Get excited, it’s time for our annual e-book poll, which I have held every year since 2007: will you ever buy mostly e-books?
Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, I know this isn’t the most scientific of polls. Yes, the sample has changed from year to year. Yes, there are two polls from 2009 because I forgot one at the end of ’08. Entertainment purposes only!
Here are the past polls:
2008 (technically beginning of ’09)
And here is this year’s poll. Do you think there will come a time when you buy mostly e-books? Click through for the poll if you’re reading via e-mail or in a feed reader:
Fawn Neun says
I don't have room to store all the paper books I want to read. For ones I read over and over – paper is the thing. But for those that I would normally just grab at the library? Digital is the way. (Mainly because I can never remember to return them on time.)
So, I will probably buy MORE books with an eReader, especially if the big publishers get their heads out of their arses and set the charge for electrons instead of dead vegetable matter.
I'll likely buy an e-reader in the next year or so. I expect to use it for reading:
– books that would otherwise be too large/bulky for the subway
– books I can't find in the bookstore
– public-domain books
– short stories
– critique partners' stories (if I get one that has that capability)
Beyond that, I'll have to wait and see…
Laura Thomson says
I already do.
The only things I buy in paper are books I am convinced I will read more than once: this is reference books, and books by my absolute favorite authors. Day to day reading is all ebooks (Kindle).
My decision was influenced by moving to the US and having to give away more than 2000 paperbacks. That wasn't the first time I'd had to do it, either.
A. McBay says
Being a military wife, we move a lot. My husband has forbidden me to buy any more books unless it is on my kindle. It's a huge hassel to move my books so much, and with two toddlers and two book munching dogs my treasures are in constant danger. At least I am able to lock up my kindle and keep it from harms way. It is also a delight to read on. So much more comfortable than a paperback. Some people argue that they don't want to give up the smell of a book, but I have anosmia (no sense of smell) so it is no loss for me. I'm also working on a novel and its nice being able to load it on my kindle to do a read through. I have my rough draft wherever I go and can highlight mistakes and make notes where needed. The only way I would give up my K2 is for a K3.
Fawn Neun says
Oh and you broke high school and colleget students? You can download a variety of eReaders for your smartphone for free: Kindle, Stanza, etc. I KNOW you all have smartphones.
Porter Anderson says
I'm already doing far more e-books — and the New Yorker, and your blog, Nathan — than hardback and paper, thanks to the Kindle (I'm on my second). I buy a traditional book only if it's not available in a Kindle edition or it's the type book I truly need in standard format for graphics reasons, such as a book on fine art. This is running me about five-to-one e-books to traditional. Kurt, you're right, Kindle for PC is real good, too.
Best of all: I'm reading far more than I did. I keep five or six books going at once, bookmarking where I am in the Kindle, so I can pick right back up on each. I love being able to look up definitions of words instantly on the Kindle. (We all know "fecund" but do you know "facund?" I mean really.)
We'll always revere Guggenheim. But I'd rather have lunch with Jeff Bezos.
Stephanie Garber says
I totally get why people love the e-reader, but I will heart my paperbacks and hardbacks until I die!
And it's not just because I have the bad habit of flipping to the last page of a chapter before I finish reading the chapter, which I feel wouldn't quite be the same with an e-book. I just love real books! I love the way they feel in my hands. I love being able to loan them to friends, and see my paperbacks age as if they themselves are old friends the more I reread them. I heart my books!
However… I am grateful for the e-readers if it means that more people are able to enjoy books 🙂
Brooklyn Ann says
I'm with physical books all the way. I hate reading on a screen and If I did have an e-reader it would be destroyed by Cheeto crumbs and spilled wine in a fortnight.
Also, e-books ruin my fantasy of my own private library with floor to ceiling cherry wood shelves full of beautiful (albeit Cheeto-stained) books.
I have a first-gen Kindle, and I used it only listlessly for a while. Lately, I prowl the Kindle bestseller list, download free samples, and buy at will. Most books are half the price of in-store, or less, and they are available to me instantly. I also feel good about saving trees. Best is to look at the cool covers and photos in the old-fashioned store, then buy it via Kindle. And mine's an old klunker from 2007.
I also read my own draft mss. via Kindle to get them to look like "real" books — and it helps level the field for me.
Plus, I like the way I can change the font size. That's going to be an important aspect of e-book reader sales for baby boomers.
It's only a matter of time, guys. So many benefits to this brave new electronic world.
I got the kindle for the I-phone (for free) in September, and I now have 43 books on it, including one textbook.
