I’ve been away from my blog for a while now and am eager to get back into reading and writing as we head into the cooler months of fall and winter. I needed a creative break and while I’m not sure I have all my creative juices flowing, I do have some new ideas, some of which may change my blog, what I write about, and the blog location. Still in the works and TBD.

For now, my thoughts have been revolving around building your own personal library and what that exactly means these days with e-books and e-readers advancing further and libraries evolving to make digital content accessible, with less focus on the paper book and magazine format. Same with bookstores – while bookstores are still selling the printed physical format of books and magazines, Amazon and others are selling e-books and digital downloads right along side, increasing in popularity, and lower in cost.

My first question is: do e-books and digital content save paper and use less resources? My slant is, are e-books and e-readers (and other devices) really “green?” Is this really something that can help the environment?

Second question: Will e-books start advertising? As I do not own or watch a TV and haven’t for 8 years now, I avoid media advertising as much as possible. That’s a tricky thing these days though. You really can’t get away from advertising or marketing as it’s all over the internet and soon to be infiltrating e-books. I would abhor ads in my books. I would protest having to pay extra to take the ads out. We live in a society that is entirely consumer-based: there is always someone trying to sell someone else something. I’m guilty of this too: I work in market research, I make beads and scarves to sell, and I’m watching for ways to grow other businesses. It’s a catch-22 when our society relies on consumerism, and like it or not, it’s hard to break free from this form of economy.

So, do you build a physical book-based library stored on shelves, or do you build your own digital e-book collection, stored on your ipod, Kindle, or other reader device? For now, like most fellow readers, I am doing both. I am reading and collecting books I consider special for my own library shelves at home, and I am building my digital audio book and music collection stored in iTunes. I also still use and very much value my local public library.

With music, I used to have a growing CD collection (a music prof told my class we weren’t good musicians unless we were building our own massive CD collections), but in recent years, I have stopped buying as many CDs. Instead, I value music I can check out from the Library, or download from Amazon, iTunes, or NPR, and listen to on the many streaming radio sources, or watch performances on YouTube. In fact, I have a large collection of CDs that I’m waiting for a rainy/snowy day to burn and put into my iTunes library. CDs take up space, they scratch easily, and are slightly cumbersome now. Having music on my laptop that I can listen to while I work, or put on the iPod while I drive are like little luxuries. Also, it’s so easy to organize and categorize your music on iTunes or other digital music software.

With all the technological advancements, does it all make you wonder where we will be at in 25-50-75-100 years? I do think about this. I think about the past too, take 100-150+  years ago and books and information were not as plentiful in quantity. The few books people had were usually special books, of religious, educational, scientific, or philosophical works. Probably a few farmer’s almanacs and good housewives books or periodicals too.

Do you ever think about if you could only keep a few books, what would they be and why? I think about this if I were to go on a multi-month trek and could only bring 1-2 books and what would they be? I’m not sure I could carry just 1-2 books, so here’s the catch–22 again, maybe I need an e-reader so I could load my 100-200 favorite books!

Whether you are building a physical library, a digital library, or both, I encourage collecting works based on quality, value, meaning, and personal importance. Whatever you do, enjoy reading and recognize the long term benefits of literacy for the human race.