How ebook ordering can become addictive

How many ebooks have you purchased since they first became widely available in 2007? And how many of them have you actually read? Ebooks can be clutter like anything else.


It used to be that avid readers would accumulate massive collections of books. One family I met needed and wanted to downsize to a much smaller home, but the father’s collection of over 10,000 books made it impossible. He refused to be parted from them so there the whole family stayed, getting deeper in debt. It was a sad situation.

The benefits of ebooks

The advent of ebooks in the world has made it possible for people to now own a huge library of books without adding to their physical clutter. Ebooks have the added benefit of being searchable. Authors can deliver updates remotely. You can switch between devices if you want to and add highlights and notes as you wish. And no trees need to be felled to produce them.

Providing you use an e-ink device instead of a backlit one such as an iPad or phone, e-readers are also kind to your eyes and generally easier to read because you can choose the font style and size you prefer.

And, of course, there’s the convenience of being able to take your entire library with you wherever you go.

Ebook addiction

I’m writing this article because there’s a problem I’ve discovered with ebooks while teaching my online clutter clearing courses. In the fourteen years since e-readers became widely available in 2007, it seems some people have accumulated far larger collections of ebooks than they ever purchased in printed format. And most of them don’t even realize it.

Self-help books are a favourite, I’m told. A click of a button gives the impression that you have a move in the right direction towards becoming a better person. But unless you read those ebooks and action the knowledge contained in them, they’re just another form of clutter in your life.

Ease of purchase is the main problem here. Kindle purchases, in particular, need only a click of a button. Amazon has cleverly set up the system to use your default payment method so you don’t even have to approve the purchase. One click and an ebook is yours. They do allow refunds if you come to your senses and realize you’ve bought another book you’re never going to read, but only if you request it within 14 days.

How to change your ebook buying habits

  • New habit #1 – A good new habit to adopt is to never buy an ebook the moment you decide you want it. Add it to a wish list and wait at least 24 hours before deciding whether to make the purchase or not. The time delay will save you from making many impulse buys you will never read.
  • New habit #2 – Another good habit is never to buy a new ebook until you’re completely up to date with reading the ebooks you already own. Physical books need to be ordered in advance because of the time it takes for them to be shipped. An ebook can be purchased and available for you to read within seconds, so there is no need to order ahead of time. Wait until you’re ready to read it before you buy it.
  • New habit #3 – The reason why online shopping can become addictive is because you get a feel-good dopamine hit with each purchase you make. However, what many people don’t realize is that dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward, not when you receive it. So the dopamine effect only lasts until the moment when you click to buy. After that, the thrill is gone, which is why you may never read the ebooks you buy. Find healthier ways to get your daily dopamine, such as exercising, yoga or meditation.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2021

Clear Your Paper & Digital Clutter online course

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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