Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Electronic books vs. print books, for information storage.

As preppers we have a lot of information we want to save and have handy at our fingertips when we need it.  In the last few years we've moved more and more to electronic forms of storing that information.  We buy kindle books, or save pages to our computers, hoping that we will be able to access it no matter what.
In our case, we have a solar electric power system for our house, and we were smug that we would be able to access books and information stored on our computers and other devices long after any possible "SHTF" situation.  Even if the batteries would no longer hold a charge, we could power the devices directly off our solar panels. 
Oh, sure, sometimes we'd fork out the money for an actual print book, but right now on my kindle I have over 500 books stored.  So does my husband.  Not all of them are things that will be essential to survival if the world collapses.  The books containing 30 excellent muffin recipes and 15 hacks for a better work-out can probably dissolve into cyber never-land and I could continue on.  But the books about edible wild foods and how to set a snare for small game are a little more likely to be useful.
We know that electronics have to be replaced from time to time.  They get viruses or become outdated, or they have other problems.  Yet it didn't really occur to me how much information could be lost if this happened at a time when we can't easily retrieve the information on them.  When I bought a tablet I was able to add my kindle account to it.  I left all the previous books on my old black and white kindle and just started downloading any new purchases to my tablet.  
When the handwriting was on the wall that my computer was giving out two year ago, I emailed all my document files to myself so I could download them to my new computer, and then backed up all my files and pictures. 
However, we have had two things happen recently that have undermined my confidence in being able to access our books and information.  The first one was that my tablet would not turn on.  My grandson had been playing games on it and I figured he had just drained the battery totally into darkness, so I charged it.  And charged it and charged it.  It still would not turn on.  I was about to grudgingly take it in to see if it was fixable and I had resigned myself to losing the pictures on it. 
Then someone suggested I try a different charger cord.  My tablet has a weird connection for the charger cord and nothing else we owned used that same one.  So I bought a new cord and that took care of the problem.  Big relief, right?  No.  I realized that even if my tablet continued to work after a "SHTF" event, if I didn't have a working charger cord the tablet would be useless. 
The suggestion here might be that we buy and put away a few charger cords for our electronic devices that we expect to need if something were to happen and we could not buy a new cord.  That's something you'll have to each decide for yourself.
The other thing that happened is that my husband's old black & white kindle won't turn on.  He plugged it in and charged it, and the light obediently turned to green when it felt like the battery was charged.  The advertising picture that sits on the screen when the kindle is turned off is there on the screen like it should be.  But the kindle doesn't come on when he pushes the button.  We've tried over and over.  Short pushes, long pushes, nothing makes it come to life.  We still have not solved that one, but at least he can retrieve all the books and move them to another device such as his tablet.
If the "SHTF" he could not have that information transferred since it takes the internet to do so, by going through amazon's "manage my kindle" feature.  All those books would be lost.
We can have a store room full of spare computers, tablets, kindles, etc., and still risk losing all our information.  The answer would be to have "hard copies", such as print books, or by printing information off the computer.  Some information is harder to save and print than other information.  I've recently had a few people ask how they could print up some of my blog posts.  Unfortunately I am not very "techy" and I don't know how it can be done.  If something doesn't have a "printer ready" place to click on the page, I just assume it's beyond the scope of my technical knowledge.
I've recently learned how to do a "screen shot" (okay, young people, stop laughing!  I know it was easy for you!  lol) and save it to my computer like a photo image.  From there I could theoretically print it like a picture, after enlarging it enough to read it.  That might be one option for technically-challenged people like myself.
The copyright laws that cover information published on the internet have a lot of gray areas.  But generally if you're printing something for your own use, it's "okay".  If you present it to others as your own writing, that's bad.  If you re-publish it in your own name, that's plagarizing and it's bad.  If you sell the information to others, even with the original author's name on it, that's bad.  If you quote parts of it in your own writing AND GIVE CREDIT TO THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR, that's okay. 
The exception is "free downloads" from pirate or bootleg websites that illegally offer kindle and other electronic books.  Please make sure you are getting your books from a legitimate site and not a 'stolen' book offered on these book download sites.  If you get any of the kindle books that I have published from anyone except amazon.com, you are getting an illegal download. 
You should probably do your own searching regarding legal issues, but I'm giving you permission here on this post to print up anything you can off of my blog IF IT IS FOR YOUR OWN INFORMATION and you are not going to try and sell it to others.  You can even make another copy for a friend or relative, since this information is here on a blog that I have given the public access to, and your friend or relative could print it up themselves for free, too, if they wanted.  But instead you have graciously used your printer ink to provide them with a copy of information that I hope is helpful for people both before and after a SHTF event. 
But back to the original subject.... if you're relying on electronic devices to store your potentially life-saving information, consider having back ups and extra power cords and anything else you deem necessary to sustain this form in information.
Please leave comments or questions below or at: povertyprepping@yahoo.com
Thank you!


  1. i have lots of books on my kindle but I also will print out certain things to keep in my folder for herbal medicine, some recipes, etc. I am too old to trust any electronics or the internet.

  2. While a screen shot gives you a picture of a page, it certainly isn't the easiest way to keep a local copy of an article or get a good print out.
    I use a web browser tool called CleanPrint that cleans out the stuff on a web page that you may not want to save or have on a print out. ClearPrint is available at http://www.formatdynamics.com/bookmarklets/ With ClearPrint you can either print it directly or save the page locally (File, Save Page As.. or similar depending on the browser you are using) for viewing at a later time without any internet access.

    I make it a point to try and get a hold of "dead tree editions" of books that would be particularly useful in "SHTF" situations since paper is proven to be so much more robust for long term storage than any of the electronics we have. I do look for ones printed on acid free paper as the regular paper that uses acid in the manufacturing process does yellow and get brittle with age, just think of how old newspapers look. I have also picked up some sheaf's of printer paper that are acid free for when printing items I wish to keep long term, such as a few of your posts for my "SHTF" binders. Where possible I try to print with a laser printer as I've found that the print outs tend to be more robust and long lasting than inkjets, with the bonus that laser printing works to be cheaper than inkjets in the long run, especially if you can live without colour.