23. Ann Stephens says:

    I’m one who is still on the fence about getting an e-reader, but I know my DH would be thrilled to get the shelf space back that my books currently occupy.

    And yes, I too have bought books only to discover later that I already owned them. I mark it up as one of the hazards of being a book lover. :)

  24. Heather says:

    I have done that a lot lately. I also often forget the title of a book, but I still remember a lot of details about a book. I now am entering all of my books onto my goodreads account. I am also looking into an e-reader of some sort. I already have two e-reader apps on my laptop.

  25. readerIowa says:

    I had so many “keepers,” I was running out of shelf space. My NOokColor is a wonderful thing. 170 titles as of today and all on one machine I can slip in my purse and have handy. I buy only ebooks from authors I love or are books I want to have and keep and read and re-read. If I’m not sure of a new author, I read the library’s copy first…and then buy it in ebook format for my “keeper” shelf.

    I never thought I’d love an ereader, but I DO!! It’s wonderful.

    Now to get some favorite authors’…Linda Howard…Rachel Gibson to get their publishers to get some of their early titles out in eformat. Nora Roberts has now with the Stanislaski family series; MacKade Brothers; Quinn Brothers, etc.

  26. Leigh says:


    And they are all in the same place. I checked my Kindle for a book and didn’t have it, and then I checked my hardcopies, and didn’t see it, so I was planning on buying it AGAIN. . . when I found the paperback in a missed place. With e-books you only have to look either on your device or account.

  27. Jane A says:

    My biggest sad is losing my copy of Red Adam’s Lady. The only answer is that I must have turned it into a UBS sometime in the past. What I wouldn’t give to have that as an e-book! I even think I’d download a priate copy, only because I don’t think Grace Ingram will ever see another dime for her work.

    I love my ebook reader and my library in Calibre! When ebooks first hit the scene I started trading in my keepers for e-copies. I quickly realized the importance of stripping DRM so that I would have perpetual access to my books and I urge others to learn the somewhat intricate process of doing so.

  28. Darlene says:

    Jane A…do you mind contacting me at dsomers at hot dot rr dot com? I have a question for you re: how you use Calibre.

  29. Darlene says:

    Jane..thanks for trying…try this one darlenesomers at gmail dot com.

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  32. Rosana Unzicker says:

    Thanks for the great information. I have joined one of your websites posted.

  33. jane says:

    I love my Nookcolor for all the reasons given above. And I do bookmark a lot so I can find those scenes I want. And, more importantly, my whole collection is with me wherever I go and when I want to reread something I consider AAAA, like Sea Swept from the Quinn Brothers series by Nora Roberts or one of Rachel Gibson’s or one of Susan Andersen’s…ta da…it’s right there in my purse!

    I’ve only kept paperback versions of those books still not on digital…and hope the publishers get the contracts negotiated to get those oldies available to us who love our ereaders…Rachel Gibson’s publishers…are you listening???

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