double-dipI had coffee with a fellow e-book user today. We are both on March break, and one of the pleasures of our friendship has been our shared love of reading. We met in the coffee shop of a local Indigo, and naturally, the conversation turned to what we have been reading lately.

“That reminds me,” my friend said. “That I need to pick up some books while I’m here. I have been loving the Outlander series so much that I want to get some paper copies too.”

I admit, this format double-dipping baffles me. I readily accept that some books lend themselves better to a paper treatment. I really enjoy a nicely done art book or cookbook or kids book, myself. But I just buy it in paper in the first place—I don’t pay twice, for the e-book, and then for the print.

I followed her to the sci-fi section, where she agonized over the choices. One of the titles was only in trade paperback. She already had two of them in mass-market paperback and wanted them to match. I tried to upsell her to the trade paper anyway, since the smaller paperback seemed very unwieldy. But whatever—she already has, and has read these in e-book. Getting the paper seemed somewhat superfluous to me.

What do you think of e-book double dipping? Would there be any benefit to you in owning—and paying for—both paper and digital copies of the same book?

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Did you think to ask her why she was doing it? It seems likely she wants to have some of the benefits of print books that don’t accrue from reading them electronically. For example, if she wanted them to match the ones she already has, maybe she wants them to look nice on her bookshelf so people who come over can see her reading habits.

  2. I read exclusively ebooks, but for authors I really like, I’d be interested in having a nice hardback signed by the author. And while it would be okay to have some cheap paperback copies to give to friends or guests, I’m not going out of my way to buy them on the off chance.

  3. I occasionally will buy an ebook of a print book I already own, for easier re-reading later on. I don’t think I’ve ever gone the other way and bought a print copy of an ebook, though. And I normally reserve double dipping for authors/series I really love.

    I’ve also sometimes bought an ebook of a book I own simply because it was an Amazon daily deal, and I couldn’t resist picking it up on the cheap. In some of those cases, I’ve later gotten rid of the print copy, too, just to save space.

  4. I do have some signed hardback copies of special books, more as a collectible, and some things like bird guides and some coffee table type of books. But I actually do the double-dipping in the opposite direction. If I see a cheap backlist ebook of a physical fiction book I already have, I usually get it with the intention of reducing the many shelves of books in my house.

  5. I think many will have heard of the proofreading trick of changing the font or text size on screen or on paper.

    So if I buy an ebook and later buy and read hc or paperback I see things I didn’t see in the e-book.

    I can also act as a pusher and give away or lend the pbook.

    Of course (I am in the UK) the ebook may not be available.

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