eBooks: A Frugal Minimalist’s Dream

I didn’t always like reading. When I was very young, my parents couldn’t get me to read. I was behind in the school reading level, and they spent hours with me trying to get me to learn to read. I wouldn’t have any of it, I just wasn’t interested.

I wasn’t interested, that is, until I found out that reading could actually be fun. I was pretty horse crazy as a little kid, and once I got my hands on some “horse books” I went from barely being able to read to a 12th grade reading level by the time I was out of elementary school.

After that, I couldn’t stop reading. I regularly used to get in trouble at school for reading a book during class instead paying attention to the teacher, and my collection of books expanded accordingly.

Things haven’t changed much since my horse crazy days, I still love to read. Unfortunately, I’m responsible for buying my own books now, and with my strict budget and debt repayment schedule, I can’t afford to purchase several books a month to satisfy my reading appetite.

Not only that, but I also have a hard time stomaching spending $20 or so per book. I love reading, but that’s a high cost for something I may very well read only once.

There’s also my minimalist tendencies to consider. I live in a 400 square foot house, with one book case. Needless to say, shelf real estate is at a premium. The poor thing is already heaving and groaning under the weight of all my books, I can’t add any more. I also hate lugging piles of books from apartment to apartment, and since I move fairly frequently, this is a factor that can’t be ignored.

eBooks to the Rescue

I’ve only recently come around to the ebook craze. I was very resistant at first because I never thought I’d be able to get used to reading a book on a screen. I was also deeply attached to the idea of being able to physically handle my books and turn the pages.

Things started to change when I got my smart phone. It was the first device I was able to read a book on, and it’s when my opinion started to turn. I had some books in storage and instead of digging them out, I downloaded their ebook counterparts, which happened to be free because they were classics.

The convenience of ebooks came immediately apparent. Since I was reading them primarily on my smart phone, I always had one with me. I could read my book literally anywhere, without having to lug a big heavy book around in my purse. I could also read it at night, in bed, without having to turn a lamp on. My fiance really appreciated this.

eBooks are a Minimalist‘s Dream

At first the idea of not being able to handle the physical book was disconcerting. I didn’t like the idea of staring into a screen to get my reading fix. Once I actually tried it, however, I realized that the very thing I took to be a draw back, was actually a perk. I could read a whole book without ever having to actually touch a book. That means no extra weight on my shelves, no extra space being taken up in storage, and absolutely no extra boxes to lug into a moving van.

eBooks are Cheaper!

Not only are ebooks easier on my limited space situation, they’re also easier on my wallet. I always had a hard time buying books that were new releases. Most books are offered in hardcover first, which can run up to $30 in Canada. I remember stalking certain books for months waiting for the soft cover to come out, and waiting still longer for that version of the book to go on sale or turn up used.

J.K. Rowling’s new book, Casual Vacancy is available on Amazon.ca for $26.96 in hardcover right now. In the Google Play store, it’s available as an ebook for $14.99. I’m on a pretty limited budget, so a $12 savings (without even factoring in taxes and shipping) is significant enough to make me take notice.

Letting Go of The Old, Embracing the New

Must like making the transition from DVDs to Netflix, switching from real books to ebooks is a strange change. To me though, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, and getting used to making ebooks my primary source of reading material has been a great decision that satisfies both my frugality, and my inner minimalist.

Do you use ebooks?

Comments

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's my favorite part about ebooks! Being a minimalist, I love not having to lug a book on trips or in my purse.

  1. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    I love ebooks! I got a Kindle a few years ago and have not looked back. I still like the feeling of holding a book in my hand, but they're not as practical and do cost more money. With the Kindle I can carry around as many books as I want and it only weighs a few ounces.

  2. leslie says

    What are libraries like in Canada? I ask because you did not mention them in your post and now I wonder if I've been under-appreciating them this whole time.

    I don't own an ereader, I don't want to. I just don't see the need. Yes, for traveling it is amazing, I understand that part of it. But for living, I just don't see the appeal. It's not even that I don't want to read a book on a screen, I just like the physical presence of books. For me this is an emotional decision, not a logical one. I have been a voracious reader since kindergarten! As an early child at home, books were my friends. I would sit in the middle of the floor with a pile of books encircling me and read my way out. :)

    Also, I read a lot of graphic novels/comics so I guess I would need one of the color ones so I don't miss out on the colored illustrations and, if I remember correctly, the screens that show color aren't the best for ebook reading anyway.
    My recent post A Letter To My Student Loans

    • mochiandmacarons says

      This is why I got the iPad. For my manga and for my piano sheet music. Otherwise, all the other e-readers are too small and not backlit. You need at least 10"…

      • @myalternatlife says

        I was definitely the same as you as a kid, I would whip through every book in my path (provided it was interesting).

