This week Barnes & Noble lowered their price for the Nook to $199, and came out with a Wi-Fi only model for $149, and on the same day Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle to $189. Unfortunately, the iPad remains $499. Once again I’m thinking about buying an ebook reader, but there are so many things to consider that I’m left undecided.
For instanced, I’ve been to three local bookstores trying to find a copy of Texasville by Larry McMurtry without coming home with a book to read. If I had an ebook reader, either Nook or Kindle, I could have started reading it immediately after realizing I wanted it.
Score 1 for ebooks. If the book is available ebook readers win on instant gratification.
Score 1 for paper. On the other hand, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sell the ebook edition of Texasville for about the same price as the trade paperback edition, so I wouldn’t have saved any money towards paying back the investment of $149, $189 or $499. Why buy an ebook when the real book is the same price? I could read the real book and give it away or sell it, which I can’t with an ebook.
Score 1 for paper. I just ordered Texasville as a used hardback for 1 cent and $3.99 postage. You can get used books but not used ebooks.
Score 1 for ebooks. If I had bought the ebook edition of Texasville, Larry McMurtry would have been paid. Buying used cuts out the author. If all books sold were ebooks then writers will always get their cut.
Score 1 for paper. If everyone buys ebooks bookstores will go out of business, now that would suck, wouldn’t it?
Score 1 for ebooks. The price of The End of Biblical Studies is significantly cheaper for the ebook edition. It’s $21.77 for paper and $9.99 for the Kindle, but it’s not available for the Nook. Bummer, because I was thinking about getting the $149 Nook. But that’s $11.78 I could apply towards the iPad, since it does have Kindle and Nook reader software.
Score 1 for paper. I’m going down my Amazon Wish List to test things, and it’s score another point for paper, because The Year’s Best Science Fiction 2010 is not available for ebook readers. Actually, paper will score many points here because many books on my Wish List aren’t available in an ebook edition. That will change.
Score 1 for iPads. There are books that are available for the Kindle but not the Nook, and other books like Darwin’s Armada that’s available on the Nook, but not the Kindle. The iPad has software readers for most dedicated ebook readers. But $149 + $189 is still cheaper than $499.
Score 1 for ebooks because they offer large print and that makes reading easier for me.
Score 1 for ebooks because they are environmental friendly.
Score 1 for paper because I can share books, give them away or sell them.
Score 1 for ebooks because they are easier to hold.
Score 1 for paper to save money. By buying used, going to the library, getting books off the free table at work or borrowing books from friends I could significantly reduce my annual reading budget. It’s even possible to spend no money on reading if I stuck with paper.
Score 1 for ebooks because they stimulate the economy. Not only do you need to buy an ebook reader, but you have to pay for all your new books. This is bad for libraries and bookstores, but great for publishers, writers and the economy. The move to a Green Economy means creating as many environmental friendly jobs as possible.
Score 1 for iPads because they are good for magazine reading.
That’s 6 for paper and 9 for ebooks, with a leaning towards the iPad. I’m leery of spending $499 for the iPad. I spent $199 for the iPod touch and $399 for a Toshiba netbook and really don’t use either. I’d hate to spend another $499 for another gadget I’d end up not using too. But I’m wanting to read more but I can’t because small print strains my eyes. An ebook reader promises help for this handicap.
Finally, my stand on giving up paper means I don’t read magazines like I used to, and I miss that. I can read magazine articles online from my computer desk, but that’s not the most comfortable way to read for fun. The iPad “appears” to offer a better solution, but I won’t know until I bet my $499.
I look at my wall of books next to my computer desk and I wonder what life would be like if all those books were inside an ebook reader. Many of them are reference books with photos, drawings and diagrams – so I can only imagine those working on an iPad.
I had to move my wall of books when we put down new flooring and all of those books were very heavy and hard to move. It would be strange to hold all of them in one small device.
If I was born in a future age of ebooks, would my ebook reader at age 58 hold every book I had ever read? That’s a weird thought. Writing this is making me lean towards buying the iPad, and maybe even spending $599 to get the 32gb model, although I’m also tempted to hang onto paper for just a while longer until the iPad 2 comes out next year.
I keep thinking of more things to consider. Will I take my expensive iPad into the bathroom to read? If there are four best of the year SF anthologies to consider and only two of them are sold in ebook editions, will that force my buying decision? Will I choose Dozois and Hartwell over Horton and Strahan because they don’t have ebook editions?
Once I buy an iPad will that make me prejudice against books that don’t have ebook editions? It’s like my friend who took a rotary phone to show his fifth grade class and one girl asked “How do you send text messages?” If I get used to an ebook reader and then pick up a book, will I think, “Where’s the button to change the font size?”
JWH – 6/27/10