Lessons in eBook austerity
May 1, 2014 | 12:37 pm
By Joanna Cabot
My eBook spending habits have changed so much! The first year I purchased ebooks, I spent $1000, in a frenzy of new gadget lust. The second year, I did a binge stockpile just before the ‘agency pricing’ fiasco kicked in, and my spending went up a little. Every year since then, my spending has fallen, but as of last year, I was still averaging the equivalent of one trade paperback a month.
Not anymore! In January, I made a vow to cut my ebook spending and finish reading what I have already first. I decided to see how long I could go without spending money, and other than the four books I ‘purchased’ with an Amazon gift card balance, I have yet to spend a dime.
And…I feel great about it! Granted, I had a pretty big stockpile of unread books to start with; it’s not as if I was starting from scratch and relying on the bowels of Project Gutenberg here. But I haven’t stopped looking at new books either; I have just been wishlisting them instead of buying them. And what I have found is that to my surprise, the wished-for books aren’t actually piling up!
I go through the wishlist once a month or so for pruning, and when I do, I find two things: about half the books become available at the library, and about a third of them lose their interest during the cooling-off of wish list waiting. I am holding steady at a wishlist about ten books long.
Of the four I have ‘purchased,’ I have read one already, am midway through a second one and have let the other two (which were e-purchases of books I read and loved in paper) fall into that great TBR pit. I started reading the first one, and it was not as good as I remembered it. I have finally learned my lesson about rebuying paper books—they tend to be a waste of money for me because I like them in theory but when it comes to actual reading time, I pick the new ones over the already-read.
I am also enjoying watching the price of my reading habit go down. I track my spending, both on devices and books, and have a calculation cell on my spreadsheet which adds up all the money I have spent since I picked up the ebook habit, divides it by how many books I have read to show how much each book has ‘cost’ me. Now that I am working through my past buys and not running up the tab while I do so, my ‘cost per book’ has finally fallen below nine dollars. $9.99 was my average price per mass market paperback, so at last I can truthfully say that for me, ebooks have been a cheaper hobby than paper ones.
Lately, I have seen a few daily deals which tempted me. I can’t promise I will never buy forever; a great deal on a good book may yet push me back into buy mode. But for the time being, I am enjoying focusing more on what I have than what I want, and my no-buy challenge has been a good lesson for me.