March 2024
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TSS: Leaning towards ebooks

It feels as though, recently, the balance between acquiring ebooks and acquiring physical books has started to take shape in my house. I seem to acquire both, but distinctions are appearing regarding which books belong where.

I’ve actually physically run out of space for real books. I have four bookcases, two normal-size and two small-size. One of the normal size bookshelves is for books I’ve already read and intend to keep, while the other is for unread books. Both are full. One of the smaller ones is for hardcovers that I’ve read, or ones that I would like to read soon, and the other is for books I’d like to reread in the very near future, or series that I’ve liked a lot and want to see together all the time. All full. And I do keep buying books, when I get the opportunity. Having to move all of them, though, is a prospect that worries me, because it was difficult enough moving just the books I had a year and a half ago, and I know that when we do move again, which won’t be in the terribly distant future, all those books will present a problem.

This predicament has led to me buying more ebooks. If I want a book, and I’m not sure it’s a keeper, I tend to add the ebook to my wishlist, rather than the physical book. This is in part convenience, because I have made a rule for myself, which is that I do not buy physical books online, I only buy them in the store. I do buy ebooks online, obviously, as I have a Kindle, and I do buy US imports online, since I have no easy other way to get them, but I buy real, physical books in a real, physical store, because I want that store to stay there and buying cheap books from Amazon is not the way to accomplish that.

Anyway, back to my original point; in certain genres especially, I’m leaning towards ebooks quite heavily. Urban fantasy, for instance; the series take up space and my bookstore doesn’t tend to stock all of them at once. Romance, as well, because most of the ones I want are imports that aren’t on the shelves here anyway, and because I very rarely read them twice. Big books that are only available in hardcover? Ebook, to spare both my hands and unfortunately my wallet. This does lead to the interesting situation where I buy books twice, one ebook and one real book, because I like it so much I want to own it.

Leaning towards ebooks in any sense makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable, like I’m cheating on my masses of unread paper books. And reading an ebook doesn’t really confer the same satisfaction as taking a book off the shelves to read, so I actually find myself leaning towards reading physical books more often, where I can see a pile (temporarily) diminishing, even as I become more comfortable actually acquiring more ebooks. It’s a very strange situation that I can only imagine is going to evolve further.

Have you noticed a shift in your own preferences towards ebooks? Or away from them? Or do you still feel the same way you did when they first emerged onto the market? Let me know your thoughts!


13 comments to TSS: Leaning towards ebooks

  • I have three principal problems with eBooks at the moment. First, I have owned two dedicated eReaders and I really don’t ever use them. One I gave to my niece and the other (an early Nook) just sits here. Even though the reader is in clear sight, I never pick it up. Two is that because the titles / spines of the eBooks aren’t staring at me, I forget I have them and thus never remember to read them. I have a harder time perusing my collection, because the books aren’t there physically staring at me. And third, when I read — for pleasure, review, blogging, or professionally — I have gotten used to a system of flagging pages that have good quotes, information I might need for a review (characters’ ages, for example), or parts that I might want to discuss (review, book club).

    I think a tablet will likely solve the first and maybe the second problems. I would probably have a tablet in my hands often enough that I’d remember to look at my virtual book shelves. It’s the third problem that I haven’t found a good answer for. Yes, you can highlight or bookmark a page in an eReader but it takes time and pulls me out of the story. It’s not as seamless as simply reaching over for a Post-It flag while my eyes never leave the page. I could also take notes on paper, but that, too, takes me out of the story. Perhaps newer eBook apps have a tap highlight or something. I don’t know.
    Beth F´s last post …Weekend Cooking: Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever

  • I think there is a place for both in my life. I live by myself and don’t have space issues as of yet so as I like books as beautiful objects as well as the contents, I’m still leaning towards paper. For travel though, I will nearly always take my Kindle. It’s just easier to pack and means if I finish or don’t like my current book I have plenty more to choose from. But like Beth, out of sight is out of mind for the most part and I forget what’s on my ereader.

    I also find it easier to review a book with a pysical copy in front of me. I can flick through the pages, remind myself of characters’ names and look for pieces of text I want to quote. Yes I can underline them on the Kindle but if I don’t do it at the time, it’s so hard to go back and find things on an ebook! I also tend to forget the title or author when I’m reading an ebook. I like covers, they do serve purposes other than the initial sell!

    However, like you I am more likely to buy urban fantasy series in ebook form. Especially if I am trying them out or reading them as a bit of light entertainment.
    Ellie´s last post …Incoming!

