It is roughly 2-2 1/2 weeks shy of my one year anniversary of getting my first e-reader, a Kindle.
Seriously, I think it is the best invention, second only to computers. In my pre-ereader days, I was able to obtain perhaps 5 books a year for my own personal bookshelves, excluding books borrowed from the library. This was mainly due to expense, as the typical trade paperback runs an average of $13-17 a pop, and a hardcover book much more than that.
And if you're a working stiff who scrapes by just to make the basic rent, car, electric and grocery bills, spending that kind of money on a book is a luxury, no matter how much you wish otherwise.
The other factor for the low purchase of physical books was space. There's only so much bookshelf space, and what little space I have is reserved for books I use in my research.
But that was then.
Fast forward to December 17, 2011. Excluding the four insanely addicting word puzzles I have on my Kindle, I have downloaded 271 books in the last eleven and a half months.
From 5 books a year to 271.
That's phenomenal. And it simply would not be possible without an e-reader. Why?
1. I can obtain books for free. Yep--the magical price of zero. Classics, some titles published a couple of years ago, some published this year. But there's always a lag time for me in reading books, so it doesn't matter to me when they were published.
2. I can buy books at vastly more affordable prices. Just this week I downloaded a hugely popular fiction title for UNDER $5. That would NEVER happen with a paper book. Ever.
3. I don't have to be uncomfortable shopping in a crowd of people. I can shop from the privacy of my own home.
4. I can shop for books far more quickly with my Kindle.
5. Just as I organize my physical bookshelves by topic, so too, can I organize my Kindle. I have folders for Arizona History, Biblical/Christian Living, Civil War, Classics, Business/Marketing, Presidents/Government, and a whole host of other folders with as much variety in content as I desire.
6. Carrying my Kindle is equivalent to being able to carry my bookcase around with me wherever I go.
7. I don't have to search for a piece of paper to bookmark. Kindle does it for me.
These are just some of the benefits to readers. The way e-readers have benefitted writers is a whole other subject and just as exciting.
Honestly, the only possible drawback to e-readers that I can see is that for some types of non-fiction, e-readers are still not ideal. By that I mean books that use charts, graphs and other visual graphics are extremely hard to read even when zoomed on an e-reader, unless of course you have eagle eyes, which I don't.
But that's the beauty of it. I buy most of my books on Kindle, and save my physical bookshelves for non-fiction that I need to buy in paper format. I have ceased to buy paper copies of fiction altogether.
My Kindle is a magnificent blessing and I'm truly thankful for how it has revolutionized my life and given me more options as a reader.