Monday, November 29, 2010

Is Your E-book Reader a Money Pit?

So do you think your e-book reader is saving you money?  Are you saving a bundle on your kindle by purchasing new bestsellers at a few dollars less than you would have paid for their hardcover versions?  Or, are you getting rooked by your Nook because Barnes and Noble heavily discounts those same bestsellers in hardcover anyway.  In other words, have your reading and book-buying habits changed significantly, or at all, since you started using your new toy?

I've had two Sony Readers in the last few years, the second one being an upgrade to the one I bought almost as soon as the gadgets hit the market.  Honestly, though, my reading habits are the same now as they were before I ever heard about e-books.  I shoot for 100 pages a day and it doesn't matter to me whether I get those pages from an e-book reader or from a physical book.  Well, if I'm being totally honest, I am more comfortable reading from a tree-book than from an e-book, but there are times during which only the Sony Reader is practical.  

I don't buy any more books than I used to - and 95% of my book purchases are of the physical variety.  The only significant change sparked by my Sony Reader purchase (and by my recent iPad purchase) is that I have built a pretty fair electronic library of literary classics and other old books long out of print.  But those, for the most part, have been acquired free of charge, so my spending level is unchanged.  I still haunt my local library and at least half-a-dozen used-book bookstores.  Now, I do check the various online bookstores at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple several times a week - but that's mainly to see what else I can snag for free.  That works well as long as I am not tempted to buy something else I randomly run across on one of those sites...always a struggle, I admit.

How about you, my fellow e-book reader enthusiasts?  Do you read more than you did before your purchase of the reader?  Do you buy more books now?  Do you read in new, weird places just because you can?  Are you buying books and stacking them up just because it's so easy to get them instantly?  Is this convenience factor causing you to spend more money on books than you really want to? has an interesting article on the impact of e-book readers, including a bunch of interesting statistics.  You should take a look.


  1. I spent a few months wishing I could afford an e-book reader of some sort but then after researching more and realizing that none of them gave me the flexibility of my laptop but cost almost as much, I decided to scrap the idea.

    I have a web server at home that I host an employee related site for work on. I loaded one of the free PDF format books I have to the site in a hidden file so I could access it from my office computer (during breaks of course) and enjoyed being able to read some. However, it still took me most of a year to read the book so it wasn't very efficient!

    I enjoy my audio books but the feel of a real book just can't be beat! :)

  2. I forget I even have an ebook reader. Still prefer holding a real book and turning the pages. The e-readers are great for trips, but in our house,they will never replace paper books. Or the library's free books.

  3. In the two months I've had my e-reader, I think I've only spent a total of $0.99 on books for it. I've used it mainly for books offered by B&N free, classics in the public domain, and galleys available on NetGalley. If I'm going to spend money on a book, I want the physical copy.

  4. I read about 200 books per year which averages out to somewhere between 63,000-74,000 pages per year. I buy very few books and mostly read books I check out of the library. At a rough $15 per book, 200 books is $3000/year.

    I do own a Kindle and I love it. I have arthritis in my hands and it was much easier to read Fall of Giants on my Kindle than hold an 800 page book for hours. Currently, I am read Lonesome Dove on it (another 800 page book) as part of my project to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners of Fiction.

    I love my Kindle. I was sure I would hate giving up paper books but I don't. I would read the majority of my books on my Kindle if I could afford it. Owning a Kindle has not changed the number of books I read but probably has slightly increased the number of books I purchase. I could have easily checked out Lonesome Dove from the library with no worries about having to return it in a certain amount of time, but I decided that the ease of my Kindle was worth the cost.

    I purchased the Kindle largely because I travel for business and I hated desperately trying to find a book in the airport because I had read all that I had brought or carrying around books that I never read, etc. It is worth its weight in gold on that front especially if you travel internationally where luggage weight can be even more of a concern.

    I would mourn if e-readers replaced paper books and I do hate that I can't loan my books. If I had purchased Fall of Giants in hardcover, I would have loaned it to my dad and maybe someone else. Instead, he will probably purchase it himself on his Kindle. So, e-readers have changed some reading habits.

    I would like to believe that eventually the makers of e-readers would realize that many people buy books and share them and it is ok if that happens on e-readers too but what is their incentive to do so? I am a perfect example of someone who probably purchased a book I might not have otherwise and because I did on my e-reader, I have likely caused someone else to purchase it as well.

  5. I agree, Andy. E-book readers will never have the feel of a real book and at what these single-use gadgets cost is really too much still, IMO. I do see the prices coming down pretty steadily, though, over the next year or so. The multiple-use capability of the iPad is what makes it seem to be a bargain (even though it is more expensive than the vast majority of the readers).

  6. Jenclair, my Sony Reader was used mostly while traveling by plane or train. Don't do much of that anymore, though, so it was getting less and less use before I farmed it out to my granddaughter. She's pretty intrigued by the thing.

  7. I'm with you, Julie. I wonder how many e-book reader owners are doing the same...spending very little new money but filling up on the free stuff. I do love the idea of having a classics library and a Civil War memoir library on the thing.

  8. Abby, thanks so much for all that input.

    In my case, the Reader was all about easing my travel load. I used to work in the Sahara Desert for 30 days at a time and it was comforting to know that I had a pretty good library in my coat pocket when I left home. My great fear was to be stuck in that vast nothingness out there and run out of things to read. Stir craziness would have become a problem for me in that case.

    I can also well understand your point about reading heavy books if you have an arthritis problem. Heck, I don't have that problem but still found reading that 800+ page biography of Washington to be a bit trying at times. (BTW, I hope you're enjoying Lonesome favorite book.)

    I have to doubt that e-books will ever completely replace physical books...too much demand from booklovers and collectors for that to happen, IMO. I'm reading a wonderful book right now in which 30 people talk about their favorite book and how much those books changed or influenced their lives for the better...something that would never happen if all there was was e-books. I'll finish it tonight and can't wait to share the details in a review.

    As for e-book sharing, I think what the publishers worry about is the ease with which e-books can be mass-distributed over the net. I understand their concern but wish there were a compromise that would satisfy both publishers and readers.

  9. I'm reading more than I did in pre-eReader days.

    It's just too easy to watch an interview or BookTV bit and click over to buy the book.

    But almost 100% of my eReading time is "in the cracks". Times/places that I never got to read before. So lot's of sitting in the car, standing in line, rocking the baby, etc. and reading goes on these days. It's great, but as I stay a physical being, I think I too will always prefer the physical book.

  10. Trav, that kind of buying spree is what I'm trying to avoid and, so far, I've only given into the temptation once or twice where I bought something completely on the spur of the moment after stumbling across it.

    I like your "in the cracks" comment. That's pretty much the way I use an e-reader, also - unless I'm away from home for a number of days.