Changes in my Book-Saving Habit

Today, I saw an interesting article on GalleyCat on how Mass Market paperback sales plunged in January. Hardcover sales dropped as well. And ebook sales “grew dramatically”. It made me think of how my reading habits–not only purchasing habits–have changed since I got my Nook.

We are contemplating moving to a smaller place, and in anticipation of that, we are decluttering. As a first step, I cleaned out my bookshelves. I now have about 15 plastic grocery bags filled with both fiction and nonfiction books, destined for either the used bookstore, the library, or the veterans, depending on who wants them.

I’ve cleaned out my bookshelf before. This time, I was brutal. Why? Because many books I had formerly designated as “keepers” are no longer so. Not because I never want to read them again. Because when I do want to re-read them, I’ll re-buy them for my Nook. Which equals a nice cha-ching for the author, assuming the books in question are available digitally. (For that reason, I kept all my Harry Potters.)

This is doubly true for classics. I kept many of my classics–especially ones I think my daughter will read one day–but I got rid of just as many, and I never got rid of my classics before. Why keep them when I can download them for free from Project Gutenberg?

I am not in a complete ebook paradise, however. Recently, I finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I went online, intending to buy digital copies of the next two books. Unfortunately, the ebook price is the same as the paperback. I find this perplexing. An ebook should be cheaper. Why? Because I don’t have all the rights with an ebook that I do with a regular book. The ebook is going to be encumbered with all this DRM, and it is going to be illegal for me to give it away. I was reluctant to pay the paperback price without having a paperback in hand, so I went to my local Borders and bought the next two books at a steep store-closing discount. I would have much preferred to buy it digitally, but I think in exchange for not having the rights that I have with the physical copy, I ought to get a decent discount. Pricing it the same as the paperback just annoys me.

But that seems to be the future of ebooks as more and more publishers are moving to what’s called Agency pricing. That’s where the publisher can set the price. This, I think, is only going to slow down the growth of ebooks. Is this the intention? I don’t know. Some publishers just seem to be fighting the inevitable. The public loves ebooks. They want ebooks. And I don’t think these artificial pricing structures are going to hold up. I’m just glad I was able to buy Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy before his publisher instituted Agency pricing.

Have you tried ebooks yet? I love reading on both my Nook and my iPod Touch. My Touch, especially is nice to read at night when my husband is trying to sleep. (And I still love that iFlow app!) If you have not tried ebooks yet, do you think you ever will? Are you just waiting for the readers to become really cheap (we’re getting there!) or do you just think you’ll always prefer real books?

25 Thoughts to “Changes in my Book-Saving Habit”

  1. Never thought I’d like e-books, but I was wrong. Change is hard, but I’ve now embraced e-books wholeheartedly!! I really like being able to have dozens of books at my fingertips in one light (lighter than a paperback) device! 🙂

  2. I JUST got a Kindle like a week ago, and I’ve been reading the final Steven Erikson Malazan book THE CRIPPLED GOD on it. I am a total bibliophile and love the physical aspect of books, pages, smell, feel, spines ect…

    …but I flat out love my Kindle. I will buy a number of books on it no question.

    I think authors like Sanderson, Erikson (I also bought the HC copy of TCG) Butcher ect…will still get physical purchases from me, but I think probably more than half my books in the future will be eBooks.

    I still want to have a nice library when I have a house of my own, so I think the plan now is to buy books, REALLY good books to populate that library, and have the rest on Kindle.

    1. Interesting idea, to use your Kindle to figure out which books to buy for your keeper shelf. I’m sort of doing the same thing in reverse!

  3. Since getting my Kindle last year, I’ve bought more e-books than paper books. It’s so much easier to download a sample and then buy the book if I like what I read. E-ink is very pleasant to read, and I feel like I can read faster on the Kindle than on paper. Even if I don’t, I can tuck my Kindle in my purse and bring it wherever I go, so I can sneak in extra reading time.

    1. I’ve definitely bought more ebooks. They feel easier to buy, somehow, but only when they are less expensive then the paperback or hardcover in question.

  4. I don’t think I’ll ever completely give up paper but since getting my nook I do check availability in ebook first. And I won’t ever pay more for an ebook than paper.

