My system used to be easy. I’d buy on Amazon when I felt like it. B&N just never quite felt right to me, and I don’t know why that is. Maybe because when I shop at Amazon I have the option of also buying things I might need around the house. In my last batch of Amazon purchases, I bought two bottles of Cetaphil soap. But I don’t think that completely explains my preference for Amazon. Amazon’s recommendations feature has lured me into more purchases than probably any other factor. Even walking around a book store (which I still love to do), I don’t seem to find as much as I want to buy when I’m just browsing Amazon. I tend to collect things over a period of time, dumping them in my cart and waiting until I have enough (usually six to eight books, though I’ve bought as few as one and as many as twenty-two in one swoop).
Now ebooks. I’m so torn about ebooks. I love the convenience and the fact that they’re searchable. But the prices are just loco and I worry that because I’m buying a license – and not the book itself – I could get burned in the future.
I love owning books. Physical books give me a pleasure few other things do. I love the way they feel, I love the way they look in my house. I’m willing to sacrifice that enjoyment, however, if I can be promised that my ebook is really mine, and I can do with it what I want. Right now, that’s not the case. The different formats are confusing, and more worrisome, license agreements can be changed. Currently Amazon can remove books from your device – a possibility that angers me more than it should, considering right now I don’t own a device. I do use Kindle For Mac, and I am planning on buying a Kindle in the next thirty days, but this alone gives me pause.
My money is limited. My passion for books is not. I want my limited money to be spent on things that are mine into perpetuity.
Another mark against ebooks is the pricing. Many ebooks are the same price – or more! – than their mass market counterparts. As a consumer, I feel this unfair. There are no overhead costs for these books (except for marketing, cover, and editing; by overhead I mean printing, paper, ink, trucking, storage, returns, etc.) They’re much cheaper to create, and I want those cost savings reflected in the price.
As a writer, of course, I want the price to be high. But as someone who reads many more books than I buy, I’d prefer a lower price point, perhaps a dollar below the mass market point. I buy approximately 200 books a year. Sometimes more. If ebooks are the same price as mass market paperbacks or trade paperbacks, I’ll stick with the physical.
It occurs to me now I haven’t bought a hardback in ages. I will though. I plan to buy Joan Didion’s “Blue Nights” in hardback. So I’m not opposed to spending money on books. I just want the price to be fair, and once I buy it, I want it to be mine forever.