The Two Real Reasons Ebooks And Simple Blogs Don’t Go Together

Last Friday, I told you that So Much More Life is now an ebook-free zone. But before I close the door on the topic of ebooks, here’s a post that explains what I really meant.

As told you earlier this week in my post about creating something beautiful, my ebook post wasn’t written very well and confused some of you about what I was really saying. Today, I’m speaking more precisely.

This is my final post related to ebooks until there’s a new development that’s worthy of note.

Here are the two big reasons that ebooks written by minimalist bloggers, simplicity bloggers and self-help or self-improvement gurus really aren’t a good idea.

1. Because ebooks clutter rather than contribute.

The first step in getting an out-of-control life in order is getting rid of the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional and electronic clutter that weighs you down. We’ve talked about all those things here before.

Because ebooks are unnecessary and ultimately unfulfilling, they’re clutter. Most print books are unnecessary also, and so are most magazines, most DVDs and most single-purpose kitchen gadgets, for that matter.

Really good blogs get bogged down and eventually burn out when they turn from useful, interesting, fun and creative posts to sales letters aimed at moving ebooks.

Ebooks are clutter, and posts promoting ebooks are perhaps the ultimate clutter — clutter aimed at further cluttering your life.

2. Because ebooks instruct rather than inspire.

Ebooks often vary from the blogs they accompany in a very important way: While most blogs hope to inspire readers to action or at least higher levels of thinking, blogger ebooks are often instruction booklets or guides.

There’s no set formula for success, however, and what worked for one person won’t necessarily help you at all. While instructions are useful if you’re making a cake or building a dam, they don’t help much when you want to rebuilding a life or build a passive income.

Blog post are usually short and leave many of the details to the imagination of the reader. Ebooks are long and must be padded with steps and case studies to make up the word count.

Also, since ebooks must be sold, they need hooks. Too often, the hook is a promise of a better life if you follow the steps. Marketers rightly believe that you are more likely to buy a product that touts precise promises instead of vague concepts.

Vague concepts, however, inspire rather than instruct, allowing your brain to create the details that fit with what you already know — and that’s something amazing. Perhaps it’s something beautiful.

If You Must Have An Exception

If you know of an ebook that concisely inspires and never attempts to instruct, please consider it an exception. To make that exception intellectually valid, however, you must also admit that any blog post or other piece of text that attempts to instruct you about life rather than inspire you is clutter.

Getting rid of the life’s clutter means getting rid of ebooks. After you’ve had your say in the comments section below, my involvement in this topic will end.

As I said, ebooks are clutter. And all this talk about them verges on clutter too.


  1. I just bought an ebook that was 99% a regurgitation of what the authors already said on their website. Do I feel ripped off? Yes, indeed. Good for you, Gip, for taking this stand.

    1. Yes, I think many of us have had that experience. While an ebook might be useful in introducing a writer you aren’t familiar with, you can usually get everything you want to know from their site. Your experience probably caused you to think less of the writer and of ebooks in general.


    2. Linda, I’d encourage you to ask for a refund from whichever blogger you purchased from. Many bloggers have satisfaction guarantees (and I usually don’t trust ones that don’t)!

  2. “Really good blogs get bogged down and eventually burn out when they turn from useful, interesting, fun and creative posts to sales letters aimed at moving ebooks.”

    Beautifully and succinctly put. And which is when I unsubscribe to those blogs.

    I really like this post. I think it made your reasons much clearer than in the previous post on the subject. It also makes it clear that living one’s minimalist philosophy is a lot harder than blogging about it.

    Keep on with what you are doing. Thumbs up, and all that.

    1. Thanks, Marti. I felt like I was trying to say something important in my last post on this topic and never really got around to it. I’m much more proud of this one.

      I always appreciate your support.

      1. I like this post better too. I still don’t agree with your take on it, but I feel this post articulates your thoughts much, much more clearly.

        As I said in another comment, I like that you clarified your opinion extends to most media, including magazines, DVDs, and actual print books.

        That makes the whole argument much more consistent.

