Google books has nothing on me: for months now I've been cutting the pages out of old books, scanning them into PDFs, storing them on a hard drive and recycling the paper. OCR makes the text searchable and selectable.
Most important: I'll never schlep them up a flight of stairs again.
Ripping books. Literally. I have a sheet-fed scanner - a Fujitsu Scan Snap S510M - which works quickly. It handles about 20 sheets per minute, scanning both sides. A 200 page book takes about 5 minutes to scan.
The problem is turning a bound book into sheets. I've been using a utility knife to cut the pages, but I'm hoping to find something quicker - and smaller than a bandsaw.
But the knife only takes a few minutes. In less than 10 minutes I can reduce a bulky 2-3 pound book to a weightless file with all the typography, graphics and even the paper's color preserved in a PDF.
A target rich environment I still have books from college and grad school, such as Mendenhall's Understanding Statistics, the most practical stat book I've found. Having it on my computer rather than upstairs on a shelf makes it much more usable.
I'm not saying they should have scanned those books, but I understand.
The Storage Bits take Buckminster Fuller used to talk about the ephemeralization of the physical, the logical outcome of "doing more with less." We are still caught up in the physicality of media, from the 10 Commandment’s stone tablets to the soothing solidity of a book-lined wall.
But the downloading iTunes generation has moved past that. You want a greener society? Stop cutting down trees and lugging books around.
Me? I just want to save my back the next time I move.
Comments welcome, of course.