Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ramble: Books and E-Books

I own seventeen e-books. (And how do you spell and punctuate that word?!)

On principle, I disapprove of e-books. The fact that my copy of the book will go away when the technology goes away, the fact that I can't bring them to the used bookstore, the fact that I can't lend them or only lend them so many times, the fact that some books could go to a pure e-book publication and that when those books go out of copyright they could be flat-out lost forever. All that is bad.

But I downloaded the Kindle reader for Mac and for my phone, and bought a cheap out-of-copyright e-book to play with them with. And then I bought another e-book at a moderately discounted price. And then I bought one at the ridiculous (given the extremely low per-unit cost for e-books) full price.

And now, a few months later, I have seventeen of the things. Three technical, two how-to, one self-help, one reference, five novels, three biographical nonfiction, two "other nonfiction."

So I disapprove of them, but I have seventeen, and I'm reading more than I was before, and reading relatively new books (which I rarely did before), and authors are making more money from me than before, because I used to mostly buy used books. So, well, maybe it's not such a bad thing. Except financially, for me. Well, and for my local bookstore. Eep.

My original plan, as much as it could be detected mixed in with my denial that I was buying e-books at all, was to restrict my electronic buying only to those books that I don't want to own permanently in paper form anyway. There are a lot of these. The shelves are full, and while I never actually want to get rid of any book, most books must go, promptly after I've read them. Or if they stay, something else must go. Turning my head left and right, I see two stacks, representing about fifteen books, that are destined for the used bookstore. And that's just what hasn't been boxed yet.

Come to think of it, fifteen is almost the count of what I've read for the 100+ Reading Challenge. So given that some of my 100+ books were electronic, and assuming that I actually drag myself to the used bookstore, I'm more than keeping up with one book in, one book out. Yay me!

Um. Where was I? Oh, yes. The e-book versus paper judgement has failed three times, which is a rather high rate. I bought Betsy Lerner's Forest For The Trees (one of the "other nonfiction", about writing, though there's plenty of biographical stuff in there too) in e-book form, and I liked it so much that now I want it permanently.

I should have learned my lesson, but, no, I just downloaded and finished her Food and Loathing, and while I'm letting my impressions settle out before I rush to spend more money, I think I'll want a paper copy of that one, too. I think that my recent post about writing while grumpy/cranky/angry reminded me of Betsy Lerner and sent me looking for her latest book--while Forest For The Trees wasn't all that grumpy, her blog often is, and so is Food and Loathing, and I love her writing, grumpy or non. It makes me wonder if, like it or not, I should grab a keyboard when I'm gnashing my teeth and see what comes out.

And I'm in the middle of Dominique Browning's Slow Love, and judging from my fondness for two of her other books (Paths of Desire and Around the House and in the Garden) I'm also going to want that in paper form. (As a side note, I find myself wondering if I should email to the author that her website makes it impossible to link to a single specific book. Would she care?)

So, really, I have no grounds for claiming surprise in the last two cases. Frankly, I just wanted the books and I wanted them now, so I downloaded them.  I tell myself that I'm supporting the author. And the publisher--I have no problem supporting publishers either, I'm just more excited about supporting the authors. And by buying the things a second time on paper, I can even ease my guilt about the local bookstore, because I can order them there. So, really, everybody but my pocket wins. That'll have to be good enough.

Roundup: Kindle review from All I Am - A Redhead.

Image: By Andreas Praefcke. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Kindle app?

    Booooooo.....*soft boo, because I like you*

  2. I know, I know, I'm _bad_! Do I get any points back after I order the paper copies from the local bookstore?

  3. I am firmly against digital books. Firmly.

    I downloaded the Kine app to humor my husband. I now have Turin and Sanchez's book in e-version. It's because it's a reference. Ahem. So far, that's it though I will download free copies of The Classics... there are some great ones there!

  4. I am obviously a hoarder as I cannot part with my books. Once I buy them, they are mine for life and I don't want to let them go (well, actually, I can't let them go, I form bonds with them). It's been a serious phobia of mine that a fire might destroy my books.
    I have a Kindle now and I'm enjoying it and I don't really consider the fact that the technology will go away and my book as well - it's in there (and there's plenty of place for others) so even if technology goes well beyond where we are now, they will stay where they are, as I don't plan on deleting them.

    The fact that I can't let go of my real books is one of the reasons I decided to get a Kindle, so I'd save on space.
    But I will still buy books from my local bookstore - it's just a point of what is cheaper where and how soon I need it.

  5. Hey, jen! Yeah, I could see if I could redirect my new, wrong, evil Kindle addiction to the public domain books...

  6. Yo, Ines! That sounds like a very good reason for getting a Kindle. I used to be much more attached to my books; I'm not sure what broke the attachment.

  7. Give yourself a'll have 90 of em. Trust me, you are singing my old song. My new song is, I love my kindle.

  8. You really are a great writer! I love reading your stuff! I'm glad that I stumble to your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts to us. Keep posting.

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  9. Me too. I love love love my books, but it's just so much easier to use the Kindle app on my phone when I'm riding the bus with a 300lb backpack full of work stuff. So much lighter to take on the plane. So much easier to whip out at the doctor's office when he's "just going to be another few minutes". *sigh*

  10. hey i just found your blog. :) although i can appreciate the immediacy factor you get with the e-books there's something eerily sterile about the paperless book...without marks or ceases or coffee stains i just can't do it

  11. E-books create a new twist in learning and it brings convenience that most people will really value.

  12. Yo, Jen! Hee. We'll see. Actually, now that I've settled into living in one place, I might actually go back to the (gasp) library. I love libraries, but haven't made much use of them in the past few years

  13. Howdy, trashmaster! Yeah, I agree. I suspect that I am going to keep one book on my phone most times, for those times when I went out without a physical book. More than that? I can't decide.

  14. Yo, violently! Yeah, I see your point. The e-read books just don't feel as thoroughly read, somehow.

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