Kindle or Paper? (by Bethany)

written in my own heart's blood

The last installment in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is coming out tomorrow, and I still haven’t decided whether to buy in on my Kindle or in hardback. My general rule is that if I want to buy new novels, short story collections, or memoirs while they are in hardback, I buy them on my Kindle. The reduction in cost makes this move a no-brainer. Plus, since my Kindle can hold thousands of titles, buying new e-books is a great way to camouflage the fact that my book-buying obsession is absolutely fucking out of control. No, no, don’t mind me – I’m just reading a book on my Kindle. For all you know, it’s the only book on my Kindle. In fact, it’s the free dictionary that came with the Kindle. Kindly move along. Nothing to see here.

I make occasional exceptions for books that I think might be difficult, and if I know or expect that I will be teaching a book in the future, I must have a hard copy. My teaching career made me into a hard-core annotator. I mark not only the key passages that I intend to discuss in class (or that I would discuss in class if I were to teach the book) but also places where I was confused or had questions. If I think of witty things to say in class about a particular moment in a book, I jot down said witticism so I don’t forget. Also, sometimes I swear at the characters. It’s not uncommon to find margin notes in my books that say things like “Holy shit!” or simply “ASSHOLE.” I don’t generally say words like these in class, but writing these words down as I read the book for the first time helps me to remember how the book affected me on an emotional level when I read it for the first time.

Now, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is not going to be hard. I will not need to annotate it in order to understand it, and I can’t imagine a context in which I would ever teach it. This is a classic example of why I buy new books on the Kindle. Let’s do some comparison shopping: the list price of WIMOHB is $35. Amazon is selling the hardback for $19.76 (the year I was born! It’s a sign!), and other discount stores like Target and Costco will likely sell it for less than list price – maybe $25? $28? The Kindle book, however, is $11.99, AND, if I go the Kindle route I can start reading it the minute I wake up tomorrow, without having to wait for bookstore employees to wake up and brush their teeth and drink their damn coffee.

But I don’t know. I kind of want the hardback. I read all of Gabaldon’s other books in hard copy, and the idea of switching formats mid-series seems wrong to me, and I also want to be able to flip back easily and check up on details that I might have forgotten.

What do you think? For those of you who use Kindles, Nooks, or other e-readers, do you also still buy hard copies of some books? What criteria do you use?

Bonus points to anyone who can identify the Avenue Q reference in this post.

Happy reading, Gabaldon fans!

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