  • I still prefer owning physical books, but something that has me leaning towards ebooks lately is this: I tend to use a lot of quotes in my reviews, and I hate, hate, hate how long it takes to type them up. Copying and pasting from an e-bool is so easy and convenient, and it just saves me SO MUCH TIME. Like, I put off reviewing certain books for months because I know I’ll have to spend an hour typing bits I want to use in my review. I keep daydreaming about a day when physical books will come with a download code for a digital version, kind of like vinyls or 7″ singles already do in music.
    Ana @ things mean a lot´s last post …The Sunday Salon – Bookish Q&A

  • I’m like Candace – I have 2 eReaders and never use either one of them. I haven’t really enjoyed the eBook experience and find that I don’t remember eBooks as well. I buy my physical books from a book store for the same reason you do. The store I go to has started selling Kobos and if you buy one from them, they get credit for every book you buy. But, if everyone does that, there will be no reason for them to exist.
    bermudaonion(Kathy)´s last post …At the movies: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

  • I am still mostly a physical book girl myself. I like the idea of ebooks, but when it comes down too it if I read a book I love, I want to have a physical copy of it. So when I’m buying books I want to read that I think I will love… I usually just buy the physical book and am done with it. Plus, I forget about ebooks when I buy them, so they just sit around.

    Also, I just in general find the idea that ebooks are not sharable or transferable really frustrating. Why am I going to pay, essentially, the price of a paperback when I’m not getting all of the “benefits” of a paperback book?

    I actually tend to buy more short (like, novella length) pieces as ebooks — Kindle Singles, that sort of thing — that aren’t available physically. I agree with what Ana said — I’d love it in the future if you could get both a digital and physical copy of a book for a reasonable price. I can imagine doing that a lot.

  • I go back and forth on the ebook thing. I really do love the fact that buying ebooks saves trees, eliminates carbon emissions from shipping, etc. Like others have already mentioned, though, when it comes to favorite authors, I generally buy a hard copy of the book. One of the other things that drives my decision re: physical vs. ebook, is, I admit, whether the ebook is on sale. I also own a Kindle, and Amazon does put some terrific books on sale, and if a book I want is less that $8.99 I’ll generally buy it. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, because where I once had a problem buying a lot of physical books and not reading them, now I find I am buying Kindle books and not reading them–but I also cannot see them.

    Like Ana and Kim mentioned as well, I would love if the price of a book included both the ebook and a physical copy. I for one would even be willing to pay a bit more.
    Priscilla´s last post …Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

  • If anything I buy more ebooks and about the same number of physical books since I started using an ereader. Due to storage space I have long had a habit of buying physical books that I think both The Hubster and I will read. If it’s something he wouldn’t be interested in, my first option was the library. I’m still a heavy library user but my ebook purchases have been more likely to be something I want to read that I don’t think he would.

    There are times that the ebook is on sale and it’s one we will both read or want for vacation so I got him an ereader and we share an account so that it’s easy to share the ebooks he wants to read.

    The other thing that I lean toward ebooks for is the chunksters. The big fat ones are just much easier to read in ebook format unless it’s a non-fiction with photos or diagrams (or one of those fat historical sagas with a family tree I need to keep looking at).
    SuziQoregon´s last post …Audiobook – A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

  • Meghan

    I love all of your different perspectives on this! I totally agree with Ana, Kim, and Priscilla that I’d love a book that also granted me the ability to read the ebook, and I would also pay a bit more for that. I do still buy plenty of physical books, as well; the shelves aren’t groaning any less. If I think I’ll love it, I will in fact just buy the real version (hardcover version of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance newly added to the shelves is a case in point).

    I also kind of agree with the not-seeing problem. I tend to go on streaks of reading several ebooks in a row, then several physical books. Whichever I’m seeing at the time, I’m more drawn to. But I also forget I own books in the second layer of the bookshelf, so at my volume of unread books, having a physical book doesn’t really help me with this problem!

  • Unfortunately I’m still not accustomed to reading from ebooks and I think a lot of it has to do with the physical book guilt! Like reading an ebook makes me feel guilty because of all the unread physical books.
    Amy @ My Friend Amy´s last post …The Sunday Salon: Just a Few Little Things

  • I tend to go through phases where all I want to do is read eBooks and all I want to do is read HIH copies of books. I think, though, it has more do with how fast I want/need the books to be read than anything else. I have a lot novellas on my Kindle (and free books), and when I feel the need to just start crushing through the TBR pile I tend to go to my Kindle. When I really want to curl up with a book and take my time I go to the physical books. :)
    heidenkind´s last post …Movie Review: ABOUT ADAM

  • I hadn’t really thought about this till I read this post. Great discussion. Like you I buy physical books from an actual bookshop while I get my ebooks off Amazon. Also like you I tend to lean towards ebooks when I’m trying something new out, because I’m not sure if the book will be a keeper. If I end up loving the book I will consider buying a real copy of it. As you said an ebook is just not as satisfying as picking a real book off the bookshelf.
    jessicabookworm´s last post …The Classics Club: November Meme

  • Since stores started closing I’ve made a concious effort to buy on the high street more so than I did before. I haven’t bought any ebooks yet because of DRM, but have considered it for publishers that give you the file without restrictions, they’d have to be cheap though. I think the fact that it was several years before I finally got some bookshelves adds to my preference, too. Netgalley and self-pubs mean that my reading is balanced where review copies come in, otherwise it’s physical books all the way.
    Charlie´s last post …On Book Reviews And The Comment Factor