Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Reader's Dilemna

I've had a serious problem for years.

The problem is that I constantly buy too many books every year - way more than I can possible read in that same year. You see, I love reading, and I love books, but I'm a slow reader and I've found in the past 5 years that I have much smaller chunks of time for reading and yet my tastes in what I WANT to read has expanded. What is a book nerd to do?

Two things are helping me with this: eBooks and audio books.

eBooks, particularly ones I can carry around on my iPhone, which is always on me, are helping me get more read. If I'm ever stuck somewhere for more than a couple of minutes, I can make the best use of my time by pulling out my iPhone and filling in the "waiting" with reading.

I don't yet own a KoboReader (affilate link), but tends to be the where I've done most of my ereading. (though I have half a dozen installed eBook applications on my iPhone and have bought eBooks on pretty much every platform -- part of my book-buying sickness seems to have transcended into the digital landscape -- I've gravitated to Kobo's platforms/applications)

Kobo wifi eReader

The second thing that is helping me read more would be audiobooks. There are a ton of great places to get audio books, such as (free serialized books delivered in podcast format) the hot new iambik (a collection of literary fiction from wonderful independent presses) and the classic (an acoustical liberation of books in the public domain -- man I wish I had that when I was attempting to read 4 Victorian novels a week when getting my English Language & Literature degree). BTW, both iambik and LivriVox were projects brought into the world by Hugh McGuire, one of my literary/techy heros (he brings both those worlds together quite beautifully, satisfying book nerds and tech fans alike)

Similar to my ebook dipping into various pools, I consume my audio books through various sources. One of the ones with the widest content for new books would be (affilate link)

Audiobooks at! is a bit different in that you don't pay per book, but it's more of a combination between single ebook purchases and a subscription fee. The subscription fee starts at $7.49 per month for 1 book credit per month, then, after the first 3, moves to $14.95/month for the basic service. So, without purchasing anything else, you can get 12 audio books for $180.00 (that's assuming the full price - first year using the first 3 month promotion would be closer to $160) -- given the purchase price for books on CD (and the limited availability of them compared to an instant download, that's a pretty decent deal, because the cost would likely be well over $300.

I used to think that listening to an audio book was "cheating" and less work than reading a book. However, taking advantage of various audio book options that exist now, I've been able to "read" while doing other mundane tasks -- such as driving and walking to work, waiting for the train or bus, washing the dishes, going for a jog, etc.  I had tried listening to books many years ago and wasn't impressed with the production of them -- however, I've found that, if the narrator is a good one, and the production quality is sound (sorry, couldn't resist the pun), listening to a book can be a very rewarding experience.

In any case, just considering these two options of eBooks and audio, I've been able to slip in more reading than before.

So, I still have the problem of buying more books (now in various formats) than I can read - but at least I can consume these books in various forms and at different times.  For example, currently, I'm actively reading an ebook, listening to an audiobook and reading a hardcover book. I can have 3 or more books on the go, depending on where I am and what format is most convenient for me to consume in different situations.

Got to love that.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, yes I buy more books in a year than I can consume, but that also gives me the incredibly wonderful pleasure of finding a book that's been in my "to read" pile for half a decade and re-discovering it (ie, reliving the historic joy of wanting to read it in the first place, then the joy of actually digging into it -- it's like a self-gift that keeps on giving)

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