        I live in a rural area so I'm not close to public libraries unfortunately, otherwise I would definitely try to make use of that!

  3. Sam says

    I still love real books, but my kindle is very convenient. My library offers an e-book program online where you can check out e-books for free! I absolutely love that & it helps save money!

    • Brian says

      My library does the same thing! I don't read a ton of books (mostly because I like non-fiction and it can be hard to find a good non-fiction book), but when I do, I have my parents borrow it from the library on their ereader and I enjoy it. It's awesome!

      • @myalternatlife says

        That's a great idea and I bet that'll lead to increased usage of public library services. Can't beat that kind of convenience and competitive cost.

  4. Melissa says

    I love my Kindle, but for some reason all of the books I want to read are more expensive in their e-version than in paperback. Maybe I'm doing something wrong… but when I go to Amazon, both The Firm by John Grisham and Life of Pi (just 2 examples) are cheaper in paperback form than ebook. Frustrating… maybe they're only cheaper than the hardcover versions…

  5. @PlungedinDebt says

    I don't have an e-reader but would like to eventually get one! I love reading but haven't had much time as of late to do it with kiddo, hubby/family and blog. I need to get back into it though for sure. I remember when I saw my first e-reader, my husbands aunt showed it to me, she's a librarian and was one of the first people to receive a kindle, before they were available to the public to buy. I laughed and didn't think it would actually catch on….hahah.

    • @myalternatlife says

      I definitely understand being too busy. I'd love to be reading right now but there's just so much to do! I always manage to find a few minutes in the day though, even when I was in school and taking six courses – it's my way of relaxing.

  6. Christopher @ This that and the MBA says

    I cant stand reading books. I love reading articles on peoples post as long as they are not too long…i have a very short attention span…i am really surprised i stayed with blogging for this long….My wife is trying to get me to get one of these reader things for our kids and her so she can read them books…

    aside…working in finance…some of older finance folks are like this..they have trouble emmbracing the new…they want their excel spreadsheets still even though we can generate it in pdf and it looks much cleaner.

    • @myalternatlife says

      I find that lately I often only read a few pages at a time which can make finishing an entire book a several month long affair! I definitely understand where you're coming from though, in this day and age having the patience to sit down with a book is probably more rare than it used to be.

  7. Greg@ClubThrifty says

    Love me some reading on the Kindle! For the most part, any books that I want to keep I buy on my kindle. Any books that I just want to read/skim through (mostly non-fiction), I try to check out from the library.

    I wasn't sure that I was going to like it at first, but I really do love my Kindle. It is lightweight, easy to read, and I can prety much download any book I want right to my device. It rocks my socks off!
    My recent post Tips for Job Seekers – The “What Not to do” Edition

    • @myalternatlife says

      I'll still buy a book that I'm really in love with, just like I'll buy the DVD of a really great movie, but for the most part, I'm cool with the electronic version of things.

  8. Ashlee says

    I'm yet to jump on the ebook wagon, but I hope to very soon! I love the fact that they are much cheaper and are right at your finger tips. Plus you save on gas by not having to drive to the store to purchase it. What app did you use on your smart phone for reading?

    • @myalternatlife says

      I use Google Play and Aldiko. Google has a great selection in their online store, and being an android user that just makes sense for me. If I'm using a downloaded book though, I load it up through Aldiko.

    • @myalternatlife says

      I haven't invested in an actual eReader yet, but I'm looking forward to when I can finally afford one and get to learn about all of the different versions out there.

  9. mochiandmacarons says

    You have seen my light! :) <— minimalist light that is.

    I like libraries too, but I'm never in the same city for more than 3-6 months to really make use of it.

    I buy books all the time on my iPad, and now I have to stop because I have a ton I have to get through before I buy any more.

    I like that it is cheaper than paper books, but as it is electronic, why the hell is it still around $10 a book rather than $5?

    Yarrrgh. Guess all those people in between making paper books, editing, and doing all the printing have to get paid with those profits too.
    My recent post Would women have a baby just to stop working?

