e-books and hard copy books: the difference between buying and reading

In case many ppl are simultaneously thirsty, a wall of drinking fountains.

I buy a greater number of books on my Kindle, but READ a larger percentage of purchased hardcopy books.

In terms of concrete numbers:
2012: 58 e-books purchased (11 read)
2011: 49 e-books purchased (10 read)

In contrast, I bought about 10 hardcopy books each year (not counting cookbooks), and read almost all of them.

My book buying habits bode well for the book industry if indeed they reflect a larger trend–buying an e-book can be done at any time of day, with nearly-instant gratification. When I was reading the Fifty Shades of Grey and Hunger Games trilogies, I found myself buying and downloading the successive books at three o’clock in the morning. And then barreling forward with my reading.

Or if I hear about a good book during conversation or while reading an author interview. Bam. Downloaded again.

So when is it that I buy a hardcopy? When the book isn’t available as an e-book (like Octavia Butler or many of Chuck Palahniuk’s books). Or as a collectible. When the writer is a friend. Or I want the book signed. I will also buy both an e-book and hardcover copy of a book if I want the book accessible to me while traveling and/or the hardcover gets signed and it becomes precious (e.g., when Toni Morrison signed my hardcover copy of Home).

Maybe the books I buy in hardcopy are the reason I read more hardcopy books, you think. That they’re my friends’ books. Or an author whose writing I’m already familiar and already love.

But inevitably for me, it’s the tactile sensation of reading. Turning an actual page. Hearing the page turn.

The Kindle has its various attractions for me–the aforementinoed instant gratification, and the fact that I can carry an entire library with me on a plane.

I have friends who say they read more on Kindle (and anecdotally, I’ve found these friends are mostly software engineers (including my husband) who might be more attuned to reading a screen)–but for the most part my social network says they too read more hard copy books.

Do you buy more books on Kindle/as e-books? Or as hardcopy books? Why? And which format do you find more readable?


Filed under Reading

7 responses to “e-books and hard copy books: the difference between buying and reading

  1. I am about 50/50.

    I like to be able to highlight and bookmark with ease then reference those highlights easily. I like having an instantly accessible dictionary, and I like that I can convert almost anything digital into a format that I can read on the Kindle. I like that I can carry around a TON of books.

    That being said, I do love the smell and texture of books. I like that when people read a paper book, you can see what it is they are reading. I take a certain amount of pride in showing off some books, that people can see the cover and go “That guy really likes terrible novels” or whatever they might be thinking.

    My own first novel didn’t feel “real” until it was on paperback, and I still prefer that version to the kindle version. I like that you can play with fonts and formatting easier with paper books. I didn’t really appreciate this until I read House of Leaves.

  2. i’m definitely buying more books now since i started kindling, but i’m also reading a lot more of them a lot faster. i have a few paperbacks that i’ve been in the middle of for quite a while, but it’s so much easier to just read what i have on the kindle app on my phone, which is with me all the time. i was actually surprised by this, b/c i too love the sensation of reading paper books, and i resisted ebooks for a long time.

  3. Alvin

    I don’t have a Kindle, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that I should get one. I forgot the amount of physical space hard copy books take, but seeing them out in the open is probably what guarantees they’ll be read.

  4. HerLetters

    I bought a Nook Color last year and purchased a few e-books.
    I’ve neglected reading in general, but when I do get the urge to read I search for a physical book.

    The Nook has been more of a cheap “tablet” for me. I have used it to read, but I’ve used it more for other tasks than actual reading. I think for me, the mistake was getting something that wasn’t a dedicated e-reader because that glaring screen just gets to me. Yes, I can adjust brightness amongst other things, but I still feel like I’m looking at a computer screen when I want to feel like I’m reading a book.

    Of course, I love that I actually get to see a cover in color, BUT I think the comfort of my eyes is more important than that. So yes, I agree e-books are convenient, but there’s just something about good, old fashioned physical books!

  5. Kindle books, definitely. I read on it, and I use it as a writing tool all the time. I catch more typos through Text-to-Speech than from anything else including beta readers. I also use it to take notes (and to make notes in drafts).

    Plus, most of my blog buddies don’t even bother to publish hard copy these days, so if I want to read their books, it has to be in e-book format.

    My current blog post is an interview with someone who made the opposite decision, though, I guess there are valid arguments on both sides. 🙂

  6. Meghan Ward

    The only time I buy hard copy books if if they’re reference books (CMS 16, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch) or books written by friends that I buy at their readings in independent bookstores. It’s true that I, too, buy ebooks that I never read, but I much prefer to read ebooks and am much more likely to read a book if I buy it as an ebook – because I can read it on my phone if I’m stuck waiting somewhere without my iPad and because I like to read at night in bed with the lights out.

  7. I usually read my Nook only when I travel. I read most books from the library, and I buy the book if I want it signed or if I know I want to read it multiple times and write in it.

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