I recently posted a video describing my new digital reading lifestyle and why what I’ve learned signals a very strong future for digital books. I’m very curious about people’s reading habits, as a book lover, a book seller, and a writer. This week, two other avid readers chimed in. I’m loving these accounts.
The first I’ll share is from Joanna Penn, whose blog is amazing, and who is one of the nicest and smartest people in all of publishing. You should definitely read what she has to say. There’s so much overlap with my habits that it leads me to think that the natural advantages of digital reading are going to continue to win over converts.
The other response I saw was from Rachel Eliason, who dubs herself a “Digital Expat.” Like Joanna, Rachel had the same storage issues many voracious readers experience. Like myself, she enjoys being able to fit her entire library of books inside her purse. Her reading habits and experiences with going digital are super informative.
I hope to see more of these. And it would be great to hear from the people who tried digital but gave it up, or who read print and say they’ll never go digital. My suspicion for a long time has been that the heaviest of readers are the ones who will end up going digital, as cost and physical space are major constraints. Not to mention the instant access to a near-complete list of what’s been published.
This transition may end up looking a lot like the music transition to digital downloads. It took a while for music studios to focus on their digital products ahead of their physical CDs. What changed was the money flow. When most of their profits came from digital, that became their focus. This was driven by customer behavior and new products and online retail spaces. iTunes and the iPod led to the closing of the previously ubiquitous music stores, which changed the focus of music producers. It also helped to partially democratize the music publishing scene.
The same is happening with books. The iPod and iTunes equivalent are the Kindle and Amazon. The effect on the physical product is going to be the same, as will the effects on the publishing industry. I think this transition will be slower, however. And there will be more resistance. For a few reasons:
• Music was already consumed digitally. Only the delivery format changed. Consumers already listened to music through their headphones, speakers, and car stereos, so they didn’t have to get used to a new interface. They just had to get used to where their music was stored and how it was accessed. Songs gradually replaced entire albums as the target of purchasing decisions.
• Music listeners had already dealt with a change in format (or a few). I’ve used records, 8-track, cassettes, CDs, MiniDisc, and radio prior to MP3s. Books haven’t changed much for over a century.
• There is more cultural status with reading than listening to music. Far fewer people read novels and books for pleasure than listen to music, but the cultural status of the former trumps the latter. There are dozens of programs aimed at increasing the number of people who read and few that focus similarly on music. Public libraries are one hint at this cultural significance. The previous fact (that books haven’t changed much) combined with this fact (that reading is highly regarded) has resulted in very loud objections to digital adoption from some quarters.
• The self-betterment effect is a very powerful drag on digital adoption. This is related to the point above (that everyone should read more, and reading makes you a more highly prized member of society). For many consumers, books are like exercise equipment. They are purchased with the hope of being used because of the future ideal or bettered self they represent. And then they sit around. Related to this and the point above are those who have shelves full of books that they’ll never read but that they like having around them, especially for others to see. Digital adoption will never satisfy these cravings, and I think some of the loud objections to digital adoption come from these sorts of shoppers.
A decade from now, the reading landscape will look very different than it does today. I think we’re in the original iPod phase of adoption. The iPhone of reading hasn’t been invented yet. When MP3s first became popular, music purists went nuts over the lack of quality. Many still do. But consumption advantages (price, storage, availability, selection) trumped any of those concerns. I think we’ll see the same pattern for digital reading adoption. It may be slower due to the reasons listed above, but the results will be similar. In fact, digital adoption rates are already far higher than publishers admit, something we’ll look at in the next Author Earnings report.
52 replies to “More Reading Habits”
I read online now and I didn’t do any of that five years ago. I read fewer paper books now, which means I’m reading less fiction. Everything I know about writing and publishing came from online reading.
As a writer, I was adverse to the idea in the beginning. Now I probably read 70% digital 30% hard copy. I’ll often read the digital first and if I like the book, I’ll buy the hard copy. Sometimes I’ll do the opposite -mostly because whatever I’m reading is long and I’m too lazy to hold the book over my face ( dropped a few large books in my day right on my nose). 1Q84 is a good example of this. I’m surprised publishers haven’t started offering combo purchasing. Buy the hard copy, get a free digital version. Perhaps that will come soon. Great post!
