November 30, 2012

My Ebook Purchasing Rules

I received my Kindle a little over a year ago as a graduation gift. Of course by then I had heard all about the ebook revolution and was excited to have my own ereader, although I will admit that I wasn't quite sure how frequently I would read books on that versus paper copies. And I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get as much information out of books read digitally compared to their printed counterparts. But for the most part I do enjoy reading books on my Kindle. This is me, however, so of course I have stipulation in terms of what books I read and purchase via my Kindle. Below are some of my top considerations when I'm trying to decide whether or not to purchase an ebook.


As a general rule, I am less likely to want to read or even buy a series. Both continuing and finished series pose certain issues for me. Finished series still require me to spend a lot of time reading in this one particular world, while new/continuing series have the added disadvantages of forcing me to keep up with it for years and potentially pay escalating prices for each new book. Now as this relates to ebooks, I mostly try to avoid purchasing ebooks for ongoing series. I'm starting to come around in terms of duologies, however, but that's about where I want to draw the line. I tend to read series only once anyway (for me, a series contains four or more books), so why spend money and use up space on my Kindle for that?


Before my Kindle, my decision of whether or not to buy a book was rather simple: do I think that I'm going to want to re-read it at some point? I love re-reading books, and have probably read the majority of the books I own more than once. If I was just curious to read the book but didn't view it as re-readable, then I'd check the book out of the library. I still haven't figured out where ebooks should fall in this dichotomy that I created. It's possible that I could re-read books on my Kindle, but there's just something so nice about going over to a bookshelf (or some boxes) and searching among my books for an older read. I wonder if re-reading Kindle books will fill me with the same sense of sentimentality. I should hope so. But my other issue is that I love re-reading specific scenes more than re-reading entire books, and searching for particular parts is much more difficult on an ereader.


Right now this isn't too much of a concern because I don't have many people within proximity that I could share my books with. However, this is still a consideration for me, especially in terms of my family and boyfriend. Is this book something that I'd think they would also enjoy reading? If so, then I have to really think hard about purchasing an ebook, because I'm not going to let them borrow my Kindle and deprive me of access to all of my books. Owning an ebook definitely limits how stories can be shared.


If drawings or maps are kind of essential to the book then I'm probably not going to want to purchase it for my black and white Kindle. I suppose this wouldn't be quite as much of an issue if I were to get a Kindle Fire or another color e-reader. But I still do think that digitizing images does change the way that we see them.


From what I understand, buying an ebook from Amazon is very similar to buying music from iTunes - technically what you own is a license to read the material but that's it. As this article on ZDNet explains, "all that cash you have paid was simply to access these books on your Kindle. You have not paid to own the books." All we own via Kindle, Nook, iPads, or other ereaders is a license to the material, not the material itself. Now, I'd be okay with that if I found the book at a reasonable price. However, I think it's ridiculous to charge $9.99 or more for rights to a digital copy of a book when I can borrow the book from my library for free or buy the physical book for only a few dollars more. I want to make sure that the prices takes into account the limitations of owning an ebook.

And then the one thing that can cause me to ignore my self-imposed rules:

Amazon gift cards

Amazon gift cards are my downfall to all the rules I try to establish on buying ebooks. I use my Amazon gift cards less judiciously than I have in the past when I had concerns like shipping and handling. Right now I have a bunch of credit stocked up in my account, which allows me to download ebooks without affecting my bank account at all. If I didn't have the balance of these Amazon gift cards and was still spending "real" money on my ebooks, then there would be far less on my Kindle. I also spend many hours a month searching for reasonable ebook deals on

In general, however, I tend to stick to these rules, and I can only hope that I continue to as the pressure to read and buy more increases the longer that I write on this blog. I am also a huge advocate for public libraries. They're exist to serve the print and digital media needs of their communities, they're free, and they're usually pretty easily accessible. If books don't fit my Kindle purchase criteria, then I am trying to request them from the library.

What things do you keep in mind for buying an ebook?
author image


Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. My only rule is I will only read books on my e-reader if I don't have to purchase them.

    1. haha I was with you for a while. But the good books aren't free and Amazon gift cards make me feel like they're free. Kind of.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I strive to make my blog the very best it can possibly be and I appreciate each and every comment on here.