  5. Julie, I was just like you, not a year ago!

    Sherri, I’m totally with you on the price thing.

  6. Deborah Blake

    I still don’t have an ereader, although seeing my brother in-law’s color one when we flew out to CA in February came close to changing my mind. I may end up with a tablet instead… Although I am looking at the ipod Touch, too. Do you have any problem reading on the tiny screen?

    No matter what, I will always have paper books. They are just like comfort food.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I love reading on my iPod touch, especially since I got the iFlow app. I sideload my books through their website via an upload. I love being able to control how fast the text scrolls by simply the way I tilt it. The screen may be small, but when the text just flows on by it really doesn’t matter.

      I would love to get an iPad as well, but its just too pricey for me.

  7. JenM

    I was an ebook early adopter. I’ve had a reader since 2004 or so, long before the current crop came out. When I was younger, I moved frequently and I’ve always hated clutter so I never got in the habit of keeping a physical book collection. The final nail in the coffin for me regarding physical books was that I’ve got repetitive stress injuries in both wrists and I find it quite uncomfortable to hold a physical book open for any length of time, whereas my Kindle is a joy to hold and read from. If I had a choice I would would read nothing but ebooks.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I agree with the comfort point. I am reading a rather thick paperback and not only is it difficult to read, but I can’t turn the text size up! I’m so spoiled.

  8. I think with the costs of everything going up people are looking at squeezing every dollar and if they can get a book in ebook for and cheaper they shall spend on the ebook. I use to think I could not get rid of any of my books but the pile just got so big that I have had to start donating them or giving them away to friends to read.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      If I kept every book I ever read, I’d have a roomful. Frequent moves broke me of that habit as well, and we’re contemplating one more move.

  9. I still don’t have an e-book reader. I look at the cost. Then I look at the price of ebooks. (I don’t read many true classics, so I’d be paying for most ebooks.) Then I think about how many ebooks I’d have to buy to pay for the reader… and the fact that if I trade them to the used bookstore that recently re-opened, I’d probably get more credit from the bookstore than I’d get savings from the ebooks. No, I don’t think I’ll get a reader soon. {lop-sided smile}

    It doesn’t help that I’m concerned about book longevity, too. The things I’m willing to toss quickly on a regular basis, like newspapers and some magazines, aren’t currently available for ereaders. The books that are available are ones I don’t want a time limit on how quickly I decide whether to get rid of the thing or not. I don’t want a device failure forcing me to let go early. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Anne, I buy my books on my computer, so if something happens to my Nook, I still have my books. Plus, ebookstores generally keep a record of what you buy and enable you to redownload them.

      I understand your cost concerns, and I shared them until I realized that being an epublished author meant I’d better thoroughly embrace epublishing. So I did.

      1. I was less unhappy with ebooks when I discovered you could download them again in the case of device failure. However… how long will the publisher, author, and bookstore maintain their agreements? If any of them pull out or fold, you can’t download replacements anymore. {small smile} Maybe that’s not too likely in spans of months or a few years, but I’m trained in library and archival preservation, where we think of the life of a book in pterms of decades and centuries. On that scale, ebooks are ephemeral. {smile}

        I do recognize that having The Sevenfold Spell published as an ebook affects your view of them, Tia. I expect you to be more open and favorable to them than I am. I expect and hope we’ll continue to disagree about them for a long while to come. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Tia Nevitt

          We aren’t really in disagreement here. I see your points perfectly. When I submitted TSS, it was my first epublisher submission, so I really had to jump aboard the ebook bandwagon very quickly.

          My out of print contract is 7 years, but it only kicks in if my sales slow to a trickle. If I continue to sell books, it will likely stay in print.

          Regarding the ephemeral nature of ebooks–it’s not, not really. It exists in physical form because the data has to be stored somewhere. It is on the Google servers, the Amazon servers and a hundred other ebookstore servers. It is on the hard drive of everyone who bought my book, plus on each device that they installed it on. Pirates even have it. Every storage place equals a physical storage location. And it takes such an insignificant amount of space, there is no reason to ever delete it. Once it enters the public domain, it will become even more available.