When you did Harry Potter week, Nathan, I thought to myself: I'm going to re-read the whole series. Then I found out that Harry Potter isn't on e-books yet.
I was at a complete loss. I am NOT joking. I'm like, "well how am I supposed to read Harry Potter now???" Then I remembered the books on my shelf, and ran through in my mind how you read a paper book. You take it off the shelf, and open it, and it's heavy, and then you have to lug it around with you.
No way. Not worth the hassle. I'll just wait for the e-book version.
Even though I've supported e-books from the start, I'm still surprised by how quickly I adapted. I've moved on from that old technology called paper books. Someday, I'll tell the younger generation about how we used to have to travel miles and miles to go to this big building and walk around it for hours just to buy a book. Then, we had to travel miles and miles with 100s of pounds of paper books on our backs for days and days. Barefoot. Uphill. In the snow.
They'll be amazed at what we had to go through just to read a book! Such courage and perseverence. Well. Not anymore.
I do not have an e-reader and I do not want an e-reader. At the same time, I can imagine changing my mind at some point. The idea of an e-reader makes a lot of sense to me but I really love books, pages, covers.
Also, I stare at a computer screen all day. The last thing I want to do when I read for leisure is look at a screen again.
T. Anne says
I buy mostly e-books now. I'm enjoying my ipad more than my Kindle. I still use the Kindle app for ipad. Since I'm able to see cover's in color, I miss paper books even less!
Dave Ale says
I can't believe everyone gave up on stone tablets so quickly. Sure, they're heavier, and kind of awkward, and a b**** to move, but don't you miss the sensation of rough stone on your fingers, or the slightly earthy smell?
Carol Riggs says
I won't say Never. But I rarely BUY books anyway. I'm a library gal, always have been. Partly because I don't re-read books, so why keep them around?
Nicole MacDonald says
Love e-books – so much cheaper and lighter than the monster $40-$60 books I like 🙂 Looking forward (and simultaneously terrified..) to publishing mine on Amazon..
BirthRight The Arrival – on Amazon 1.1.11
I'm about to cancel my hardcopy New Yorker subscription, which I've had for 30+ years, and replace it with a Kindle subscription. That pretty much says it all for me.
Shellie Neumeier says
Already there. I rarely buy paperbacks, anymore. Even my kiddos are reading on my e-reader (which shall stay nameless so as not to incite a riot or debate:).
Put me in the maybe category, though I sense a shift coming. I downloaded a few public domain books I'd always wanted to read to my (new) Android phone, which has a Kindle application. The text is surprisingly easy to read. Now I have something to take with me anywhere to read (subject to battery life), which means I no longer have to haul books around. So many books are oversized lately that they're not as convenient as a paperback to stuff in a small space. Can't get much smaller than a phone.
In the last week, I've also downloaded two other books simply because I didn't want to wait for them to be shipped in 2 or 3 weeks. On the other hand, they're not ones I'll want to keep around long. I save space on my shelves for the really good stuff.
Karen Peterson says
I will always have book shelves with actual, tangible books on them. And I will still buy new books.
But I sure do want a nook. And I will use the heck out of it when I get one.
I've been ebooks-only for 3 years now. I've had friends loan me a paper book, and I ended up returning it without ever opening it, because it just seemed so inconvenient… Instead, I would just buy the book for my kindle…
I almost all e-book now anyhow. I only buy the paper version if it's something I'll want to have signed some day. 😀
TERI REES WANG says
I used to so overly possessive of my books. I was a hoarder and now I'm not…not any more.
I found myself gifting my old classic collective, rare finds to some who might not ever read my books, but I know they will be well cared for.
I also delivered a library stash of duplicates to a small town library. Emptying the shelves, wiping them clean, and re-stocking the shelves as best I tried.
A series of one author books goes directly to my Mama, who does her duty, and then directs her friends to come collect the batch, and follow our same reading path.
My eBook (nook) keeps me in the game with all the visual responsibility of banking the paper.
I feel lighter, and fuller.
D.G. Hudson says
Probably not. I'm not a techi-aficiondo – and I get annoyed at having to recharge every e-tool I use.
I mentioned once before that in Paris, France and in Montreal, Canada airports a few months ago, I only saw two people using their ereaders, but many reading actual books. I didn't see a plethora of ereaders anywhere on my trip. I didn't even see 50% usage.
It appears to definitely be generational in appeal, and only affordable to the upwardly mobile.
