E-book Nation

I used to love my books. The feel, the smell, and the way they looked on my bookshelves – they were an essential part of my life from a very young age. When I moved into my own home, I was excited to be able to finally have a library all my own.

Unfortunately, my husband did not share those same sentiments, and each time I raided the used book store, his concern over where they would all go once my guest room bookshelf filled up grew. So, to ease his concerns I decided to give eBooks a shot.

I don’t know many people who don’t read eBooks, either on an actual eReader like the Nook or Kindle, through apps for phones or tablets, or through services like Oyster or Scribd. This infographic, developed by OnlineUniversities.com, shows the emerging trends in eBook use vs. traditional paper and ink.

Economics of ebooks

In 2009, I started reading on the first generation Nook. The reason I went for the Nook (which accounts for a meager 1% of eReader sales now) was because a) the Kindle offered very little flexibility at the time  and b) the iPad wasn’t available until 2010. Not surprisingly, the iPad now accounts for more than half, a whopping 61%. Personally I prefer the E Ink screen, but the iPad is a lot more versatile, which is probably part of the reason so many people choose it.

What I find the most interesting is the number of eBooks read by eReader owners vs. the number of physical books read by traditional readers. Over the course of a year, eBook readers have read on average 24 books, nearly double that of the traditionalists. Also, 41% reported spending more time reading. These are two of the main reasons I prefer eReading over reading a physical book.  Due to the easy access to eBooks and the significantly lower price versus physical books, not to mention the various Netflix-like services out there, I’ve purchased, borrowed, and read many more books than I likely would have if I’d gone the traditional route.

But there’s always a downside. I buy / borrow a lot more books that I normally would, but I also forget about a lot of books after I acquire them. This results in missed opportunities because I’ve had to re-add myself to wait lists on my library app and, in some cases, wasted money because I would end up buying books half-conscious at 3 am while up with a newborn, only to realize I had zero interest in actually reading them once I was fully awake.

It was pretty hard to make the switch from paper to E Ink. I loved the feel of a book in my hands and being able to see them on display on my bookshelves. But compromise makes for a happy marriage, so I agreed to make the switch to ease my husband’s (very legitimate) fears of book overcrowding. It was something to get used to, but I’ve ultimately come to love the versatility and accessibility of eBooks.

So where do you stand? iPad or hardback? Boxed set or “boxed” set? I still feel a little wistful when I see others who have these lovely little libraries, but when I think about how much space I’m saving and how many more books I’m getting, it’s kind of made it worth it to forgo tradition a bit. Maybe one day when I have a big fancy house and an entire room I can dedicate to a library I’ll go back, but at this point, I think I’m hooked.

Some links if you’re thinking about dipping in to the eBook world:

http://gizmodo.com/5445603/the-ultimate-guide-to-ebook-readers-we-care-about

http://www.cnet.com/topics/ereaders/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2357102,00.asp

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