My weekly musing, followed by the regular link-fest of money and investing reads.
I have mixed feelings about Amazon’s Kindle book reader, which is about to come out in two cheaper and more powerful flavours.
Books are one of my few spending weaknesses. I don’t buy many books that I don’t read, but it’s more than clothes I don’t wear or food I don’t eat. (I will get fat before I throw food out!)
Worse, these books accumulate despite my fairly cavalier habit of giving the ones I like to friends. My investing library alone is three shelves of double-stacked books deep, and I’ve got shelves and shelves of other books.
The book hoard is annoying on many levels:
- All these books need space, which means I rent a bigger flat than otherwise.
- They pack into more than a dozen boxes, so aren’t easy or cheap to move.
- They remind me how much money I’ve spent on now-forgotten books.
- Since I give away the best books, I’m left with a pretty lousy collection (investing books aside – those stay with me!)
- I’ll never be able to live out of a suitcase with all these books (a faint aspiration of mine is to do so for a year or two before I die. Preferably not the last year.)
I’ve recently got rid of over 300 magazines that I’d been carting around for a decade, and the temptation of now swapping my library for a Kindle is high.
But do we really want to put every aspect of our art and culture onto a digital upgrade treadmill, as has already happened with movies and music?
True, Amazon keeps a record of what books you’ve bought. This means that when you upgrade your Kindle hardware, you don’t need to buy the books again.
But upgrading the Kindle every 2-3 years is still effectively a hefty tax on reading – perhaps £50 a year, amortized out, on top of the price of the books.
It’s certainly not the cheapest solution. Bookmooch is just one of several book-swapping alternatives for frugalistas. The clever thing with this one is you don’t need to find an exact match with another member. Rather, you send books to whoever asks for them and accumulate points, which you can then ‘spend’ getting the books you want.
Perhaps authors should do more to promote digital readers like the Kindle. They may lament the end of paper-based novels, but if the alternative is a swapping free-for-all, they’ve more to lose than the smell of a new paperback.
Pop over to Amazon for the full specs of both Kindles; you may be surprised by how this technology has improved. I’ve used a friend’s previous generation Kindle at some length, and I thought it was great.
Money reads from the blogs
- Bad consumer sentiment? Good returns – Systematic Relative Strength
- Justification mode – The Kirk Report
- Moats, unbundled – The Psy-Fi blog
- Investment books you have to read – UK Value Investor
- Collective versus individual decisions – Stumbling & Mumbling
- Hugh Hendry: The acceptable face of hedge funds – Ian Fraser
- Free social psychology course: Useful for investors – Simoleon Sense
- 19 jobs that don’t need a college degree – Wealth Pilgrim
- 14 famous man caves – Art of Manliness
- Is an arts degree worth anything? – The Digerati Life
From the big sites
- Time to reassess fund manager pay – The Economist
- The rising power of Chinese workers – The Economist
- UK megacaps not rescuing our economy – Peston/BBC
- The next bull market starts when? – The Motley Fool
- The case for renting versus buying – Fortune
- Infographic: Mini-bar pricing – Mint
- Higher rate tax threat for pensions – FT
- Glass half-full on the economic outlook – FT
- Pet insurance no laughing matter – Telegraph
- Do you know what your fund holds? – Telegraph
- Nationwide to charge for overseas withdrawals – Guardian
- Taking a career break – The Independent
- The risks of cautious funds – The Independent
- How long until a housing crash? – The Independent
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