          Unless society collapses, my ebook has a better chance of making it to future centuries than would a physical copy.

          1. I didn’t mean you’d lose every single copy of your book. Some should survive for centuries. I suspect some would even survive a bad solar storm, one way or another. Hopefully, some will even still be readable without a legacy computer maintained to read out-of-fashion formats. {Smile}

            However, how long an individual owner has or can replace their copy is more of a question. Will an individual reader’s access to replacement copies last as many decades as they live? That’s where I’m doubtful, expecially as a potential ebook adopter. How long will the copy I buy be available to me in a format I can read? Some will last the rest of my lifetime, but which ones? Since I don’t have a pressing need like frequent travel or a published ebook of my own, I’m mostly holding off. I’m hoping that my concerns will be answered by the time I feel I need to choose. {Smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

            1. Tia Nevitt

              I can see archeological computing being a valid field of study in the future. It would go all the way back to reading punch cards from the 70s and beyond.

              Your question about reading the ebook way in the future is one I have not thought of. I have PDF files from the 90s that I’m still able to read, thanks to backward compatibility. But in another decade or so? Would Adobe bother? I don’t know.

              1. I’m not sure what they’ll call it, but yes, you’re right. A professor warned me back in graduate school in the 1990’s “If you want to be able to use a computer program in ten years, don’t just save the files and the program. Also save a computer that can run it, and enough parts to repair the computer when it breaks down.” Because that’s the only way you can be sure you can use it. It could last longer than ten years, but how much longer? {lop-sided smile}

                This is a problem of any information storage that requires a machine to read the data. The longest-lived formats I can think of were 33 1/2 rpm records and 78 rpm records. 33 1/2’s lasted maybe 45 or fifty years. 78’s lasted around 40 years. Yes, I know 33 1/2’s are having a revival, but they’re now expensive and rare specialty items that you’re unlikely to run across unless you’re searching specifically for them. If you do run across them accidentally, that says something about the size of city you live near, or the type of website you check frequently. {Smile, wink}

                Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  10. The only ebook I’ve read is yours, Tia. I’m torn on getting a device. The screen looks small to me, and they’re not cheap, and I like being “unplugged” when I’m reading.

    Anne makes a good point about longevity, too, and I also hate the idea that the bookseller can delete books from your device. Just let them try coming to my house and “deleting” the hard copy books I’ve bought! I read somewhere that when you buy an ebook you’re essentially only buying a license to read. I’d prefer to buy a book, not a license.

    Maybe I’d change my mind if I got a device, and I can definitely see it for things I don’t care about owning/keeping.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Amazon made a huge mistake when it demonstrated that it could do forcible returns. They should have just paid damages to the author, just like a bookstore would have paid damages to the publisher for selling pirated physical copies.

      One of the reason I got a Nook was for my ability to buy books and upload them outside of Barnes & Noble. I have never bought an ebook from Barnes and Noble, although I have downloaded their free offerings. I buy them from other places and “sideload” them into my Nook through a USB cable. Most of the time, I have my Nook on airplane mode, which means no connection to the internet. I have no reason to ever connect it to the Internet.

      My favorite ebookstore is Diesel Ebooks. They have these book bundles that are a great value. Publishers are fighting back with their agency pricing schemes, but I really think they are fighting a losing battle. The market will be the ones who eventually set the prices, not publishers. Anything else is artificial and doomed. Their efforts to fight it are just making readers like you wary, and it is just slowing down progress.

      1. I agree it’s shortsighted of the publishers to force a pricing scheme. I’m already at the point where I think twice before buying a paperback due to the cost, and I never buy hardcovers. But if I converted to ebooks and found a bunch of books around $5 or under, I’d pick them up much more readily, so for me I guess that’s the ideal market price.

        But as long as ebooks are the same price as a physical book, I see no reason not to buy the physical book (or I just don’t buy at all, and everybody but me loses money).

        1. Tia Nevitt

          I’m totally with you. I only want an ebook if it is cheaper. If I am buying a restricted product, I should be compensated by paying a lower price.

          By the way, I’m honored that my book is the only ebook you’ve read! Thank you!

          1. It was my pleasure. 🙂

Comments are closed.