How e-reading changes reading habits – a testimonial

On Posterous, blogger Diego Basch writes about how the Amazon Kindle has changed his reading habits. It’s an interesting testimonial on how e-readers can change the way we interact with our books.

As a result of having plenty of unread books on his Kindle, Basch now finds he doesn’t watch TV anymore—there isn’t ever a time when he no “next” book to keep him from watching something on the tube. He also finds that he goes through books a lot faster than he used to because he can also read them on the Kindle app on his computer or his phone. He writes that whether a book is available for Kindle influences his decision on what to read next, and is seeing printed books as deadweight. He also reports that the Kindle is so cheap now that he sees it as a “physical app”—he’ll use it until it breaks and order another one without a second thought.

And he had some comments on piracy as it relates to e-books and consumer desire:

I don’t pirate books unless there’s absolutely no alternative. An ebook typically costs $5 to $15. I’m going to spend hours reading it, and I value my time highly. I also value the enjoyment I expect to get out of the book. With Amazon’s one-click delivery to my Kindle, paying for it is a no-brainer. The only reason to pirate a book is when I want to read it NOW and nobody sells an e-version. I’ll spend a couple of minutes searching for an "unofficial" e-copy. If the quality is acceptable, I’ll read it. Publishers please take note: printed books are going the way of CDs. I have bought mp3 albums a few times in the past year; I have no idea when I bought music in a physical container for the last time.

It seems to me that this attitude is becoming more and more common—that people will buy e-books when they can, but will find them elsewhere when they can’t buy them, and feel justified in doing so. Leaving aside the morality of the matter, which has been rehashed countless times already, this does suggest (again) that the best way to fight this kind of piracy is just to make the books available for legitimate purchase at a reasonable price, and the problem will take care of itself. (Of course, there is disagreement over what kind of price would be considered “reasonable”, but from the paragraph above Basch doesn’t seem to have much of a problem paying standard agency pricing rates for the enjoyment he gets out of e-books.)

I have found that my own e-reading experience more or less mirrors Basch’s, at least as far as the flexibility and portability of e-reading goes. I wonder what kind of effects this will have on society as a whole when nearly everybody reads that way? I think we’ll find out in just a few years.

9 Comments on How e-reading changes reading habits – a testimonial

  1. I’m relieved to hear that there are readers out there who will pay for e-books, and only pirate them if they can’t find them otherwise… I saw an alarming trend in 2011 for pirated e-books and it’s heartening to hear that there are people like Diego who VALUE all the hard work that went in to the creation of a book! Bravo Diego.

  2. “Publishers please take note: printed books are going the way of CDs. I have bought mp3 albums a few times in the past year; I have no idea when I bought music in a physical container for the last time.”

    THIS, a thousand times THIS. i have some gift cards given to me for Barnes & Noble, and i was shopping there this week and was very very frustrated by the whole experience. i have an iPad, so i’m not too surprised to find that they only sell ebooks for the Nook. i decided i’d look into buying MP3 albums instead to to use up my gift card, but then i found that they don’t even SELL MP3s (other than audio books, which i don’t care for). they sell vinyl and cassettes, sure, but who wants to add those to the deadweight of their lives? been there, done that — its two media iterations ago, as far as i’m concerned. and i just can’t make myself buy a physical book or two, either. so, i’m stuck with gift cards that are essentially useless to me… unless i want to buy a case for my iPad, which (inexplicably) they DO sell. no wonder they are doing terribly.

  3. There is a Nook Reader application for use on the iPad, you know. So you could still buy e-books.

  4. Clytie Siddall // January 1, 2012 at 12:10 am //

    Jody, as an Australian I am often blocked from buying the ebooks I want. I search for them rigorously. Sometimes the already illogical geographic limitations are imposed inconsistently, and I can buy the ebook from one retailer while others block me. If I can’t find a retailer who will sell me the book, I will often give up on reading that author. It’s just not worth all the fruitless searching and serial rejection.

    However, if the blocked ebook is part of a series I’ve been buying and reading, and the next title is already out and available for me to buy (yes, this happens regularly), then I am definitely tempted to find an unofficial copy. Here I am, offering money for a copy of this book, but nobody is willing to take it! I wish each author would set up a PayPal donation button, so we who are not allowed to buy their books can actually give the money to them that we were already willing to pay for each book.

    Hypothetically speaking, if I wasn’t allowed to buy that mid-series ebook, after having contacted the author to advise him/her that I am willing to buy the ebook but am being blocked by their publishers (at this point they usually reply numbly, “But I insisted on world rights for ebooks”), I would find a unofficial copy and read it. Several months (or years, in some cases) later when the ebook was finally made “available” to me, I would buy it, even though I had already read it and had no intention of reading it again. I want to pay the author for the enjoyment s/he has given me.

    I wouldn’t look for an unofficial copy of an ebook if it was expensive. (Right now, well-known extorters Hachette demand over $17 each for two genre ebooks I want to buy.) I wait for the price to come down. If it doesn’t come down to what I consider a reasonable price for that ebook, I won’t buy it. I will keep an eye out for reasonably-
    priced ebooks from that author, but if the publisher insists on charging too much, I simply won’t read that author anymore.

    The imposition of geographic limitations has definitely changed my reading and purchasing patterns. I buy directly from authors whenever possible. I read author sites. I read a lot more public-domain texts and indie/self-published texts. I am unwilling to reward publishers for treating me like an outcast. As a disabled person, I don’t have the option of reading paper books, but the big publishers don’t seem at all reluctant to discriminate against the disabled.

    Before geolims were imposed, I bought huge numbers of ebooks. Now I am allowed to buy a lot less, but I try to direct that money to authors. Authors want me to read their books. The Agency 6 publishers evidently don’t.

  5. Clytie, I feel terrible for anyone who has been thwarted by the geographical limitations on e-books. I am in the US and don’t experience it as often, but sometimes I do. Whereas I can order a physical book from the UK and have it shipped to me, I cannot order the same book in digital format. This is something which needs to be sorted out, and fast. Like you, I often lose interest in an author if their books are unavailable to me digitally which is mostly how I read now. The eyestrain of small print has really started to bother me, so my sights have shifted to what is available of the authors I enjoy.

  6. I have to agree with the author that most people are willing to pay for their ebooks, only pirating them when they can’t get them through a legitimate outlet.

    Publishers fears of piracy is actually holding most of them back in my opinion.

  7. Chris, re
    ”I have found that my own e-reading experience more or less mirrors Basch’s, at least as far as the flexibility and portability of e-reading goes. I wonder what kind of effects this will have on society as a whole when nearly everybody reads that way? I think we’ll find out in just a few years.”

    You will find out sooner than that when PHD research reveals that reading on paper surfaces is superior in terms of brain chemistry for 3 things — info processing, info retention, and info analysis. now what was i saying?

    mark my words…. 2015 the research will be done.

  8. I wonder what kind of effects this will have on society as a whole when nearly everybody reads that way? I think we’ll find out in just a few years.

  9. i posted a longer comment it got squeeazed out, why?

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