I agree with everything you said about this. On that note: I loved the Silo series and was just wishing I had a hard copy of those!
For indie authors who publish print books through CreateSpace and e-books through KDP, there is an option called “Kindle Matchbook” that allows the author to offer the e-book free (or at a lower cost) to anyone who’s purchased the print edition.
That option is actually available to traditional publishers too. They can offer the ebook at free, $0.99, $1.99, or $2.99 to anyone who’s purchased the print edition from Amazon.com–provided the Kindle Matchbook price is 50% or less than the non-promotional ebook price.
So not only is it trivial to offer readers a free or discounted copy of the ebook, Amazon applies price pressure to ensure that publishers offer a significant discount.
And damn you, autocorrect for making my averse, adverse!
Ah, a true writer. Who CARES about words being correct.
I caught that one, forgot to think of autocorrect possibly being at fault, downgraded the WRITER for not knowing the difference, saw your correction, gave you all kinds of thumbs up.
Some readers care. A lot.
The major difference between music and books is how they are consumed. Reading is something we must actively do. Music can be background to other activities.
One other, more subtle difference is, I think, the perceived value of the artists in each field. People appreciate singers and musicians more than writers because not everyone can sing capably or play an instrument, but nearly everyone can “write”. The general populace perceives the hard part of writing as coming up with the stories (where do you get your ideas?!), while writers rarely ever say they lack ideas for stories. Executing those ideas is the difficult part, which the general populace doesn’t seem to comprehend.
Personally, I relate it to the sport of soccer (football to the world outside the US). People who’ve never played the game generally find it boring to watch. “It’s just people kicking a ball. I can do that.” Until you’ve actually played the game a bit and understand just how hard it is to make that round bit of leather or vinyl go where you want it to, your appreciation for the sport is incomplete.
I’ve always mixed digital and paper. I prefer digital but I read on tablets and phones and the reading experience (glare, battery life, eye strain) aren’t ideal and I get annoyed over device-specific purchases. I resisted the Kindle because of the closed nature of the ecosystem and because I’ve held on to some prejudices against Amazon environment from my working life. But after all the talk on writing and publishing blogs about the Kindle ecosystem being the best for writers, I wanted to experience it from a readers perspective and just bought a Kindle Paperwhite. I know I’m way behind the times on this but after only a couple of days with the Kindle, I see that I can buy books, borrow them from the library, and share/upload non-protected books all on one device. I can see a path to an all-digital reading experience.
Thanks for mentioning the post, Hugh :) We are also similar in our ‘small footprint’ approach to stuff in general, which I believe is becoming more common in the Millennials. I often think I am a closet Millennial in the way I behave as opposed to a Gen X’er. By not collecting stuff (we rent pretty much everything), being digital fits my lifestyle – as I imagine it fits yours – especially with your goal to get back on the boat sometime!
Happy reading 2015!
In July 2010 I completely switched to digital and I’ve been tracking my progress since then:
My first two years with ebooks
My first three years with ebooks (includes a link to a free ebook I wrote to tell how I got started with ebooks and digital reading)
From paper to digital: my first 4 years with ebooks
Some additional notes:
* I buy a book ONLY if I can start reading it within days of the purchase, and read virtually all the books I buy
* I do very many short reading sessions (eg a few minutes/a few screens) during the day, especially if I’m using a smartphone
* I mostly read 2 books at a time, a nonfiction book and a fiction one
I confess to being a throwback. I have trouble getting into books (novels) that are on a screen. I lose interest somehow. There must be a tactile component to my lifetime of reading that digital doesn’t address. I’m impressed with the idea (and reality) of being able to carry half a ton of books on an airplane, but somehow that doesn’t offset the joy of a print book. But then I also enjoy waiting for it to arrive in my mailbox (no decent bookstores are within two hours drive of me) and reading the back of it. I like too many facets unique to the print world to make the transition… with regard to fiction, I’ll reiterate.
