Ereaders and the TBR Pile

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Ereaders and the TBR Pile

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Edited: Feb 13, 2012, 9:43am

I received an ereader for Christmas and began recklessly downloading a bunch of (free) classics I'd always wanted to read, monstrously increasing my TBR pile in one fell swoop. But for some reason, a heap of unread books on my ereader doesn't have the same intimidation factor as the physical unread books on my shelf. Anyone else experience that, or do they feel the same to you?

There's no escaping an unread book on your shelf that's staring back at you. An unread book on an ereader is pretty much invisible, and doesn't feel a whole lot different than a book at the library or bookstore you haven't read yet. I feel less possessive of it, a step removed in ownership somehow, so it doesn't have the same weight.

If this holds true, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Gradually I'll knock through my physical TBR pile, as an increasing percentage lands on the ereader, and the frustration feeling should reduce along with it.

Feb 10, 2012, 3:54pm

I have the same feeling of detachment from my e-books. I made an "Unread e-books" collection on LT just to remind me that they are waiting for me there on my reader, but it doesn't seem to help. The shelf of books that I walk past several times a day is a lot more real than some data on a device.

Feb 10, 2012, 4:49pm

I think it's because it's hard to get a real sense of an e-book. A book's physicality imparts a lot of information even if you're only looking at the spine of a book on your shelf. You can see how thick it is estimate the font size and make an immediate calculation: this is a 3-day read, a 7-day read. a 2-week read. The title of the book on a list on your e-reader gives none of that other information. Also a physical book is mortal and when you know it's been sitting on your shelf for 15 years, all patient and lonely... you respond to that. (Or maybe that's just me)

Edited: Feb 13, 2012, 9:44am

>3 macsbrains:, That's a good way of putting it. I had a copy of Treasure Island sitting around for more than twenty years, and every time I looked at it I remembered the day I received it, and all the intervening circumstances that had always made me put it off (finally read it in January - whew!). If it had been just a title on an e-reader all that time, it would have had no more hold on me than any other book I know exists but haven't read.

>2 SylviaC:&3, PS - it's nice to see I'm not the only one who looks into this sleepy group now and then ;)

Feb 13, 2012, 1:44pm

>4 Cecrow: Well I only just stumbled in here yesterday after I saw you mention this group someplace else. This is definitely a place I belong though, since my TBR is already in the thousands and exponentially gets worse every day.

I don't have an e-reader yet, and probably won't until I have the ability to digitally mark up my books by hand with a stylus. I can't bear to mark up my physical books, but this would be the biggest benefit to me of an e-book. Especially if my marginalia was searchable, that would be awesome. But even though I don't have an e-reader, I used to read a lot of amateur fiction on the web so I am drawing from that experience when talking about physical vs digital books. I have saved my favorite novels and stories on my hard drives (some of which have been transferred from computer to computer for almost 15 years now) but I really would rather have them in book form.

Feb 13, 2012, 5:28pm


My (two-year-old) Sony Reader Touch has a stylus tucked into a nifty little hidey-hole, and you can write onscreen. I'm not sure about the degree of searchability, but you can easily find which pages do have notes. You can also type notes. Mine needs to be charged, so I can't check it out to be more specific.


I also found this group after seeing a recent mention of it.

Feb 13, 2012, 7:03pm

>6 SylviaC: Well look at that! On screen notes & drawings. I'm glad it's already being done and hopefully more readers will do that, and with color. I may eventually get one sooner than I would have expected.

Edited: Feb 14, 2012, 7:36am

I can type (not draw) notes with my Kobo, and it's searchable. But 'searchable' as in I can see a list of all my notes out of context. To make that useful, I have to write each note in a way that explains what I'm talking about.

Nov 10, 2017, 9:58am

I only started developing a sense of guilt over my ebooks when I realized that I have over 600 unread! Granted, I purchased a lot of them for my mom and dad and husband to read, but most of them have an interest for me as well. So now there is weight sitting in my tablet, looking at me with patient, watchful eyes, reading all my physical books. So, I've begun treating it as my TBR shelves, randomly picking one or two books out of it a month to read. Hopefully.

I agree with the above statements that the physicality of the books on shelves is such that there is more urgency to read them.