On Posterous, blogger Diego Basch writes about how the Amazon Kindle has changed his reading habits. It’s an interesting testimonial on how e-readers can change the way we interact with our books.
As a result of having plenty of unread books on his Kindle, Basch now finds he doesn’t watch TV anymore—there isn’t ever a time when he no “next” book to keep him from watching something on the tube. He also finds that he goes through books a lot faster than he used to because he can also read them on the Kindle app on his computer or his phone. He writes that whether a book is available for Kindle influences his decision on what to read next, and is seeing printed books as deadweight. He also reports that the Kindle is so cheap now that he sees it as a “physical app”—he’ll use it until it breaks and order another one without a second thought.
And he had some comments on piracy as it relates to e-books and consumer desire:
I don’t pirate books unless there’s absolutely no alternative. An ebook typically costs $5 to $15. I’m going to spend hours reading it, and I value my time highly. I also value the enjoyment I expect to get out of the book. With Amazon’s one-click delivery to my Kindle, paying for it is a no-brainer. The only reason to pirate a book is when I want to read it NOW and nobody sells an e-version. I’ll spend a couple of minutes searching for an "unofficial" e-copy. If the quality is acceptable, I’ll read it. Publishers please take note: printed books are going the way of CDs. I have bought mp3 albums a few times in the past year; I have no idea when I bought music in a physical container for the last time.
It seems to me that this attitude is becoming more and more common—that people will buy e-books when they can, but will find them elsewhere when they can’t buy them, and feel justified in doing so. Leaving aside the morality of the matter, which has been rehashed countless times already, this does suggest (again) that the best way to fight this kind of piracy is just to make the books available for legitimate purchase at a reasonable price, and the problem will take care of itself. (Of course, there is disagreement over what kind of price would be considered “reasonable”, but from the paragraph above Basch doesn’t seem to have much of a problem paying standard agency pricing rates for the enjoyment he gets out of e-books.)
I have found that my own e-reading experience more or less mirrors Basch’s, at least as far as the flexibility and portability of e-reading goes. I wonder what kind of effects this will have on society as a whole when nearly everybody reads that way? I think we’ll find out in just a few years.