Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on April 11, 2012
The four reasons I’m buying more books than five years ago are (1) Internet interactivity, (2) second-hand markets online, (3) Amazon.com rewards points and (4) iPad.
The ability to interact over the Internet stimulates my book buying in two ways.
First, I can buy books with a mere mouse-click which is more convenient than driving to a store where the desired title may not even be in-stock. But there’s more to it than that.
Almost unconsciously I’ve become increasingly skilled at using Amazon’s tools for browsing. For example, Amazon routinely provides suggestions of alternate titles, similar to the one being considered for purchase. Another is the ability search for key words (e.g. topics) within many books remotely over the Net. It’s a more powerful way to learn how much of a topic-of-interest might be covered in a given book than examining the index of a physical book.
Second, I’ve become an active commenter on blogs and online newspapers covering topics of interest. Consequently, I occasionally get into debates. In order to support my viewpoint – or sometimes to learn another – I’ll search Amazon for pertinent titles. Some I will merely inspect with the “Look Inside” feature, but others I will buy.
Perhaps the best example is the interest I’ve taken in the Disunion series of The New York Times. Disunion is an approximate four-year series commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Presumably it will end around June of 2015. There are about four-to-five articles weekly corresponding to events of 150 years-ago on the same month and date. Typically the articles are authored by academics, or popular writers of American history.
A few months after it started, I was reading Disunion habitually. By last Christmas I was sufficiently motivated to submit an article of my own. It was published in January. That success led me to submit later drafts. Researching each topic prompted me to purchase additional books. When they were available, I would often buy e-books because they could be acquired almost instantly. Quick information access is important when I was immersed in writing an article draft.
But it was also important that Amazon and Google have a number of public domain e-books available at no charge. For example, presently I am researching the life of Henry Morton Stanley. Google has Stanley’s autobiography for free. But upon reading it, I could sense exaggeration, which led me to discover an authoritative biography at Amazon. To write a good article on Stanley, I need both…and more.
Second-Hand Markets Online
Amazon Marketplace is a service enabling most anyone with an Amazon account to sell merchandise online. Thus, when checking titles of interest I routinely search toward the bottom of the screen to see if less expensive copies are available at Amazon Marketplace. If the merchant has a reliable rating and I can save a few dollars, I’ll often order books from Amazon Marketplace. Books in “good” condition can often be bought at half price. Sometimes even “new” copies have favorable prices. Some of the merchants apparently profit by shipping the books at lower cost than the typical $4.00 shipping allowance. Not infrequently, I’ve purchased books for a penny and paid the shipping charge of four dollars.
My trust that Amazon quickly settles most disputes enables me to buy with confidence. Only once has a single merchant failed to honor a sale and Amazon quickly credited my account. Although I generally prefer the prompt delivery of an e-book, I will buy from Amazon Marketplace if the price differential is significant – as it often is among newly published books where publishers dictate “agency pricing” for e-books.
Amazon.com Rewards Points
Since my bank only pays negligible interest on Money-Market Accounts, I was it angered the bank retains a $125 annual fee. Consequently, I got a credit card from Amazon providing rewards-points. Amazon makes it easy to convert the rewards-points into purchasing credits at their online store. Whenever rewards-points credits are available it gives me a false sense of buying books for “free”. The feeling prompts me to buy books when I might otherwise fail to act with a debit card knowing that the debit will be deducted from my bank account. Also, for me, using Amazon rewards-points is an Amazon.com-specific learned behavior. I’ve not yet learned how to use the points at other merchants.
My iPad is a constant companion. Thus, if I am stuck in a waiting room at a doctor’s office, it’s easy to turn it on and continue reading a book that I “put down” the night before. The iPad makes it possible to carry around a large number of books. Moreover, since the iPad is a multifunction device, it provides more reasons to “take it with me” as opposed to a Kindle.
While this post describes my personal reasons for buying more books, I’m curious to learn how the book-buying habits of Inside Digital Media subscribers might have changed in the past five years. You are invited to share your experiences by emailing me at pleigh1(at)tampabay.rr.com, or commenting at my blog, Inside Digital Media.