Mar
31
2011

  The Curse of the Kindle

Up until now, I've been very happy with the Kindle my brother gave me for Christmas. Even now, I'm still very happy with it, but I think I've had my first experience of the "dark side" of Kindle ownership.

Someone recommended a book to me, so the first thing I did was look it up on Amazon.com. It was over $10, so I then checked to see if it was available at the library, and it was! I placed a hold on the book so it would be delivered to the Crozet branch. Before W, I would've just stopped by whatever branch had the available copy the next time I was out running errands. But since W, I need to limit the number of stops I make when running errands, and a trip to the library on errand day rarely makes the cut. So it's actually easier to make a special trip into Crozet than to add another stop to the larger errand day.

Here's the Kindle dilemma. There is a version of the book I want for the Kindle. But it's $12. Since T and I had our budget reality-check, I've given up my "chardonnay rule". Before W, I would've stopped into any bar or restaurant in NYC for a glass of wine if I felt like one. The average cost for a glass at the time was $15. So I rationalized that since I would spend that much without giving it much thought other than that's what I wanted right then, I shouldn't waste my time thinking about ANY purchase under $15. And it really did simplify my life. No driving to another store to save a dollar or two, no agonizing over whether I really wanted a subscription to a magazine, if I wanted it that second, and it was <$15, then I got it, end of story.

But that was when we had household income. I no longer have a dollar threshold under which I don't dither. So I have to make a decision about whether to buy a book or not.

When the options were 1) wait a few days/weeks for the book to be available in the library, 2) wait a few days/weeks for the book to be delivered from an online purchase, or 3) go to the bookstore to buy the book, then it was fairly easy for me to choose the free option of waiting for it at the library. It's nearly the same level of convenience as the online option, with the benefit of being free. The effort involved with actually going to a physical bookstore rarely appealed to me, because a 24 mile round-trip drive isn't exactly instant gratification, either.

But the Kindle does offer instant gratification. You literally click a few buttons and have your book in your hand. It's even a little easier than buying something online. So now the choices are effectively the best "old" option-- wait a few days then pick up the book at the library, versus the best "new" option-- pay to make the book appear instantaneously in my hands.

For this book, I opted to get it from the library. I'll be able to pick it up tomorrow. If I hadn't had ballet this evening, I would've gone to get it this afternoon. But the whole time I'm waiting for it, I keep thinking, "hmmm. If I would have been willing to pay $12 I could have been done reading it already." This thought is very distracting to me, I'm not sure why it's sticking in my head. There's no particular reason why I need to read the book right away, I just feel like it. It's not like I don't have other books I could read in the meantime. Yet it's still taunting me, every time I see the Kindle I think, "my book could have already been on there by now."

If only the Kindle version would have been under $6, then I probably would have just gotten it. But the fact that it cost MORE than the physical book online kind of turned me off. So the new economic decisions I am faced with since getting the Kindle are the curse of the Kindle.