Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Invisible TBR Pile

In the battle between e-readers and physical books, I’m firmly in both camps. I read both, avidly. That means I have any number of books waiting on my Kindle, as well as stacks on my bedroom (and living room and office) floor.
I’ve discovered, however, that a TBR category on my e-reader is not the same thing as a TBR pile on my nightstand.
One advantage of e-readers is that the books don’t clutter your living space. Limited shelf space is no longer a constraint for the collection! This also turns out to be a disadvantage. Books piled on the floor are stumbled over regularly. Books stacked on my nightstand snag my eye daily. The beautiful covers are like little ads and each exposure nudges me closer to page one.
The shelf on my e-reader is very different. The files do not clamor for attention. They wait patiently for me to rediscover them, even as I add more and more files to the folder. The “shelf” will never need to be weeded out to accept more books. It is, in one sense, an infinitely deep well and I can no longer see to the bottom. As a result, I fear, I have many wonderful books awaiting me that I have, simply, forgotten about.
As with my physical shelves, I have started, and abandoned, more than one organizational scheme. But moving files into folders is no less time consuming than rearranging physical shelves and somehow less rewarding, so there is now little organization to my e-reader files at all. Alphabetical? By author? By date of download? And though the reader does sync across devices, the samples don’t. And some files are “archived” and not downloaded unless I ask for them. As a result, I may stumble across a book on my phone reader that doesn’t surface so quickly on my main reader. And what’s on my PC looks entirely different.
I guess, perhaps, they aren’t so different from my physical shelves after all. The misplaced title, the double shelved rows hiding a different collection behind the first – these are parallel to the discovery that awaits, some day, when I go through my e-files seeking the next thing to read.
How about you? Do you have a TBR file on your e-reader? Do you go searching regularly? Have you ever stumbled across a book you’d forgotten you had?


Melinda B. Pierce said...

So funny! I have both as well. A huge stack of books sitting behind my desk, and several that I've downloaded that I just haven't had a chance to get to.

It gets so overwhelming! I do find that with such a large TBR pile, I am more likely to stop reading a book I'm not liking and pick up another. I never used to be that way, but with the pile growing, I tend to be choosier.



Blythe Gifford said...

Melinda: I'm using sample e-chapters that way. If I like it, press buy! If not, no loss. Helps weed out many things before I buy.