    • @myalternatlife says

      They charge $10 because we the people still think we're getting a deal because it's cheaper than a paperback. Unfortunately I doubt that cost has anything to do with cost of production, it's probably because that's the most they can get away with. :(

  10. Tanner says

    Wow, I've JUST been thinking about this, big time. I used to love to read, but I stopped a few years back. Recently I bought my first set of books in a long, long time and it really got me wanting to read some more. However, I just can't see myself spending the money for books (or sacrificing the space in my little room). But I thought, an e-reader would be fantastic, especially a Kindle-type, since I have Amazon Prime. Books are often cheaper too. I'm still quite unsure, but I can see that as a possibility. Moving a kindle >>>>> moving a box of heavy books I may not again read for months/years.
    My recent post Review of Nov Goals

  11. missamanda101 says

    I'm one of those people that prefer having the real book on my shelf opposed to an ereader, but I certainly understand its appeal. I sit at a computer all day, and prefer to put the screens away (as much as I can) when I get home.

    • @myalternatlife says

      Oh I can definitely understand that since I sit in front of a computer all day too. On the days that my eyes are really tired from a computer screen, I set my phone to "night version" where the print is white print on a black background. Much easier on the eyes.

  12. iheartbudgets says

    Unfortunately, I don't read much at all outside of websites. It's really a shame, because there was a time in my life where I read quite a bit and really enjoyed it. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten a kindle yet….hmmmmm..
    My recent post Mortgage Refinance Completed!

  13. therandompath says

    I love to read!!! But, I haven't really jumped on the e-reader bandwagon just yet. I have a kindle that my husband won in a contest, and I haven't really utilized it yet. But like you said, books are so expensive which is why I'm always at the library.
    My recent post Recap: Goals For November

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's true there are tons of free ebooks out there including plenty of classics. Definitely cheaper than buying a physical copy.

  14. Madison says

    I'm slowly coming around getting ebooks. There are definitely some great advantages to getting ebooks! But I'm still hesitant to purchase everything in an ebook. There are benefits of having a physical copy of a book.

    You just read a book and want to recommend it to a friend. The library has a long waiting list, and your friend doesn't want to buy it. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a physical copy to loan your friend to read?

    The Amazon lending library is not very convenient in my opinion. The books I want aren't lendable! And I've never looked through the T&C to know if it's actually legally okay to loan a friend the pdf/mobi/epub/other format copy of any ebook you purchase.

    As far as I know there also isn't a way to sell an ebook. Maybe I bought a book but didn't like it that much so I'd like to sell it to someone else. This is very common with used physical books.
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    • @myalternatlife says

      These are all good points and there's no getting around the fact that lending eBooks is almost impossible without breaking the law.

    • @myalternatlife says

      One of my favourite things about ebooks is that I can buy new ones from anywhere – even at the airport (which for some reason is where I always seem to finish books). No searching out a bookstore while on trips.

    • @myalternatlife says

      Totally agree, plus I like the idea that my purchases are stored in the cloud, safe from thieves, fire, or water damage. :)

  15. LivingDFRocks! says

    I'm a slow, slow convert to ebooks. I just love the idea of a cup of tea and snuggling under a blanket and turning the pages while reading a good book. With all the travelling I do, it's much more pratical for me to get an E-reader so we'll see.
    My recent post My Weekly T.G.I.F.

    • @myalternatlife says

      I thought I'd be like that too, but I found I adjusted pretty easier to snuggling up with my phone instead of a book. In fact, it's much easier to flickr the pages of my ebook on my phone than it is to deal with some bigger and heavier books.

  16. Mary says

    I really love reading a regular book and often can find used titles for cheaper than the e-version. However, I also love the convenience of my Kindle: that I can travel with 20 books and only have one slim item to carry. I also really enjoy being able to check out library books whenever and wherever I want.
    My recent post Used vs New Clothing

    • @myalternatlife says

      I'll never get tired of perusing a used bookstore that's for sure, but I think from now on I'm going to only buy special books that I want a physical copy of. For everything else I'm going to stick to eBooks.

  17. Kaileigh says

    I got my Kindle Fire for my birthday about two months ago and I love it. I'm so happy to have made the big switch over to e-books. I never thought I would make the jump because I love books so much, but it's so great to be able to throw my Kindle Fire in my purse and have it with me wherever I am. And, if I decide to move, so many less boxes!
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  18. edwardra3 says

    I'm not much for minimalism (I love me, my stuff), but I'm a huge reader. In middle school, I won an award for being an "enthusiastic reader" and was nominated again in high school. I even got a small scholarship from my local library! But I have more or less completely switched to ebooks. Of the 27 books I have read this year so far, only two have been physical copies. One was a giveaway prize that I won and the other I couldn't find the ebook version available, so I had to borrow the paperback from the library.

    It also took my brother the right book to get hooked on reading. He used to hate to read, but when he got started on Eragon, he can't put them down now.
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