I read mostly nonfiction. I buy most books digital or audio first and if I really like it I buy a physical copy to keep.
Why the digital book first
- It’s portable so I can read it on my commute in the train or at the gym (if audio)
- It syncs across devices so I know where I left off on another device. With first-time reads you often have to push through parts, and having it in sync everywhere helps.
- It’s usually cheaper.
- I’ve moved every few years, sometimes internationally. I probably still have a bunch of moving left in my life.
Then, if I really enjoyed it, I get a second, physical one (probably <1/10th of the time) because:
- If portability wasn’t an issue I enjoy the tactile feel of a real book. I think tactile feedback adds richness to it in a way that my conscious brain can’t yet pick up on.
- With a paper book I always have a better sense of where I am, and I form memory for where physically different parts of the book are, especially with re-reading.
- It helps me really remember that every book I have on the shelf is something I really value.
- The kinds of notes I can take on a paper book can be visual and richer — pencils, pens, columns, post-it notes, inserts, etc.
- Some of my absolute favorite books have ended up looking like this, but also tattered.