What if I don’t want to pay for books?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Many people still rely on public libraries to borrow books. They prefer reading for free and not buying books. Arguments for borrowing include those surrounding green initiatives and being budget savvy. Therefore it peaked my interest when I heard this argument against e-books the other day:

Obviously uneducated in modern technology – Person 1 looked over at person 2 and said what is that thing. Is it a big phone or a small computer?

Person 2 (with kindle in hand) smiled nicely and said it is a book reader. I can get electronic books on it. Then made a joke about how much lighter their bag is now that they don’t carry around a bundle of books.

Person 1 scoffed at the idea and asked how much they cost.

Person 2 politely replied about the cost of the kindle and the cost of each book.

Person 1 responded with the idea that they don’t agree with paying for books and if they want to read a book they will visit the library.

This prompted me to go home and google e-book libraries. I did not know that some time in September it was announced that Kindle e-books will be released to 11,000 US public libraries to go out on loan to Kindle readers.  Previously only certain libraries have had e-books available to lend and those are mainly on the Sony’s Reader. So far I have not found whether the Kindle e-books will be available here in the UK any time soon but have found evidence stating several major public libraries are lending e-books through the Nook and Sony’s Reader.

The only issue I have found for the lending of Kindle e-books is that Amazon are only allowing libraries to loan their titles for a limited number of times (one article I read said 10 and the other 26). This means that popular titles will have to be purchased repeatedly. Librarians have argued that paper copies often last longer than that and would not have to be purchased as frequently. With the additional cost I wonder how well this new service will work out for libraries or if Amazon will change the policy.

What do you think? Would you borrow e-books from the library if they were available to you?


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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8 Responses to What if I don’t want to pay for books?

  1. I wouldn’t…at this point. But that is only because I like reading real books.
    I read on Rachel Gardner’s blog yesterday that Amazon is starting a ‘free lending library’. Yes, it only costs you $79 a year and the cost of purchasing one of their reading appliances. The authors chosen to participate have no say in the matter. And so far are not compensated for the contribution of their book. Amazon does not write this into their contract yet.
    American libraries used to be for people who couldn’t afford to buy books. Books are expensive…even e-books. We buy them and read them once, usually. People who can’t afford bread and milk can still read if we have truly FREE lending libraries. I feel like all this wrangling by Amazon is just a way to corner the market on books and make a buck for their investors. I don’t see it benefiting the writers, and certainly not the folks who can’t afford to purchase e-readers and membership. As for e-books being lent by true libraries, i think it’s a wonderful idea. Kids and gadget-loving people like reading on e-readers. The ‘how many times can an e-book be lent’ question is one that will hopefully sort itself out over time.
    I’ll be interested in seeing what your other followers have to say, Billie Jo. Good topic.

    • My husband has recently bought me a kindle. I have bought two books so far to read on it. Both of them are about the writing craft. I have to admit it is not the same as a real book but it is still enjoyable. The titles I will read on it appear to be fairly priced.

      When I was very little my mother took me to the library every week to get a stack of books because even at that age I consumed words. I loved my public library it had two giant papier mache dinosaurs in the kids section where they had cushions everywhere around them so you could curl up on the floor and read. It was a magical place. My school had a library and again I borrowed books weekly. Even my high school had a library where I could borrow books. When I reached college I was already in the habit of borrowing books so I borrowed texts pertaining to my field of study from the library at school and went back to my public library to nurture my soul.

      Now I am older and have resorted to buying books (my local library does not have a huge choice). Even my books usually end up at a charity shop or loaned out to friends and family when I am finished with them.

      If an e-book can be loaned out to youngsters and encourage them to love reading as much as I did growing up I think it is a fabulous idea too!

  2. Selena says:

    I agree with Cynthia. I like reading real books. I love the feel of turning the page, riffling them looking for my bookmark, the smell and texture. I’ve put off buying a Kindle for that very reason and even though I’m considering e-book publication, this is the argument for the other side. Excellent post.

    • I am very close to e-publishing myself. This prompted me to become more curious about the format. I love real books but I see the value of e-books as well. I hope both still have a place in our society for a long time.

  3. tamara says:

    Values are so funny. A single trip for two to the movie theater, with popcorn, is easily $30. A person could buy 30 self-published bargain books for that. A person could also set up a book blogging site and be inundated with free ebooks for life.

    I know that books offer great value for the money, and I’m an author, and yet, I have a hard time paying $10.99 for an ebook from a traditional publisher.

    • I agree, people can be very fickle creatures. I like the idea of getting more books for the same price as I may pay for just one. Although the debate I have to have with myself comes when there is a book I really want to read but its price is high. I suppose that will continue whether the book is paper or electronic. I like the idea that perhaps you could borrow that book from someone or somewhere in those times.

  4. pattisj says:

    I saw on my local library website that they offer e-books. I don’t have a reader, so haven’t checked into it. It’s hard for me to pass up a bound book. I suppose I’d need to look at a book on a screen to determine if that’s something I would find pleasurable with my older eyes.

    • I have only just had my first experiences with e-books. They are certainly different but not unenjoyable. The sensory details are lost though such as the feel, smell and weight of the book as you are reading it.

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