Why buy E-Books?

You pay for them but you don’t actually own them.

They don’t have the book feel and smell in your hands.

Anyone can publish an E-book, so there are lot’s of worthless books to sort through.

All these reasons and more lead many readers to prefer hard copy books to the electronic medium. So what is the big deal then? Why are E-books all over the place?

E-books come with the advantages of immediate access, easy storage, and (usually) a lower price. I suspect that I’m not the only one who dreams of obtaining another bookshelf and then spends the money on more books and adds them to the stack in the corner. Or the only one who has been disappointed with the number of books that fit in carry-on luggage. I’ll bet that I’m not the only one who wants to read that new release, but doesn’t want to drive to the store or wait on the mailman. And lastly I’ll bet that the price concept is not one that I need to elaborate on.

That is not to say that I only buy E-books. I have my favorite authors, whose books I will continue buying in hard copy form until they no longer make them. There are also books that are simply works of art, and I want them displayed on my shelves because their appearance is pleasing to me. Finally, after a twelve hour shift with a bright computer screen staring me in the eye the last thing I want is for my book to treat me the same way! (Though the E-ink screens go a long way towards remedying that).

I use my E-reader for a specific strategy, very similar to how I formerly used libraries: to search for new series and new authors who I might otherwise never encounter. That way I can sample a book without leaving the house and risking my life on the roads (your mileage, pun definitely intended, may vary. I’ve been in two accidents in four months, and neither were my fault.) I can try out an author who is new to me without having to dispose of the corpse of their book afterwards if I didn’t like it. And if I find a book that I know I will want to read again, then it goes on the Christmas/Birthday list. I can do all of that and save money! It is awesome.

I feel a few skeptical looks. It can’t be that much money, right? Well, let us assume that you don’t buy a delicious coffee drink and a snack to sip/munch as you browse your books. And let us assume that the bookstore is not next to (insert whatever store you like) where you have been meaning to go and since you are already there you might as well hit the bookstore anyway. We can assume these things because you and I are awesome humans who never do such impulsive things, right

What about gas? I have to drive fifteen minutes to get to the closest bookstore. Then fifteen minutes back: that’s thirty minutes of driving time, 12 miles, all city, so I get crappy mileage. And if you like, add in twenty minutes of yoga to relax after driving through traffic. Or a beer or two, your choice. (For the record, beer is more expensive and less healthy. Guess which one I favor. If you’re thinking anything with a “y,” you’re wrong.)

All of that totals to $15.10 ($10 worth of time, $2.10 worth of gas, and $3 worth of beer) additional cost of the books you bought. Not that much money, right? Depends on how often you go to the bookstore, how many books you buy, and how often they have the book you want. And please note, that total reflects my car, my situation, my beer choices, and what my employer thinks my time is worth. Depending on your situation, it may be a lot less or a lot more. If I went to the bookstore once a week, at best I’m looking at $60 a month. That is awfully close to what I pay for water, and it used to be what I paid for my phone. Anyone who follows a budget can carry it out further and say $720 a year. That’s a decent amount of money, especially when you look at the price of E-readers. Think about it.

Note: Please do not take this as me telling you that you must buy an E-reader because you need to save money and my way is the only way. All I am trying to say is that it is worth considering. For some people, E-readers are not the right way. Others may find them useful. At the end of the day, most of us read because we find it relaxing and entertaining, and I do not believe that anyone must relax and be entertained in a certain way. But I do believe that people should consider the facts, especially when they are trying to maintain their standard of living in the current economic climate.


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