Chess Books: Electronic vs Paper
Here a while back I was perusing Amazon for chess books and I came across Christopher Scheerer’s Blackmar-Deimer Gambit: A Modern Guide to a Fascinating Chess Opening. Given my love for Unorthodox and Gambit Openings, I simply had to have it. I didn’t want to wait for it to ship so I purchased the Kindle version. Now that I’ve had it for a while I figured it’d be a good time to contemplate the pros and cons of electronic chess books.
One thing about Kindle (or any of the other e-readers) is that you can carry an impressive number of books in a small package. Imagine carrying your entire chess library to a tournament with you. If you needed to make an adjustment to an opening you play or need to study up on something for an opponent before the next round, you have everything you need at your disposal. Also if there is a title that you want, you can have it in a matter of minutes instead of waiting a few days for it to be delivered.
This one isn’t as much of a plus for e-books. I paid $19.95 for the Kindle version. The paperback version is $22.45 via Amazon and qualifies for Super Saver shipping. So pretty much order something else small you might need or want and not pay shipping. But you can also get it for about the same or a little cheaper (with shipping) as the Kindle version via another source (New & Used). I’m not sure why it costs so much for the digital version since they aren’t paying for it to be printed. You’d figure they’d be quite a bit more cheaper.
While the number of titles available in e-book formats are increasing (especially with the newer titles being released), some of the more popular titles and classic works are still only available in paperback or hardcover. So in this regard e-books have a ways to go. Another availability issue is that you can only get e-books from sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble (though the USCF has also started to carry e-books, their selection is more limited it seems).
So how does an e-book compare to a typical paperback? After having the BDG book for about a month now, I’ve found that I haven’t read as much of it as I normally have a paperback. When thinking about it I was a little disappointed to realize this. I have found that while I do enjoy reading books on my Kindle, when it comes to chess books I really do better with a paperback. I find it easier to follow the games and notes when I have a book open in front of the chess board and I find traditional books easier to navigate. The menu/navigation on the BDG book was a little cumbersome.
Overall I like the idea of having a chess e-library, but it seems some of the titles are hit and miss, not on the quality of the work, but more on the ease of navigation and the layout/appearance. As it is, I’d highly recommend Blackmar-Deimer Gambit: A Modern Guide to a Fascinating Chess Opening if you are a fan of the BDG or if you’re not and just want to learn about it. The e-book version of it though I find a little lacking. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any other thoughts, ideas, or suggestions regarding e-books and chess.