E-books vs. physical books

I’m a big lover of physical books. I like holding them in my hands, smelling the new page smell (or old page smell, if I’m doing research), loaning my precious babies out to trusted friends so that they can experience the joy of a new author, exploring library and store shelves looking for new titles. There’s pretty much nothing about physical books that I don’t like, except for having to pack dozens of boxes of them when it’s time to move.

But I’m also a fan of e-books. When I was in Nain, Labrador, last year, having an e-reader was a godsend. I was only allowed to pack 40 lbs. to take with me for a month-long trip and I wouldn’t have survived without my e-reader. (No public library in Nain, unfortunately. At least not one I could access.) But what I really about e-books is that they’re usually discounted in e-format. After all, the publisher is saving on printing costs so I believe that e-books should always be cheaper than their physical counterparts. Always. Plus, when the e-book is cheaper than the physical book, I’m sometimes more inclined to try out a new author since I’m spending $5 to $15 instead of $10 to $20. Of course, when I love a book that I have in e-format, I’m tempted to buy them again as physical books because there are few things I love better than curling up with a book, and holding an e-reader can be cumbersome sometimes since they’re definitely less cozy than a paperback.

Which brings me to my dilemma. I have the first three books in Jennifer Estep‘s Elemental Assassin series on my e-reader and the fourth book, Tangled Threads, has just been released. This time, though, it’s cheaper for me to buy it as a physical book than an e-book. The difference is anywhere between $0.50 to $3.17, which is pretty much 1/3 of the price of the novel. Not a big deal for one novel but if what about the next book in the series? Or what if this is a new trend in e-publishing? The frugal part of me says go with The Book Depository, and most of you are probably nodding along with that idea. But there’s also a part of me that screams against this because I like my books to match. I have no control over matching covers and will at some point rant about these changes (particularly with the Laurell K. Hamilton books, for which the cover design seems to change every four novels–or perhaps every contract?). I can’t stop publishers from switching/upgrading from mass market paperback to hardcover, or trade paperback to hardcover, or any combination therein, in the middle of a series when the author starts generating appropriate numbers (which I celebrate because I want my authors to be successful even if it does make my bookshelf look lumpy). What I can control is the format in which I purchase said books. I don’t mind jumping from paperback to hardcover when I love the author, mostly because I’m impatient but also because this means that the author is making more from his or her royalties, which is great. But switching from e-book to physical book? This is the first time I’ve had to think about it and I don’t know what to do because I know I’ll end up ordering Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom as physical books if I buy Tangled Threads in that format. It might not happen now but it’ll happen in the near future because it’s going to bother me.

Thoughts, gentle readers?

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