I Solemnly Swear, So Help Me Jane Austen

I hadn't realized until recently how thoroughly my book-buying habits have changed. Pictured here is the current stack of books on my night table. I want to read these books - all of them - and I've had several of them since the day they released.

Note my Kindle, charging happily at the top of the stack. Why is my Kindle happy? Because it knows that I will pick it up first.

How. Did. This. Happen?!?

Two years ago, I was positive I would never be one of those people who read books electronically. If anyone had produced a Bible or a first edition of Pride and Prejudice, I'd have slapped my hand right to it and sworn as much.

I was certain that ereaders represented yet another Big Business attempt to create some unnecessary gadget for techomaniacs to ooh and aah over. Go ahead and add "dagnabbit" at the end of that. I deserve it.

With existing accounts at Amazon and B&N, downloading reader apps was simple enough. And reading on my computer was every bit as annoying as I'd assumed.

So there! I thought, haughtily concluding that the digital reading experience wouldn't be much better on an ereader. In a last-ditch effort to prove that those devices were either useless or from Satan, I bought one. I purchased and downloaded a couple of inexpensive indie-pubbed books to it. They weren't bad... and what's more, reading them on that newfangled device also wasn't bad. (Tammara: 0 / Satan: 1)

Still, I continued to purchase the majority of my books in hardback or trade paperback, because I wanted them for my personal library - a wall of bookcases in my study that gives me warm and fuzzy contented bookworm feelings whenever I look at it.

And then the worst possible conflict occurred: I read the online sample of a book I'd forgotten to pre-order, and I wanted it badly. I could have it on my ereader in about a minute. Uh-oh. Book in my hands in two days versus immediate gratification

Well, damn.

Since that day, my paper purchases gradually lessened as my digital purchases increased. I now do what many of my readers do: I buy nearly everything in digital form, and re-purchase my favorites in paper. Much of the time, they remain untouched. Those shelves are, more than ever, housing art.

I still occasionally buy books initially in paper form, especially from favorite authors. They sit prettily on my nightstand, or stacked in other "as yet unread" spots in my house. But apparently, it could be months before I get to them. (Who knew?) My personal stats for the books I read in 2012: 15% were read in paper; 85% were read on my ereader. Hence my Kindle's smugness.

Proposed solution: Someone needs to come up with a way for readers to buy the hardback edition and receive a code to get a free or deeply discounted digital download of the same book. (Or vice-versa.) Sort of like the "complete-the-album" incentive on iTunes. (For the record: The non-fic technical publisher O'Reilly is already doing this. Successfully. My husband is a huge fan.)