Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Archives: Books. Photos. What's your plan?

Where do you keep your master files?

"Master files of what?" you ask.

All the things that have preserved information, preserved stories, music, and images that chronicled who we were and from where we've come, the fiction that has delighted us, the videos we watched years later, and the music we've listened to--sometimes a generation or two later.

As I sit looking at my bookcase, I'm a bit worried.  And I know I have photos in albums and some even in shoe boxes--along with their negatives  beneath my bed. In the family-room, there are a couple shelves of music CDs; they are my archive. I no longer have any vinyl records because, well,  you know, media changes so...devices change... Eventually I had nothing left to play them on.

I don't dust as often as I should, so some are collecting dust.  Even so, when I want them, they are there. Tangible things they are. Most of what I've kept is because they are special, and hold a big slice of sentimentality for me. Some simply because they're classics.

The debate about ebooks versus paper books appears to be settled, with ebooks taking the lead for many reasons.  I like ebooks, and have lots. They're convenient, they're reasonable, my Kindle changes font size so I don't have to wear my reading glasses. What's not to like?  

But with the exponential increase in ebook sales, I have begun to wonder...  How are we keeping the master copies?  For the copy that in 60 or 70  years will be pulled out of a file folder and read while the reader awes at their antique ebook.

The temporary nature of ebook files concerns me too. Drawing on my experience with digital cameras and digital photos, and seeing the similarities in the change from a print form of media to a digital form in both books and photos, I think the average person is not going to archive their files in a way that will allow access in 20 or 30 years, like we've always been able to do. And I admit to pulling out my dogeared copies of The Thorn Birds, and Andersonville, and reading them when they were over 30 years old and 55 years old respectively.  And that was in the last couple of months.

Okay, I'm trying to visualize keeping track of digital files and updating them, converting them when necessary to new file types...and in 55 years, reading my digital copies of Girl Under Glass, Dancing With Eternity, or Bountiful Creek (I love these stories, all new, and I originally read them in digital form).

Back to my vinyl records experience: formats change, file-types change, and the devices to read them change as well.  I have photo cards that are unreadable using my current computer hardware.  

Maybe it's just me. I have a difficult time reconciling a bookcase with a file folder on my computer. Maybe it's my age, my generation? But for me, there's something to be said for searching on a bookcase for an old book, or digging through a shoebox of photos under the bed. They exist for years, no updating required...

What's your plan for saving e-files of books, photos, movies, etc?


  1. they are all kept online, but on my iphone kindle, i just keep the ones i'm reading or going to read. good to have around when i'm out and about!

    1. I know what you mean, Tammy. I do like my Kindle for that. And as long as Amazon doesn't change their cloud policy, it's all good. But I try to buy stellar books in print editions (after I've read them on digital to see if I like them. Must be my generation ,lol. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Can't be your age or generation because I'm the same way. Not meaning to call you old or anything.

    1. lolol! I love it! And I'm glad that someone so much younger than me gets what I'm feeling about this situation. :-) Thanks, Kate :-)

  3. I've wondered about this too. It's such an intangible thing. If a book goes out of print, at least it could be found in an old bookshop 50 years later, but a file? That's why I would always publish paperback versions of anything I put out as well as ebooks.

    1. I'm glad you've published print versions of your books, Nick! It's a big question. Where will the books all be in a hundred years? Or a hundred-fifty years? :-) Thanks for visiting!