  3. you’ve got a pretty heartfelt view on this usbject, no doubt. and i agree, while ebooks might be well-intentioned, they often leave much to be desired, and, like you said, are clutter as well as rigid. i like you r last line “As I said, ebooks are clutter. And all this talk about them verges on clutter too.”

    1. The thing I appreciate about this post is that Gip indicated that he felt the same way about most print books as well.

      There’s nothing unique about ebooks that inherently makes them any more or less rigid than the average print book. You could do a search & replace in this post, and swap out “ebooks” for “books”, and it would be just as valid – probably even more so.

  4. I was ripped off myself recently. I bought an ebook from a site and later found the exact same information on the website. I rarely buy ebooks .You have to be careful who you trust and I was very disappointed in the blogger that did this.
    Good work.

    1. I’ve purchased very few ebooks and received several for free from bloggers hoping I would promote them. None of them impressed me, although some were more useful than others. Some were, at least, readable.

      I wonder how many other ripoff reports we’ll see here? And I wonder if the same blogger or bloggers will be responsible for most of them?

    2. I discovered that if you google the ebook title, 75% of the time it it is available as a free download. I always wondered how people felt who paid anywhere from $27 to $77 for these books.

      1. Yes, that’s true. Either the writer has offered it for free at some time or to some audience or someone else has put it up for free. For ebooks that have been uncopyrighted (a trend a year or two ago), posting or use of any kind is perfectly legal and ethical.

        Even for free, however, I don’t want to read most of them. I’d rather be creating something interesting myself.

    3. Leo Babauta did this a little ways back. He collected a large handful of posts from his archive that covered similar material, and released them as an ebook.

      I know there were a lot of readers that were unhappy with it!

      What I don’t know is whether he promoted the ebook as being a collection of old posts or not. If he did, then the solution is to just not buy it. If not, then it falls into the realm of “scammy sales tactics”.

  5. I have trouble labeling an entire type of media as “clutter.” Shitty e-books are clutter. There’s no reason a good e-book has to be clutter, though. Labeling complete swaths of media as clutter seems intellectually lazy. There’s bad movies and good movies. There’s good books and bad books. It goes for everything. But just deciding that all of something is clutter is akin to saying, “I can’t be bothered to decide which of these are worth my time.” Which is totally cool if you don’t want to make the effort to figure that out. And when it comes to minimalism e-books, I don’t blame you. I don’t presume to tell anyone what the best use of their time, attention and money is. But your clutter isn’t necessarily anybody else’s.

    1. That’s just it, Sam: I can’t be bothered anymore. And based on what I’ve seen of the genre, there’s no reason to be. Separating the wheat from whatever you’re supposed to separate it from is a lot of work that could be better spent creating.

      Your recent ebook is good, actually, but I just can’t recommend any of them anymore. And as I said, this extends to most print books, magazines…

  6. I’m glad you revisited this topic, GIp. And I still mostly agree with you, although for me the annoying part is all the advertising, reviews, and promotion. Ignoring the books is simple enough; don’t download them and don’t read them. It is when all that distracting promotional clutter starts to make my visits to otherwise enjoyable blogs more of an annoyance than a pleasure.

    1. You’re exactly right. Ebook promotion hijacks good blogs for weeks or months. You can’t ignore the ebooks because the blogger or some other blogger is always mentioning them.

  7. Your words “padded with steps” jumped out at me. I just realised that I’m not reading any blogs or articles with steps in them these days. I guess on reflection I prefer to hear about what steps bloggers make to move themselves forward (and the ensuing emotional struggles) than to be given instructions as to how I might move myself forward. I find it boring to be given advice and thats because its rarely lack of knowledge of the “how” that holds me back.

    You can take it as a compliment that I read this blog post – it nearly got rejected as it has 2 numbered paragraphs! But I always enjoy your writing for its authenticity.

    1. When I first started blogging seriously a couple of years ago, most blog posts had numbered lists or steps. Now, few do. It’s a great change. I use lists when I have something to say that belongs in a list, not because someone wrote in a blog about blogging that people like lists.


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