e-books moneyHave you spent more money on e-reading devices or on e-books to read on them? This is the question posed by a MobileRead forum survey, and the answers seem to be all over the map. Only a few dozen people have answered so far, so the sample size is too small to draw any real conclusions, but the most responders (11) say they’ve spent a hundred times more on e-books than on reading hardware, followed by a tie at 5x and 10x as much (9) and then 100x as much for the e-reading hardware as on e-books (8).

For my part, I took a rough guess at having spent ten times as much on e-books as readers, but the truth of the matter is that I honestly have no idea. I’ve been buying e-books since 1998 when I bought my very first one. I’ve bought from Alexandria Digital Literature, Baen, eReader, Fictionwise, Nook, Amazon, and various bundle sites. About the only places I haven’t bought any are Kobo and iBooks. I bought enough e-books from eReader and Fictionwise that I lost at least $200 worth when Barnes & Noble couldn’t transfer them all over to the Nook store. But did I mark down how much I spent on them? Well, no.

The question is especially interesting because it’s equally possible to spend nothing on e-readers or e-books. If I bought a desktop computer for other purposes but also bought e-books to read on it, would that count as an “e-reader” purchase? But on the other hand, if I bought a Kindle but used it strictly for public-domain and free e-books, then my ratio goes in exactly the opposite direction.

I’ve had plenty of e-readers through the ages, and many of them were fairly expensive at the time. But I’ve spent plenty on books, too. So honestly, how would I even know?

Do any of you know how much you’ve spent on e-reading hardware versus e-books? Let us know!

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TeleRead Editor Chris Meadows has been writing for us--except for a brief interruption--since 2006. Son of two librarians, he has worked on a third-party help line for Best Buy and holds degrees in computer science and communications. He clearly personifies TeleRead's motto: "For geeks who love books--and book-lovers who love gadgets." Chris lives in Indianapolis and is active in the gamer community.


  1. Between my husband and myself, we have four kindle e-readers and an amazon Fire. He reads on a Voyage; my preference is the Paperwhite. Neither of us has any interest in the Oasis. I read 120 to 150 books per year; Bob does around 100. We spend approximately zero on books annually, as we use our public library to borrow ebooks. The staff does wonderful collection development and is always willing to buy the titles and series we want to read next.

  2. My answer would depend on what counts as an e-reading device. I first read an e-book on a $1500 Packard Bell computer with a CRT screen. The headache afterward caused me to give up until LCD screens became more common.

    There’s also the hacked PSP that I tried using as an e-reader before deciding that 480×272 pixels on a 4 inch screen just wasn’t going to cut it. I did put one e-book on an MP3 player with a 1.8 inch screen, but that was just to see if it could really do it.

    I’ve spent only $155 on hardware mainly for reading, two cheap tablets and a refurbished Sony e-ink reader. I have no idea how much for ebooks over the years, but a lot more than $155.

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