Ebook readers have grown in popularity in recent years as prices have come down and more consumers have recognized their benefits. Whether buying an ebook reader makes financial sense for you will depend on many factors. This article discusses the financial pros and cons of ebook readers.
Financial Cons of Ebook Readers
Still Expensive. Even though prices for ebook readers have come down, they are still expensive. Currently, a new ebook reader will probably cost you $100 or perhaps much more, depending on the model you choose.
Won’t Always Save on Books. Books downloaded on an ebook reader aren’t always cheaper than if you buy hardback or paperback versions at a bookstore or online, especially best sellers that are being heavily discounted by book stores.
May Tempt You to Splurge. Having an ebook reader may cause you to buy more books than you would otherwise, especially if you receive email and text alerts about books of interest that make impulse purchases tempting and easy.
Financial Pros of Ebook Readers
May Save on Many Books. You probably will be able to find many ebooks at lower prices than you would pay at a bookstore. This is even more true if you travel and often shop for books at airport bookstores where prices are high. With an ebook reader, you can browse airport bookstores for titles of interest and then comparison shop for the comparable ebook.
Free Books; Can’t Get Less Expensive Than That. Many books are available to download free. In particular, many classics and books for which the copyright has expired can be downloaded free, so there is a large, virtual library available for free at your finger tips with an ebook reader.
Check Out Books before You Buy. You can check out an ebook free before purchasing. In a book store, you look through the contents of a book, or even read a chapter, before deciding to buy, which can help you avoid purchase mistakes. Likewise, with an ebook, you can read a chapter free before purchasing.
Save Time and Travel Cost. Downloading books will save you the time and travel cost of visiting a bookstore. While this may seem trivial, depending on how far you have to drive to get to a bookstore, it can add up. The Internal Revenue Service allows businesses to deduct $0.50 per mile when using a personal car on business. Based on this figure, if it is five miles to your local bookstore, or ten miles round trip, each trip costs you $5 in gas and wear and tear on your car. Even if you consider this figure excessive and view $0.025 per mile as more reasonable, you can see how quickly transportation costs can add up.
From a purely financial standpoint, ebook readers make the most sense if you are an avid reader, assuming that you can, on average, save even a small amount of money on each book you purchase. The more books you purchase, the more you save and, therefore, the quicker you will recover the cost of your ebook reader. If you are an occasional reader, your payback period may be too long to justify an ebook reader financially.
Geoffrey A. Fowler and Marie C. Baca, online.wsj.com, A Look at the Reading Habits of E-Reader Owners – WSJ.com
Brett Arends, online.wsj.com, Should You Buy an E-Book
thesmarterwallet.com, Amazon Kindle Review: Electronic Book Reader Pros and cons