I’m still in the transition phase–a mix of print and digital. Ebooks have many advantages over print books. But there are the two drawbacks that keep me from going fully digital yet:
1. WHERE AM I? When I’m reading a book, I like to know how big the book is, how much I have read, and how much is left. With a physical book, I always know where I am from the thickness. With ebooks, I just see the current page. I might be in the middle. I might be at the end. I never know. Yes, I could tap and look at the page numbers and figure it out. But there’s no visual cue as to where I am. I find this very annoying.
2. BROWSE. I can thumb through a physical book in seconds, scanning a page here and there to get a sense for what the book is about, how deep it gets into the subject, whether it gets more technical over time, and so on. Browsing an ebook is slow and clumsy.
Both these issues can be addressed by a better designed ebook reader. I have a younger brother who is a computer scientist. He has fully migrated to ebooks, but has similar complaints about the ebook experience. So he is building an ebook reader app that fixes these problems. If you have any thoughts on how to improve the ebook reading experience, please let me know and I’ll pass it on to him.
Are you by any chance using a non-Kindle e-reader? On the Kindle device, your progress is shown at the bottom of the screen at all times as a percent. A narrow horizontal bar shows the number (such as 44%) and darkens the portion of the bar between 0 and your current location in the book. In addition, there are tick marks on the bar that represent chapter breaks. Clicking one of the controls will move your position to the start of the next chapter, allowing you to move rapidly through the book. It’s not the same as thumbing through a physical book, but it’s much better than having to navigate one page at a time.
The Google Play Books app also provides a reading progress slider. It also has a filmstrip-like interface for book browsing with page previews.
CLS and Paolo:
I use the Kindle app on phones and tablets. More recently, I’ve started using a Kindle Voyage as well. Generally, when I’m on a page, there are two small numbers displayed at the bottom: 12 min left in book, 8%. If I touch the screen, the progress bar appears and shows me visually that I’m at 8%. The progress bar is useful, but it still has two deficiencies for me: 1. I don’t see it in normal reading. I have to tap for it to appear and I seldom do that in the middle of reading. 2. Even when it’s there, the slider only shows only shows how far along I am in percentage terms. There’s still no visual cue as to how big the book is. Am I 8% of the way through a 30 page novella or a 500 page tome? Yes, I can look below the slider and read that I’m at page 13 of 280, but it’s the constant visual cue that I miss. I always feel a bit disoriented when I’m reading an ebook.
Browsing is basically there. It’s just a matter of speed. Still much quicker and fluid in a physical book, but I have no doubt that this will change over time with faster processors and better software.
Advantages of having a Kindle:
#1 – can buy books from anywhere in the world. For someone like me, who is currently living in Beijing (where English-language books are very expensive), and who travels a lot, this is very important.
#2 – a Kindle weighs less than most books and takes up less space. Very important when travelling.
#3 – a Kindle is backlighted, which means I can read without additional lighting. This is important to me, since my wife often goes to sleep before I do.
Disadvantages of having a Kindle:
#1 – I don’t actually own the books I buy. I can’t lend them to friends easily, nor can I re-sell them or donate them to the library when I’m done with them. Amazon can delete them from my Kindle anytime they choose.
#2 – I’m still paying for books, which is more expensive that my other reading method, i.e. checking books out from the library. Although I can check books out for my Kindle, it’s difficult and time-consuming.
What I really want is the ability to “rent” ebooks….either than or to have full ownership of books that I buy. Paying money for something that has no utility to me once I’m finished with it (since I can’t re-sell it or give it to someone else) is less than ideal.
“Like myself, she enjoys being able to fit her entire library of books inside her purse.”
Not sure if that was a funny quirk of grammar or a reference to the bit from your reading video, but I still got a laugh out of it. :D
I’d say that voracious readers have very few barriers to adoption. We know we’re going to save a lot of money, we know we can finish a book, buy a new one, and start reading it all within five minutes from our beds at night. We know we can carry all of them with us all the time. I think it’s the casual readers that are going to face the biggest barriers to adoption.