What happens when the ereader becomes outdated? Will all ereaders always be able to download the material provided or will it keep changing like our music delivery? (so you need to upgrade)
I voted maybe, but you won't see me jumping in until my husband decides he wants one. He doesn't even see the need for one yet, and he likes new toys.
More and more, we creep toward connectivity – with something. . .anything. Where's my robot?
J. R. McLemore says
I said never, but honestly, that could change in the near future. I downloaded the Kindle and Nook apps for my PC and bought King's UNDER THE DOME and a new up-and-coming author's eBook, but I haven't read either.
I still prefer the riffle of the pages and the smell of the print. Also, I built two huge bookshelves this past summer to house my paperbacks. Finishing a book and adding it to the shelf of read books is like putting a trophy among the others.
Jessica Subject says
I've only had my e-reader since June, but already my TBR pile of ebooks is much larger than traditional published books. I like the portability of ebooks, but I also like the ease of access of paper books; all you have to do is open them instead of waiting for them to load up.
I'm in the Never camp for a lot of the same reasons people have already said. I have an undying (and perhaps irrational) love for actual paper books. Plus, I spend way too much time already looking at computer or phone screens. I would never want to do my fun reading that way – for me, it cuts down on my chance to truly escape into the pages.
I do think e-books are opening a lot of cool possiblities, but I am secretly rooting for paper books to hold their own. 🙂
Douglas L. Perry says
Been there since 2008 when I got my first Kindle. I casually walk by the stacks of books I want at Costco only to get the titles I'll download later.
Author, Planet Heidi says
I used to be a paper book zealot. Then a few months ago someone gave me a Nook as a gift (I would have never bought such a device). Now I'm hooked on e-books. So easy, so cheap and so much less space. I feel bad for the small independent specialty book sellers (like the Seattle Mystery book store) because until I got Nooked, I was a power shopper there. Now I realize that e-books are perfectly positioned for the power book shopper and because of that, are a razor blade across the jugular of those small book sellers. Sad but true. Even today, I found myself chuckling at a woman at the bus stop reading a hardback with a homemade book-cover. How quaint, like a buggy-whip.
Right now I'm about a half-and-halfer, mostly because of textbooks for school. When that's all over, and I don't have to worry about whether or not my page number matches my classmates', it'll probably be all electronic.
Option # 5;
I expect at some time in the near future I won't have a choice, because of migration to digital publication predominance, because of expedient circumstances, because most of my reading is already through some electronic format or another for the above two reasons.
The technology and styles just don't quite fit my comfort zone yet. So my purchases remain hardcopy for the reasons of comfort and durability.
definitely not happening yet. the only e reader i've had physical contact with was a sony reader on display in a branch of waterstones and i didn't like the page turn. it's really distracting. so until i see something better that doesn't cost a fortune i'll stick to paper. plus i hate to think paper books will become obsolete, you can't take your kindle to a book signing! if you publish a book you can't see the e version on a book shelf.
The only scenario in which I'd buy e-books would be if paper books disappear or become horrifically expensive, and I'm forced into the digital option. Until then, I'm a paper book gal all the way.
Matthew Rush says
I can't imagine ever buying only e-books. I love real books too much. Then again I am an environmentalist, and it's hard to argue against the benefit to the planet.
lisa c. baker says
I've bought mostly ebooks ever since I got my iPhone. It's just too convenient to have all these books in my pocket to choose from. Plus I can read them in the dark. Awesome.
But I will never move entirely to ebooks. How would I read if the electricity went out? Too much risk! My new mode will probably be to buy books twice–first as ebooks, and then again as used paperbooks for books I want to re-read and lend over and over. Although once libraries have a decent selection of ebooks I'll use that instead. But right now I do most of my reading in the dark while putting my kid to bed, so the backlit screen on my iPhone is just plain necessary.
Anne R. Allen says
The folks who will only buy ebooks must never fly. The time you most need a book is waiting for the plane to take off and when you're trying not to worry about the landing–the two times you are required to turn off electronic devices. So people who don't buy paper books will be stuck talking to that boring salesman next to them instead of reading.
Megan Grimit says
I really love the convenience of an e-reader but I also love real pages and real books so much that most times I'll buy a book for my kindle and if I love it I'll also buy the actual book to put on my bookshelf. So I'd have to say I'm stuck in the middle.
Ann Best says
Born in 1940, I grew up with books. I love the printed book and always will. I don't think I'll ever completely clear out my bookcase, especially not illustrated titles like Why the Chimes Rang and Girl of the Limberlost. But I am loving my new iPod. So easy to carry around, and I can afford to buy more books this way, and I'm also downloading all the "classics" that I read years ago! Technology can indeed be wonderful!! (As long as there's a source to charge the battery! That's one advantage of print books: no battery required!!)
