Thursday, March 14, 2013

How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the eBook

So, I'm going to make a shocking statement.  Ready? 

I have not bought a full-priced hardback book since The Deathly Hallows.  

I know, I know.  I should support other authors.  And I'd really like to. It's just, well...as the kids these days say, I'm poor as shit.  And a $35 book is just too much of an expense for me.  I rarely shell out that kind of cash for anything.  I stream videos instead of paying for cable.  I will very rarely pay full-price for a video game, but I almost always pay for most of it in credit (and even then, a good game provides 60+ hours of story).  So I borrow a lot from the library.  The rest of the time, I buy used -- used CDs, used games, used books.  If I'm not buying used, I buy off the bargain rack.  I can't help it! 

And this is one of the very best things about the ebook revolution:  All of a sudden, I can afford to read new books! 

And not just the freebies and 99-centers, although I do download a lot of those little bastards.  But right up to $10 or so, I feel comfortable with that purchase.  The cheaper the book is, the more of them I can buy. 

I was a slow adopter to e-reader technology.  I'm a slow adopter of all technology, and I really do love books -- the way they look, the way they smell.  But once I caved in and got my first Kindle (a Christmas present), I started to realize how appealing they are.  That Kindle is gone now (I left it at the gym -- oops), but now I do all of my reading on my Android.  I do want to get a new full-size Kindle sometime (maybe when I can find one used, hah!) but for now, it does the job. 

Here's why I love ebooks:
  • They're portable! I've moved several times, and I always dread lugging the enormous, heavy boxes of books from one house to the next.  With ebooks, I don't have to break my back carrying them around.  I don't have to guilt over whether I have the space for just one more book on my shelf.  And if I'm going on a trip, I don't have to agonize over which book to take or worry that I'll run out of things to read if I finish the first one fast.  
  • They're cheap! As previously noted, I can read a whole lot more $2 books than $20 books.  Since it's not a hugely expensive purchase, I don't have to carefully debate whether it's really worth it.  This lets me read books that I never would've spent money on before.  
  • I can find weird stuff!  I LOVE being able to find everything in the public domain for free on my phone (except for the Island of Dr. Moreau which isn't on Kindle and the Project Gutenberg version won't work on my phone, grrrr).  The English major in me loves being able to read the classics any time I want, and the geek in me likes to find really weird obscure stuff.  Like, for example, the dozen or so 100+ year old cookbooks that I downloaded.  
  • They're not obnoxiously heavy! I still have yet to finish the Song of Ice and Fire books (I know, shame on me) and that's partly because I have them in paperback, and they're just so unwieldy.  Spines bend and crack.  Your arms get tired from holding it.  And hardbacks are even worse.  We must never speak of how many dust jackets have gone mysteriously missing in the house....
  • I can get them instantaneously!  I can buy a book and start reading it within seconds.  I don't have to drive out to the store.  I don't have to wait in line.  It's like magic! 
  • The dog can't pee on them!  Well, technically he still could, but it's a lot easier to keep one small electronic device away from him than remember to never keep any book anywhere on or near the floor.  
So, yeah, I'm a big ebook fan now.  They've enabled me to find and read a LOT more books than I would otherwise.

Which is not to say that I don't still love "real" books.  I like the status they give.  I like being able to lend them out  to people.  I like being able to stare at the cover and find new details in the artwork.  And I still really love the way they smell. 

But I reserve "real" book purchases for things I really want.  Those books I loved so much I can't bear not to have a copy.  Or the books I find used or on the bargain rack that I want RIGHT THEN and maybe can't find online anyway.  There's still a little bit of room on my shelf, after all...

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