Ereaders haven’t been cost effective for causal readers (until now). Even then, if they’re just going to buy one book a year, a hardback is still cheaper. Why buy (yet another) device that won’t pay for itself for a couple of years?
Another barrier for casual readers is the need to learn a new app. In the case of ereaders, it’s the need to learn a whole new device. That’s a proven barrier to adoption of all kinds of technology, and it’s probably a lot worse for adopting ebooks. There’s a pretty steep curve between knowing how to use a book (open it) and how to use an ereader/app.
I think the biggest barrier for casual readers is that their ebooks aren’t furniture. They can’t line their shelves with them, can’t put them on their coffee tables. For these folks, finishing a book is a notable event. They want the artifact.
But no one needs to buy an ereader, I do most of my reading on my iphone even though I have a kindle. Almost everyone has phones now that can run the kindle app.
That’s why I mentioned learning a new app in the next paragraph.
The music analogy is misleading. I’ve made far more money in my 30s selling books than I did in my 20s playing in a band (fwiw, I also previously worked at Rhapsody, and now work at a small ebook company that starts with an A and has a Z somewhere in the middle).
Alan is spot on above with his observation of the vast differences in the consumer UX for listening to music versus reading books. However, I disagree with his assessment of the value proposition. Lots of people play music, and lots of people write; only those who are really good at either are successful; but more writers are making more money than musicians. More to the point, which metrics back up: Customers pay for books and expect music to be free. The key for books is in the inherent expectation that spending upwards of ten solid, uninterrupted and focused hours on a singular product (a novel) is a worthwhile endeavor (at least 3 bucks worth).
The same can not be said for music. It is nearly impossible to make money as an indie artist (unless you have mad youtube skills, and even then I’m not sure how much money you can actually make unless your name is OK Go). Some of this is due to the anachronistic grip of the music industry, but a lot of it (the majority, I would argue) is due to consumers not perceiving value in music.
In other words, books are rad.
As for the original question, the day I long-pressed on a big word in a printed book to find its definition was the last day I used a printed book. Digital for life.
It would be interesting to see a “Musicians’ Earnings” report somehow (Data Guy, get on that, would you? ;-) ) to see if your supposition is true. It may very well be. My feeling is the cost of entry for musicians is higher than writers which would skew the results.
That said, your comment about people expecting music to be free is spot on with the Internet as a whole. I know a number of people who claim they will “never buy a book again” because of all the free offerings out there. Music (i.e. one song) doesn’t have the perceived value of a book because of length I would guess. Yet, there are still plenty of free books out there too.
It’s possible we have all contributed to the lack of perceived value in the arts by the economy of scale. The world is so big and has so many artists, with their works being easily accessible, that all art has lost some value.
Alan, your point re: economy of scale devaluing art is a really interesting one. I think you’re right. I’d love to see a study on this. Art is becoming communal (as it was originally?).
It’s possible we have all contributed to the lack of perceived value in the arts by the economy of scale. The world is so big and has so many artists, with their works being easily accessible, that all art has lost some value.
Sure. Increase supply, and price falls. It happens everywhere with all kinds of goods. Happens over and over again.t
I bought an ereader as soon as they were released in New Zealand, and bought my first Kindle a year later (when Amazon finally started shipping them here). Probably 90%+ of my book reading is now on my Kindle. The exceptions are second-hand paperbacks to read in the spa pool (I think you Americans call it a Jacuzzi), and certain non-fiction books (e.g. dictionaries, textbooks), although I LOVE the built-in Kindle dictionary and use it all the time.
I much prefer the Kindle to “real” books. It’s lighter, I can make the font size bigger, and I can start reading another book as soon as I’ve finished the first … and no one notices.
10 years ago when I moved I had to tug along 45 milk crates full of books, when I moved 3 years ago I already had a kindle and had replaced half of the hard copies, most of the rest I gave to the library. Now I am down to maybe 50 hard copies, mostly classics, and a thousand ebooks. Those classics will never go away, and still today I occasionally buy a hard copy, especially if it is something i will study like books on writing, but the vast majority is ebooks. The only time I prefer the ebook is when it costs too much, it is cheaper to buy a used hard copy on Amazon.