Ann Best, A Long Journey Home
Kasey with a C says
Never. Technology has a nasty habit of leaving a person in the lurch, usually at a time when one most needs it. I wouldn't mind an e-reader for the occasional fling, but nothing will ever replace my books.
Martin Rose says
Hells yes! Hey, books are nice, they have an aesthetic sensibility, but they can't compare to the portability and functionality of an ebook reader. I live in a house barely 1,000 square feet; I can't fit all the books I want to read, will ever read, inside of it. The ebook reader is excellent in solving this space problem. And nothing from nothing, but if a pile of bound paper is what makes a story worthwhile to people, than they don't know how to read. The story is what matters — no matter what format it is presented in.
I expect to be buying both — eBooks for stuff I want to read once, and print books for gifts and mementos I want on my shelf.
I also love buying used historical non-fiction books on Amazon… the kind with century-old photos. Don't foresee an e-reader for those.
Joseph L. Selby says
Watcher55 said (as an anonymous post while he figures this darned thing out):
Paper books are more personal (someone made this)
Hi, my name is Joe. I make your ebooks. Nice to meet you.
Now ebooks are personal too.
CMR Prindle says
After seeing how quickly I've jumped to nearly all-download-all-the-time for music, despite my protestations that I like the cover art and the booklets (I really, really do!) I was ready to reluctantly admit that I'd probably jump ship just as quickly if/when I get an e-reader. Then I remembered a conversation I had with my mother about them, that basically pointed out how difficult it would be to study several tomes on an e-reader: sticking your finger (or pens or pencils or barrettes) in several pages of several books simultaneously, simul-reading from all those tomes, checking appendices or concordances, etc. and so forth. Short of going all Star Trek and having a stack of PADDs lying around, I don't think e-readers are there yet. So for my casual reading, more likely than not. For my serious study time (or, rather, my imitations of my mother's serious study time) not so much.
Becca C. says
Never never never. My favourite thing in the world is going to a book store and enjoying the smells and textures of all the books. I take the biggest pride in my massive book collection, and one of my goals for the future is to have a fancy private library someday with ladders on the shelves. You can't make the same emotional connection with an e-book that you can with a paper book. I'm sorry, but I'm paper till the day I die.
And I'm 19. Just being young doesn't make someone all-for technology.
I'm holding out for lendable e-books. I personally own several bookshelves of books and often act as a mini-library for novels that interested friends can't find at the library—because I only buy books that I know I enjoy and will want to lend to others. It takes up a lot of space. I'd gladly transfer as much as possible over to e-books if they were as lendable as paper books.
Kersley Fitzgerald says
As of 25 December, around 11:15 in the morning, I will be buying mostly ebooks. That's when I should be unwrapping my Kindle.
Well, if my 17 reminders a week haven't so annoyed my husband that he refuses to get it just on principle.
Well, up until I received an iPad, I didn't get the ebook idea. But I must admit i've found the iPad bookstore good for picking up older classics I don't own and have always wanted to read. That hasn't replaced my fiction book shopping though. Given the choice, I want to be holding a novel in my hands, and admiring it on my shelf.
However, the significant difference in my shopping patterns is in my non-fiction shopping. I really see the future of non-fiction heading in the ebook direction, and I purchased a revolutionary book on my iPad that showed me how different the future was going to be. It's called Lights, Camera, Capture, and it isn't just a non-fiction book on photography, it's so much more than that. As you read the book you can access videos and demonstrations by the writer, (built into the book but accessed via Wifi) and the photos and diagrams open up with complete explanations.
The experience is so much more than I would have received from a paper book. It's interactive and in depth – just like being in a tutorial. For the first time, I understood where we're going with ebooks. The future looks exciting!
I'm still going to buy my fiction in paper, but non-ficition ebooks, here I come!
Liz Fichera says
I love my e-reader. I now only buy e-books and I download e-books from my public library. Totally cool. Going back to actual books would be like going back to rotary dial phones.
No, I won't ever shift exclusively to ebooks and though I have an ereader, I find I'm reading more printed books than ebooks lately. I enjoy holding a printed book in my hands and turning the pages and I find my ereaders a hassle (making sure it has enough power etc etc).
Since breaking the DRM on ebooks is so easy (allowing me to transfer it around my storage as I see fit) yeah I'll probably buy plenty of ebooks. But there will always be special books I want on paper so that I still have them in the event of the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 😀