I’ve had my Amazon Kindle ebook reader for a few days now, and my Kindle unboxing video and “first impressions” post has generated a TON of great comments, and I’ve tried to respond to them all. I wrote WAY more in responding to people’s comments than I did in the original post, so make sure you go read through it all if you’re interested.
One of the questions that came up a lot was “Aren’t you concerned that you’re wasting money on DRM’ed ebooks that you might not be able to read again in a decade?” It’s a very valid questions, and I posted my thoughts in the comment thread. But I thought of one more thing, that started as just another comment to my own post, but grew really long, and became this post.
Here’s the way I’ve always looked at ebooks and DRM and value. For background sake, you should know that I’ve spent hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on ebooks in my life, mostly from eReader (formerly Palm Digital Media, formerly Peanut Press), and ready on the various Windows Mobile devices that have found themselves in my possession over the years.
Instead of comparing the cost of a DRM’ed ebook that I’ll, in all likelihood, only ever read once, I look at it this way: Is the $9.99 (or less – $9.99 is about as much as I’ll pay for an ebook) worth the number of hours of entertainment you get from it?
- A movie gives you roughly two hours of entertainment/diversion for about $10. More if you buy snacks (I always buy snacks!). Or you can pay $20 for the DVD. Say $5 to $15 an hour.
- A magazine gives ME maybe a couple of hours of entertainment for about $5. $2.50 an hour.
- A video game is $50 (or $29 for DS games) for, realistically a dozen hours of entertainment $4 an hour.
- A nice dinner out with my wife is maybe $30 to $50 (we don’t go to fancy places) for a couple of hours of enjoyment. $25 an hour.
- Gadgets (hardware – cameras, mobile devices, computer stuff, etc.) are a little harder to figure, because the range of cost and “hours of entertainment” vary so wildly. But the “dollar per hour of entertainment” factor HAS to be super high here, for much money as I spend on it all. So I can’t put an hourly rate on this one. It’s more like a lifestyle.
Finally, an ebook, at less than $10, takes me at least several hours to get through (average maybe 10? 15?), spread out over the course of a few days or weeks. I figure it works out to less than $1 an hour. To me, that’s a tremendous value.
I don’t expect any real lasting value or return from the entertainment sources I listed above (with the notable exception of video games – I’m a collector, and I always keep the good ones). I almost never go back and read a book again. There are some exceptions – I try to read The Lord of the Rings once a year or so. I’ve read The Dark Tower series twice (in ebook form). I’ve read most of Cory Doctorow’s stuff at least twice.
I just don’t expect much lasting value out of most books I read. If there’s a book that I REALLY want to keep, or have around in the future, for reference, or nostalgia, or whatever, I just buy the dead tree version. And the same “bang for the buck” applies to dead trees, too, minus the convenience of ebooks: acquiring them wirelessly, frictionlessly, carrying around a few hundred of them in my pocket at all times, and being able to read them whenever and wherever I have a few moments of “hostage time”.
Here’s what i figure an ebook would cost, to get an equal amount of entertainment, at the same rate/factor as the sources above:
- Movies – $50 to $150
- Magazines – $25
- Video games – $40
- Dinner out with my wife – $250
So, for me, the “bang for tbe buck” or entertainment value quotient or however you want to think about it for ebooks is EXTREMELY high. Much higher than any of the other passtimes and habits I pursue for fun. Sure, the math and values here are fanciful, and are different for everyone, but for me, it’s a cheap habit, no matter how I look at it. Add in the bonus effects that none of those other sources have: books make me smarter, increase my vocabulary, exercise my imagination, inspire creativity, make my conversations more interesting, etc., and it’s a no brainer.
Hi, my name is Josh, and I say that ebooks are TOTALLY worth it.
Agree with me? Think I’m crazy? Want to share how much per hour you pay for entertainment? Drop a comment, and let’s talk.