As much ereading as I do, it still isn’t as easy as pulling a book off the shelf, I do not think hard copies will ever go away, they are too easy to hand off to new people and look so darn good on the shelf.
I decided to jump into this meme as well and write up my own post if you’re interested in more reading habits. Thanks for starting this! http://www.spajonas.com/2015/01/12/reading-habits/
“10 years ago when I moved I had to tug along 45 milk crates full of books, when I moved 3 years ago I already had a kindle and had replaced half of the hard copies, most of the rest I gave to the library. Now I am down to maybe 50 hard copies,”
This was me for several moves, in and out of the military, over two decades. I probably had a thousand lbs of books in dozens of boxes (never had enough shelf space for all I owned) and refused to ever give up even one. My wife likes books just fine but has never been an avid reader. She had probably a dozen books she’s kept over the years versus my thousands. And I’ve been a Kindle/phone only reader for about three years now, during that time I’ve picked up another dozen or two print books that I still haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I was on a ship deployment for six months, bought a few paperbacks with me and they remained unread.
Feel of paper, admiration of bindings, sense of ownership…at one time I would have said these were important but I care less about them everyday. But I can probably count on one hand the number of books I’ve read more than once in my life. There’s too many great books I know I won’t live long enough to read so I rarely go back to a book twice. I know a lot of other people aren’t like that so they may feel differently.
What I do is fill up a large bathtub with green jello and then put Ravel’s Bolero on the stereo and… wait, we were talking about reading?
Let me comment as a person who suffers from dyslexia and always views reading as a chore. On the other hand, I also have ADHD and so I get interested in all sorts of things and I used to buy books about them. But after filling up all my shelves, I made a vow about ten years ago to stop buying books that I probably wouldn’t finish.
That held until about two years ago when I was playing with my iPad (I wasn’t interested in Kindles) and decided to download some free books on both iBooks and the Kindle app. What they heck, they were free.
I never read them. But it was nice to know I had them, and they didn’t take up space. But, once I knew how easy it was, and I didn’t have the shame of looking at a book I would never read, I started downloading (and purchasing) some books that I actually did read. (And a lot that I didn’t.) Some I scan through or read partially. I’ve spent more on ebooks in the last year than I did in the previous ten years (during my self-imposed book ban).
So, once again, free leads to paid. Recently I broke down and bought an actually Kindle (hey, I have all these books, right?) and I find it much easier to read on the Paperwhite screen. I don’t know if that has something to do with my dyslexia or not, but it’s much more pleasant to read on.
Also, in terms of the “self-betterment effect” while there are some people that might like having books on the shelves to tell people they’re a reader, there are also people that get discouraged by that and are more likely to enjoy the unlimited space of having ebooks.
From the day I got my first PDA many years ago I’ve been mixing paper and digital. I still love everything about paper books, from the touch and smell, and do find them easier on my eyes for long bouts of reading. I also like not having to worry so much if an old book gets a little wet in the bath or at the side of a pool versus getting my phone or tablet wet.
I do however love being able to find and download books that have long been out of print when their copyrights expire, without having to hear my wife complain about the musty smell I brought back with my from the old used book store. I love being able to checkout a book from my library’s ebooks and download to my phone or iPad with a click of a button, or buy from Amazon and do the same. I love being able to have at any one time (especially when travelling) 100 books I haven’t read yet in my pocket, with thousands more available just an internet connection away.
Since I’ve never been able to justify adding more square footage at home for the sake of an exhaustive personal library, my personal collection of paper is out of necessity limited to those books that I need, the ones I’ve loved so much I want to be able to go back and turn their pages once again, or out of the hope that my children will one day love the old westerns and scifi that made my imagination soar when I was their age.
