Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tipping Point

I started to read a collection of reviews by Algis Budrys this morning and found myself grumping that it is not available as an eBook. This grumping seemed to have been inspired by something on The Twitters yesterday where a friend commented that she liked the Kindle, as when she came to the end of a book whilst sitting on the toilet, it was quite easy to start the next one.

The Kindle (and the predecessor eBook gadgets that I've used—Bookeen, Newton, various PalmOS devices) have made this increasingly true for me and also have shifted my reading and buying habits. My purchases of mass market and trade paperbacks have gone almost to zero (only non-fiction seems to be bought in those formats, and only if I can find an eBook). Hardcover purchase is also way down, narrowing to an increasingly small number of authors that I also want to "collect" as well as "just read".

And, the place I reach (so to speak) for the next book is increasingly becoming electronic. I started the Budrys because it was on the shelf and I read a mention of him in an electronic collection of essays by Samuel R. Delany (Starboard Wine). This is the second collection of Delany essays I'm reading this year, as I finished the first, I started the second, because they were "next to each other" on the Kindle, in direct vision. The Budrys collection is on a physical shelf, not in direct sight. I started reading a number of the chapbooks by Alastair Reynolds in their electronic versions...I have them all as physical books (signed, for the most part), but they are not in "front" of me wherever I go.

No, I haven't stopped buying physical books. I doubt I ever will. The numbers will continue to shrink and focus. The amount of reading I do will continue, and probably increase (now that I'm adding more audiobooks into the mix, yes, that is "reading" for me). But the tool changes and splits and fractures into new forms.

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