E-books: some household math

Chez O’Leary, we track expenses way too closely, so I ask for some indulgence when I say that, from 2000 through the first quarter of 2009, we bought $8,503 worth of books across 280 different purchases. That comes down to about 2.5 purchases a month, averaging $30.36 a purchase or $77.28 a month.

In the reported time frame, we have had children attending two different colleges, so I hasten to add that this does exclude textbooks.

In February, my wife ordered and started to use the Kindle 2. Since buying the Kindle, we’ve increased the number of purchases (six in six weeks), about twice what we were doing before. But spending is down, as we’re ordering just one book at a time, and the average purchase is $7.32. Total spending is about half of what it was before.

There are caveats: one month, just getting started, doesn’t include holiday spending (all duly noted).

There is debate about whether e-books are good or bad for the book business; I’m of the mind that the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. That said, a technology that cuts our book spending by 50% without cutting our reading sounds like a good thing in a household where every dollar gets tracked. The question is, how do publishers make that work?

I’ll come back to this topic again as data rolls in. I’m not sure if I’ll tell my wife, though.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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