I'm a confirmed bibliophile and most of my discretionary spending goes on books, although these days it's mostly on Kindle ebooks. Yes, I've made the switch and here's why you should consider putting the Kindle on your Christmas list.
Many of us read more than one book at once. There's the un-put-downable thriller you started in bed last night, read on the Tube and want to finish in your coffee break. The business book that you heard about on TV that will boost your career. There's the cheeky chick-lit or lad-lit you are secretly enjoying and maybe the compelling biography or naughty erotica. With the Kindle you can carry up to 1400 books and other e-readers are similar. You can put them in folders and archive them but you can also revisit them whenever you like. This is also a massive benefit when you go on holiday as you can take your whole library for less than the weight of one paperback. No excess luggage fees and a happy holiday-load full of reading. (Yes, you can read in direct sunlight on a Kindle. It's e-ink, like paper, not like your iPhone!)
Sampling is one of the best features of e-readers. As soon as you hear about a book, whether it's through twitter, magazine article, blog or podcast, you can download a sample so you have it to look at later. This puts 10-15% of the book on your Kindle and you can read that for free. Like browsing in a bookstore but you can do it from your device immediately. If you like the book you can buy it with one click. If you don't like it, just delete it. One of my (not so) guilty pleasures is to roam the Kindle store for samples. I will often download 30 I like the look of and the sample will tell me whether or not I want to continue reading.
Hands up if you own many more books than you have actually read? Or if your treat is to head to Waterstone's after work and browse the latest bestsellers? Personally I don't think books count as real spending as they enrich the mind or entertain so they must be exempt the monthly budget. However, sometimes the significant other thinks differently. With the Kindle, no-one even knows how many books you've bought.
Back to the addiction issue. Lots of books mean lots of cash spent. But Kindle books can be cheaper than the print version, especially if you look for the special deals and independent books. If you check the Amazon rankings, number of star ratings and reviews you will find some gems for less than the price of a coffee. There are also thousands of classics and other books for free so you can finally get through Austen, Homer or Dickens. More than enough to see you through the winter (and you don't have to go outside in the cold to the bookstore to get them).
Who can afford a library the size of Downton Abbey? Living space is at a premium and print books end up overflowing from bookshelves and spilling into the hallway. There are some books we want to keep forever but let's face it, some of them should make way for new reading material. With ebooks, the space issue is solved. You can still browse your cloud library from your devices but you can also live in a one bedroom flat with no issue at all.
At the end of the day, the packaging doesn't matter but the content does. If you lose yourself in a book, the vehicle it's delivered in disappears and you just experience the fictional world or the ideas it communicates.
What do you think? Are you an ebook convert or a die-hard physical book lover?
Follow Joanna Penn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thecreativepenn