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Digital vs. traditional books offers plenty to think about

At first blush, eBooks just seem like the cheaper option.

After all, if the publisher doesn't have to pay for all that paper and printing and shipping, they must be saving a bundle, right? Well, not exactly.

Let's have a look at a couple of popular titles. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson is available on Amazon.com's Kindle store for just $7.16. Sure, the paperback list price is $14.95, but if you head to Borders, you can snap up a physical copy for just $7.99. Kitty Kelley's enormous Oprah biography runs $9.99 in eBook format versus the whopping list price of $30. But even so, if you were to head to Barnes & Noble, you could get it for just $15.

So when you're deciding whether to take the plunge into eReader territory, the factors that will help you make your decision will be less tangible than price.

Of course, price will remain a consideration. It will take a substantial investment just to get started. Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader and Amazon's Kindle both run $259. The Sony Reader costs about the same, but you can get the pocket edition for about $150. Apple's iPad, which will act as an eReader through one of several applications, starts at $499. From there, you'll add the cost of books.

But are traditional or digital books a better use for your money? Only you can answer that question.

Do you like to keep books on hand, display them, share them? Do you like to read them in the tub? Do you tend to fall asleep with them in your hands at night, only to send them crashing to the floor? In that case, you may want to stick to hard copies.

Has your chiropractor ever scolded you for your tendency to carry multiple bulky, heavy books at once? Is space in your home at a premium? Once you decide you want to read a book, is it torturous waiting to get to the bookstore? On vacation, is your carry-on monopolized by reading material? Do you like to take notes on what you're reading and underline key passages? Then maybe an eReader is your thing.

Oh, and don't think your library days are done once you cross over to the digital side. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library's Download 2 Go offers free downloadable books readable on Adobe Digital Editions and instantly compatible with the Sony eReader. You can check out up to 20 titles at a time and they will automatically be returned at the end of the lending period. You can also view books on iPod, iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac and smartphones.

Decisions, decisions!

schristmann@buffnews.com

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