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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

E-Book Angst Resolved!

Since the arrival of the new e-reader in my life I've been torn on what to read. That picture is my small bookcase before we packed and moved. I have four others that are twice the size and equally over-flowing with good books.

I love books. I love collecting books.

I love e-books. I love carrying fifty books and not breaking my back.

I don't love spending money on myself.

There is always something I need more than a new books. Not want more, but need. The kids need new shoes, Eldest needs new clothes, the car needs an oil change, the dog needs his shots updated, we need to save for the next move.

So as much as I want to spend a few thousand dollars stocking my new e-reader with all my favorite titles, new and old, I just can't justify the expense.

I considered just buying e-books. They're quick and easy to find and I can delete the titles that aren't worth my time. But my Inner Frugalista screams at the idea of paying full-price for a bunch of binary.

Yes, I can rationalize that there are still expenses associated with the production of the e-book. Authors and artists need paying. The web monkeys who make the e-book programs need feeding. I understand, and it still feels like throwing money away.

The solution, I find, is to go the other way. Buy the paperback first.

Why? In the life of an average book I love I will buy it three times. One paperback, another paper back when the first is destroyed, and finally a hardcover when the second paperback dies. If I don't love a book enough to own three copies, the library always wants new books.

With the advent of e-books I have a simplier solution. Buy the paperback first. If I enjoy the paperback I can place the book on my shelf where it can add pretty to my collection (pretty is a noun here - think shiny from Frirefly...). Then I buy the e-book, the fabulous bits of binary coding that don't scuff, tear, fade, or fox.

If I don't like the book I donate the new-ish copy to the library and move on with life. If I'm not deleting a wasted e-book I'm not feeling guilty about wasting money. I'm donating to the library. That's practically the mark of a good citizen!

This also solves my angst over the whole Full-Price e-book, a retail model that I think the whole 99cent millionaire thing proves is a bad idea. I understand why publishers are doing the Full-Price model, I just think they aren't aware of the realities attendant to the sale of books at this moment in time. When I have all the numbers crunched to prove my theory there will be a full post on this subject.

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out just how long it will take me to stock my e-reader with all the titles I want to read. If I buy one book a week I might have everything I currently own on e-reader in... hmmm, ten years or so? Maybe a little longer?

Of course, in the course of a decade several hundred new books that I absolutely need to own will be published. If I win the lottery, I'll spend the money on books.


  1. You already know how I feel about the ebook pricing thing. :)

    All I can say is now that I have a contract with a publisher and see what royalties I get and how things break down, oy, I do understand why publishers charge what they do for ebooks. I don't think it needs any kind of justification at all. People think computer stuff should be free because it's not "physical." Hmmm, the same words are going into your brain no matter how you read it. You should pay a similar amount of money. I just think people are getting too cheap. There are still second-hand stores that sell PRINT books for 10 cents. So there will be 99 cent ebooks. The 10 cent stores have never brought down the prices of new books. Why should 99 cent ebooks? Gah.

  2. E-books schmebooks.

    If I win the lottery, I'm buying entire sections of bookstores and rooms to house those books.

    And a second set of those books to donate to the library. Philanthropy and all that, you know. :D

    Having a plan is always nice, isn't it? Makes you feel like you can accomplish what you want and still have time to feed the mouths pestering you for food and drink.

  3. Michelle - People are always cheap, sometimes they just get noisy about it!

    Stephanie - I like your plan!