My e-readers are getting heavy

Here’s an interesting question. If you had 300 books sitting in your “to read” stack would you be out buying more? As something I read last week observed, most sane people would say no — but that seems to go out the window with e-readers. I’m a case in point.

I have nearly 350 books on my Nook and more than 100 on my Kindle Fire (although there are some duplicates because they use different formats and a guy never knows which one is going to be nearest at hand). Do I really think I’m going to get those books read? Of course not. So, that raises a couple core questions: why are there so many and why does the number keep increasing? The answers are relatively simple.

Barnes & Noble, for one, has what it calls “Free Friday.” Every Friday it offers an e-book for free. Now I’m not too interested in most of them but, for example, two weeks ago it offered a book that sounded interesting enough that I couldn’t pass it up for free. Moreover, when I first got my Nook, each Friday offered a free classic book. Thus, I have books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Leaves of Grass and Pride and Prejudice on it. I’m guessing if I haven’t read them in the last 50 years, I’m not likely to in the next 50. But what is the harm in having them on an e-reader “just in case.”

Meanwhile, there are blogs and RSS feeds devoted to free or very low-priced e-books on Amazon. Amazon itself not only sends out a daily email of e-books priced at around $1.99, each month it offers 100 books in a variety of genres for $3.99 or less. To top it off, you can subscribe to services that send you a daily email of one-day deals at both Amazon and B&N. And I’m not even discussing Project Gutenberg or Google Books.

Yet it isn’t just handy availability and price. It’s also the technology. If I had physical copies of those 450 books, I would need another bookshelf in our house or the “to read” stacks would go to the bedroom ceiling. But I can take all of these with me simply by carrying the e-reader or sliding it into a backpack or carry on bag. The weight is almost unnoticeable.

So as much as I love physical books, the ease of storage and use of e-books has got me addicted. Besides, at least I know that only 0s and 1s will be disappearing at the end of my e-readers’ lives. I don’t have to worry about a physical object being discarded or destroyed.

Yes, the human capacity for rationalization is huge.

Consider the millions who are buying those modern Aladdin’s lamps called e-readers. These magical devices, ever more beautiful and nimble in design, have only to be lightly rubbed for the genie of literature to be summoned.

Steve Wasserman, “The Amazon Effect”

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