I’ve always been known for being a massive reader – my mum used to say that I’d look at the paper when I was 1 as if I was reading it, and taught myself to read when I was 3.
I currently have two large bookshelves groaning under the weight of my book collection. In my office, I have shelves full of business related books and downstairs is my fictional book collection (oh, and there’s a small stack in the kitchen of cookbooks of course).
I got an iPad back in September, and have enjoyed reading books on it, but I still love reading my “physical” books. However this week, two different things appeared which made me think about books. The boyfriend bought himself a Kindle (which should hopefully stop him buying so many heavy books at the airport!) and a hardback book that we have both been wanting to read.Ã‚Â The book, GCHQ, is about the history of the Governments communications agency, going back to the origins in 1919 and the work done in the Second World War at Bletchly Park.
I’ve only gotten a few chapters in, for a few reasons
1) It’s a heavy topic. I do enjoy something more than the trashy chick-lit books I like to read to switch off, but there are only certain times that I can read this book
2) It’s a heavy book! I normally will carry around my book with me about the house (and then leave it in the fridge) but I can’t hold this book comfortably one handed (while I make a cup of tea with the other, of course)
3) There are some things that I don’t quite get, so have to look them up, which usually ends up to a Wikipedia spiral and I emerge, an hour later, reading about something so far from the original subject.
Two of these problems are solved by using my iPad. It’s a little awkward, but I can carry it with one hand, and by highlighting a word, I can look it up in the dictionary. Easy!Ã‚Â I’ve not had much of a chance to use the Kindle, and have only looked at the dictionary so far. It looks like it would be quite good to read on this, because of the small size (it’s smaller than the iPad) but it doesn’t have a back lit screen, so the iPad would win out over this again.
I would have bought this book in iBooks, but for two reasons.
1) In the e-book (at least in the sample of this book I downloaded), there were no images. That probably doesn’t seem like such a problem, but at the start of the book, there are two maps, one of the UK and one of the world, with numbered points to show where certain places are. In iBooks, this is just a list of places.
2) Pricing. The physical copy of GCHQ costs Ã‚Â£16.44 on Amazon at the moment. (Not including any delivery costs of course). The Kindle version and the iBooks versions are both Ã‚Â£10.99. I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong!) that VAT is charged at 20% on e-books, but at 0% on physical books. This seems a bit off really, since the quality of ebooks, even those you purchase can be… crap. (Matt covered this a lot better than I can on his blog but I agree – if I’m paying a hardback price, I expect the quality to match!)
The other thing on pricing is that with things like my trashy one-night-read chick lit books, I can pick those up at Tesco or Asda while doing the weekly shop (“Oops, these books just fell into the trolley”) on offer – 2 for Ã‚Â£7, Buy One Get One Free. On the iPad, you’ll never see that sort of offer. (As a comparison, Tesco’s grocery website is offering Stephen Fry’s “The Fry Chronicles” for Ã‚Â£8. iBooks is charging Ã‚Â£12.99.)
This post has sort of gone into a bit of a ramble about all my thoughts on eBooks. Let me try and close this properly.
- Ebook readers are great, and there is sure to be something that matches your needs and budget.
- I wish they had been around when I was at uni, and I would like to see a lot more lending ability (how great would it have been to borrow textbooks from the library and carry them around in your handbag?)
- Quality is generally meh for what you pay for
- Pricing is ridiculous, especially when I can buy physical books cheaper at the supermarkets*
- I have spindly weak arms, and get annoyed carrying books.
What do you prefer – physical or technology-based books? If you have an ebook reader, do you find you read certain types of books on those more than others?
* I know that some people might dislike the whole book selling at low low prices at the supermarkets, but how different is it to buying from Amazon?