Tag Archives: Kindle

Reading format

BooksIn a previous post, Reading language, I reflected on the mix of languages about the books that I read. This post, some days later, triggered the idea of taking a look at which format do I use when reading books; paper books or electronic books.

I have had a couple of electronic readers since some time ago. The first one being a gift received in 2010 (1) and the second one, a similar model I bought in 2013 to replace the previous model which got damaged. I have always thought that the business case for the electronic book was clear and positive: after just reading about 20 books in it the purchase was probably justified, especially if those books were classic ones, of which free copies are available in the net.

Find below the figures.

ReadingFormat

However, taking a look at the table above, the business case for me it has clearly not yet proven positive… In the past 5 years I have read less than 10 electronic books. So far, the cost of the 2 e-readers that I have had, plus the cost of the ebooks divided by the number of books I read in electronic format (a figure between 20 and 30 euros) surely exceeds the average cost of the books in paper format that I buy (which I haven’t calculated but must be between 10 and 20 euros).

What is actually the electronic book adoption trend nowadays? I found several articles. It seems that the high growth of the e-book market up to 2010 has more or less stopped. In this article from The New York Times, it is mentioned that about 30% of readers read a majority of books in electronic format, whereas this other one mentions that in terms of sales ebooks represent as well around 27-30%.

Finally, on the other hand, there is people like my wife, Luca; if she made the numbers for her reading habits, they would show that she reads books per dozens per year and that she reads a large majority of electronic books. She has a Kindle reader from Amazon, rather than a Sony e-reader as I do. This subtle difference may have a point in the shaping of habits: in the Kindle the shop is in the device itself. In a couple of clicks she has the book with her. In my case, I have to buy or download the books using a computer and then transfer the files from the computer to the reader. I guess that this subtle difference, which eases the availability of books for Kindle readers, may have a big impact.

Note: In 2013 I completed reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” which I started in electronic format, but after my e-reader got damaged I continued and completed in paper format (in the meantime, Luca had bought it in parallel in paper), hence the use of decimals.

(1) I received this gift at the end of 2010 from former work colleagues when I left my job in Madrid for Toulouse. I therefore include in the table for the mix of format, only the books from 2011 onwards (it is obvious that before 2011 all the books I read were in paper format).

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The Snowball, Warren Buffett bio (book review)

Last Christmas, my brother gave me “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life“, by Alice Schroeder. He completely hit on the spot, though I only started reading it during last August holidays (Luca also started reading it to the point that she ended up buying her own Kindle version of it!).

The book is a thorough review of Buffett’s life, including relationships with family & friends and investment decisions. I had previously read other books about Buffett, but they were merely about his investment “strategy” so to say, nothing compared to this one. To complete the book, the author made over 250 interviews, so you can imagine the many insights contained in it.

There are many lessons or just ideas that can be taken from this book. Let me just point the few I can recall at the moment of writing this post:

  • The Inner Scorecard: the idea of acting and valuing yourself according to what you care about and not according to what others’ deem important.
  • The concept of margin of safety: from Benjamin Graham (recommended reading “The Intelligent Investor“).
  • Circle of competence: the idea of looking for simple business that have an enduring competitive advantage (technology companies are not that simple).
  • Cigar butts: companies which are worth more “death than alive” (looking for cheap price to book).
  • Snowball: the idea that compounding interest acts as a snowball falling down the hill, the sooner you start the larger the ball will be down the road (thinking about retirement here).
  • The story of the genie: or that you should invest in your own health as your body is the only one you are going to be given in this life.
  • The Ovarian lottery and the idea that philanthropy achieves more if exercised now and trying to maximize its impact.

Throughout the book you get to learn about many great entrepreneurial characters (e.g. Rose Blumkin, Bill Gates); about the workings of the board of directors of some companies (e.g. Coca Cola, Berkshire Hathaway); about some of the most impressive falls in corporate history (e.g. Solomon Brothers, Long Term Capital Management); about several depressions, recessions and crisis; and above all you learn about what were the thoughts and calculations behind some of Buffett’s investments decisions since the early 1940’s to date.

I definitely recommend this book (700+ pgs.).

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