I have a feeling that one day they will end up relegated to a heap on a garage sale table or on a donations shelf at the hospital, but that has not yet come to pass. :-)
I’m probably 75-25 digital to print. I love being able to download a book and start reading it immediately. And to read on my phone when I find myself stuck in a line somewhere. On the other hand, there is a Barnes & Noble in my town (with a Ben & Jerry’s concept store — ice cream/Peet’s coffee shop — right next door). It’s a small town and there is no way not to drive past it all the time, and I am incapable of driving past it all the time and never going in. There are books inside! They call to me! :-) I enjoy browsing the stacks and invariably I walk out with a few print books and magazines. If I didn’t live near this store, I would probably be 100% digital.
For me, age and eyesight made the difference. Once I needed glasses to read, my time spent reading diminished. Since I rarely used glasses otherwise, I was constantly misplacing them and it was just to much of a hassle. Now that I can read digitally that has all changed as I am in charge of how the print looks. The ability to take my library with me wherever I go is an added bonus as I hardly ever read just one book at a time.
I’ve been an avid and insatiable reader since I was tall enough to stagger out of the Library with a stack of books. Once I got out of school (circa 2000) and started working, the Library just didn’t work for me anymore. Although I read fast, the due dates weren’t compatible with my work schedule. That was when I discovered used book stores. Why used and not new? Because there was always a larger, and deeper, selection of books at the used shop. I still love used book stores, or stores like Powell’s in Portland, OR, which have a mix of new and used on the shelf, but I also read a ton of books on Kindle (or the Android Kindle app) now.
Here’s the breakdown on my last books:
– Leviathan Wakes: paper, new from Powell’s, based on staff recommendation
– Caliban’s War: Kindle
– Abbadon’s Gate: Kindle
– Ancillary Justice: Kindle (based on recommendation in device)
– Ancillary Sword: Kindle
– Altered Carbon: Kindle (based on recommendation in device)
– Broken Angels: Kindle
– Woken Furies: Kindle
– Chasm City: paper, purchased by friend
– Ready Player One (paper)
I don’t enjoy books on paper any less, but I can consume a lot more digitally. The 2 things that I find annoying about digital is that the cover art is almost inconsequential, and that I can’t really loan a book to a friend anymore. The cover art is is the bigger problem because it used to factor heavily into my purchasing decisions. As far as loaning the book out, if it’s really good, I end up buying it on paper anyhow and giving it away.
Oh, and related to the cover art problem, if the book contains illustrations, or graphics needed to convey some nuance. digital stinks. I still buy technology and music books on paper and don’t see that changing.
PS – Loving the Wool omnibus btw. Great story.
I’d say most of my reading is electronic, whether on my Kindle or iOS device. I have two main exceptions: classics and French books.
As for the classics, I find the Kindle (and Kindle app) lacking, considering there are often a lot of footnotes in classic novels. Case in point: I’m nearing the halfway point of The Brothers Karamazov and I can easily flip to the notes at the end of the book without losing where I am in the novel. This is key because there are a lot of linguistic, cultural, and historical items that require explanation. The Kindle doesn’t have a good way to do this.
Because I reside in Australia, I can’t get French Kindle books from the Amazon.fr site, much as I would like to. So, for all the reading I do in French, I have to buy the actual books.
If the two above issues get solved, then I’ll go 100% digital.
I love my Kindle, but still can’t understand why if I buy more books it doesn’t get any heavier. All those bits and bites have to weigh something, right? Really, what I want to know is when you hit the hard drive limit on a Kindle, does Amazon send you another one for free or does it just blow up? I must be pretty close to finding this out by now because I’m lucky if I can read one book per month for every two new books I read each week. I know, I have an addiction.
Seriously, I cannot imagine reading books any other way except on a Kindle. I once bought an ebook version of a hardback I already owned, just cause it was easier to read that way (not to mention lighter). I have an iPad that I use all the time; I even do some of my writing on it when I’m at the beach or when I don’t want to wake my wife. But, when it comes to reading, I only read books on the Kindle.
Is there some sort of 12 step program I can join?
Must be getting tired. I meant to say, “I’m lucky if I can read one book per month, but I purchase two new Kindle books each week.”
