A few weeks ago, I commented on Twitter that one of my favorite activities is pre-ordering e-books:
Most of the time, it’s a wonderful surprise when, like magic, a book appears on my Kindle.
However, sometimes the order arrives at an inopportune time, such as when I’m in the middle of too many other books, when I have too many deadlines at work, when I have too many personal commitments — or all of the above. If I don’t end up reading a book within a week or two of its arrival, odds are good it will join the ever-growing list of books I downloaded and then forgot I owned.
Is this type of forgetfulness more likely to happen with e-books than with physical books?
As Molly from Wrapped Up In Books wrote recently, “That’s the thing about Kindle books…without a physical reminder, I tend to forget I have certain titles.”
While I’ve been known to forget about books on my bookshelf too—I didn’t remember I had Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World* until Molly’s review encouraged me to dust it off—it’s certainly harder to forget a novel that is physically present in my home, even if it’s nothing more than decoration. With e-books, though, newer titles eventually bury the older ones and push them out of view. Plus, because I don’t spend as much money on an e-book as I do on a physical copy, I buy them more impulsively. I don’t feel the same “buyer’s remorse” that might compel me to read a physical copy. As a result, e-books might just be easier to forget.
Whatever the reason, a review of my e-book orders has revealed many titles I am still interested in reading, like Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (purchased 12/17/12), and others I am not, like Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (downloaded 9/27/12). For those that will remain forever unopened on my e-reader, it’s too bad that I can’t give them away.
*For my thoughts on this novel, see Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World: A Book Law Students Should Read. Really, everyone should read it.