Still Buying Dead Trees

I haven’t done a post about my Kindle experience yet, well I have but I’m not ready to published it yet. The short version is: I like it. The tricky thing about owning one has been deciding whether to buy the electronic version of a book or the paper one.

The decision is easy for some books. Technical books, TV tie-ins, and the occasional non-fiction are all guaranteed Kindle buys. These are books I’ll either only read once, become outdated after a year or three, and/or are books that I’ll want to makes notes in and be able to search easily.

Fiction books are more difficult for me to decide on. There are some series that are no-brainers, like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. These are also books that I get in hardback if possible because they’ll last longer.

Other books aren’t as easy though. For instance, I love Glen Cook’s Garrett, P.I. series. I discovered the fantasy noir series a few years ago and have working on collecting the entire series. Gilded Latten Bones was recently released and I was standing in the bookstore yesterday trying to decide if I should buy it or go out to the parking lot and buy it on my Kindle or do both.

I am really really really resisting buying both editions of any book, even though I did make or exception to that rule recently (that’s a post for later though).

The bookstore copy will go on my shelf when I’m done and, unless there’s a fire or burglary, I know I’ll be able to take it down and read it again five or ten or more years from now. The Kindle copy won’t contribute to the epic clutter of my office or the overloading of my bookshelves, and it’s easier to sneak reading time in at the office too, since I can read on my phone or laptop in addition to the Kindle itself.

In the end, I decided to get the dead trees and am continuing to resist urges to go ahead with the Kindle version as well. Besides trying to figure out which location in the Kindle matches up to whatever page I’m on would be a pain. My decision came down to the fact that besides reading them, I’m also collecting them and I don’t want to have a gap in the series on my shelf.


I’m not a fan of DRM lock-in in any medium, but especially not with books because I like to keep and reread them, sometimes more than ten years later. With music, I didn’t start spending money on MP3s until Amazon came out with their DRM-free store.

That said, I ordered a Kindle.

Why a Kindle and not a Nook?

First, I tried out a Nook in the Barnes & Noble store a few weeks ago when they announced their price cut but the touch screen felt a little laggy to me. Second, I’ve tried out both the Kindle and Barnes & Noble software on my phone, using it to read some free samples, and I liked the Kindle version better.

So what changed my mind?

Well, I’ve been tempted to get one before out of sheer gadget lust, but always managed to make my saving throw. Until my wife asked me recently about what we would need to stream Netflix to the TV. My wife suggesting a gadget purchase is a rare event, so I was pretty excited. Thus, while I was on Amazon ordering a Roku box, I somehow ended up ordering a Kindle as well.

So I actually haven’t changed my mind, I do think that I’m taking a risk of having to buy some books multiple times because of DRM, but hopefully by being aware of that and making some decisions about what I buy in which format, I can avoid getting burned in the future.

I’m intending to be fairly choosy about what I buy electronically. If Amazon ever decides to get out of the ereader business, I’m at their mercy to remove the DRM from my purchases so I can transfer the files to text or to different hardware (assuming I don’t break the law and find away to do it myself). Honestly, that not something I see publishers ever allowing though.

Being choosy means that I will get Kindle editions for things like programming books, since they get outdated within a few years,  and any vacation reading, like the Burn Notice tie-in I read recently. Certain authors will continue to be hardback purchases: Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and Patrick Rothfuss, to name a few. Basically, anything that I’m likely to reread or collect.

The big challenge for me will be the convenience and immediacy of getting Kindle editions. For instance, if I’m chatting on Twitter and someone mentions a book, I can order it from my phone and start reading it during my lunch break at work. Something I’ve actually done recently.

I still don’t like that you can’t use readers on planes during take offs and landings, but I very rarely travel so that’s always been a picked nit on my part.

I ordered the new Kindle 3 (wifi/3g) but they’re back-ordered right now, so I have to wait until mid September to see how much I actually like it. In the meantime, I’ve bought two BlackBerry development books and the Elemental game tie-in, Destiny’s Ember, and I’ve been reading them on my phone (which is great for downtime at work) and on my desktop PC.