Sorry gotta go now, my BookBub newsletter just arrived.
[…] More Reading Habits | Hugh Howey […]
I read on my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s far superior to the unlit Kindle I used to read on. I tend to read two books at a time. So a few chapters of one book then a few chapters of another. I feel this keeps my daily reading interesting and diverse. My biggest problem is that I love writing too much and any time spent reading could be spent writing (so many books, so little time). I really enjoy the stuff you write Hugh….thanks!
From the time I got my first Kindle in February, 2009, I have purchased very few paper books. Like many others who have commented here, I simply didn’t have the room for any more (I still have an overflow stack of books on the floor in addition to the numerous bookcases in the house), I almost never part with a book, and I love being able to take dozens of books with me on vacation to read on a handheld device.
About the only paper books I read these days are those from the library. Since Big Publishing insists on exorbitant e-book pricing, I borrow the ones I want to read but which are priced above $5. I also listen to library audiobooks in the car.
I read on my phone occasionally, but it’s mostly when I’m waiting in line somewhere. I love the Kindle apps for PC and Mac (I have the former at work and the latter at home), and do a fair amount of reading via one of those. My Kindle is one of the e-ink models, and it has a case with a built-in light. I love that I can read my Kindle in bright sunlight or in a darkened room.
In the early days of having a Kindle, I downloaded LOTS of free e-books, and purchased only a few. I thought paying $9.99 for a new release rather than $25 for a hardback and not having to go to the bookstore was awesome, but I still didn’t buy a lot at that price. For each of the first 5 years of Kindle ownership, I paid money for an average of 15 books per year and downloaded quite a few free books. The average price I paid in the first two years (2009-10) was nearly $6; in 2011-12, it was down to just over $5; and in 2013 it was $3.64. But in 2014 alone, I paid money for 53 books, and the average price was $2.21. Granted, a few of those were 99c boxed sets, but even so, the average has come down because I’m now reading so many indie books. Big Publishing has lost my business entirely, except for the occasional item they offer for $2.99 or so.
I was someone who swore I’d never go digital… until I did. I still buy hard copies of my favorites. But the ability to read things on my Kindle has rekindled (haha, no pun intended) my love of reading. Not having to lug books around, not to mention instant gratification of downloading a book to read, has opened up a whole new world of reading to me.
I love reading paper books. I love the feel of them in my hands and the sense of wonder they evoke that goes all the way back to when I was a kid and discovered the worlds of imagination hidden within books and libraries. It’s a kind of mesmerizing mystique I have no desire to rouse myself from.
I’ve traveled all over the world. I accumulated a fair-sized library of books when I lived for fifteen years in Greece but haven’t figured out how to get them all here. I have accumulated more books moving from city to city since I returned to the States. If I have to sell books I sell them, but if I can I keep them.
Right now I’m living in a small apartment, but if I could buy a home I’d make sure it had an old-fashioned office/library. I have nothing against e-books. Most of my books sell as e-books. I own a Kindle, though my sons took off with it to use it for games and video streaming and I know not where it is. But I don’t buy books frivolously. When I buy one I intend to read it. I keep the stack of unread books in a special place beside my bed, devour them one by one, and afterwards spit out reviews on my website. Call me old-fashioned and I won’t take offense. I read online or on my Kindle from time to time, but when I pick up a real physical volume in my hands I feel all of literary history and the minds that have created it behind it and within it.
I recently got a Kindle and I must say that I love it. It’s funny, because I thought I would hate it since I’m always championing the use of physical books, but the convenience of using the Kindle and storing so many books on it, it’s just too good.
I love my Kindle and have been thinking about Kindle Unlimited. Is it worth it? Will I have access to the majority of new books?
I don’t think I’d last without ebooks nowadays. I’ve moved around a bit and couldn’t be bothered paying for moving them any more. Also with the cheaper cost of ebooks from some great writers I read so much more than I ever used to
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[…] More Reading Habits from Hugh Howey: A short discussion about the print vs digital habits of readers, and what it might look like in the future. […]
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