Yet Another Reason to Switch to eBooks: Airline Fees!

We told you a few weeks ago about Scottevest’s ad rejection by Delta. Of course, Delta is far from the only airline with restrictive baggage fees. It seems like every company has extra charges for heavier bags, less room for carry-ons, etc. So what do you do if you’re a voracious reader?

John Naughton of the Guardian UK stumbled on this particular issue. He was looking to bring books on vacation but realized his reading list would have eaten up a big chunk of the weight restrictions on his Ryanair flight. So he broke down and bought a Kindle, despite his previous objections to owning an ebook reader.

Specifically, he says:

It suddenly occurred to me that Amazon had – many moons ago – released a free Kindle app for the iPad (and related Apple idevices) which enabled their owners to buy books from the Kindle store. So I downloaded the app, purchased the books and suddenly had the desired texts in my pocket without having to choose between them and my shaving kit.

I felt ambivalent about this, because a part of me loathes the intellectual property tyranny that goes with ebooks – the fact that you can’t lend them to your friends, for example. And, of course, the fact that Amazon could, at a whim, remotely delete the book from one’s iPad. These “digital restrictions management” provisions are examples of the kind of intellectual property extremism that is the bane of the digital world. My unease stemmed from the fact that, when faced with a conflict between principle and exigency, I caved in.

Look at it this way —if you already own an iPad or a Kindle, traveling with ebooks over paper ones may mean the difference between paying $20 to check a regular bag and $100 for an “overweight” bag. While it’s tough to figure out EXACTLY how much the average book weighs, I did look on Amazon for the shipping weight of an average hardcover. Steig Larsson’s last book, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” clocks in at 2lbs when shipped through Amazon. Assuming they didn’t throw in a lead-lined box, it’s a good shot the actual weight of the book is somewhere in the 1.75lb range (allowing for the box weight as well). Let’s say you’re a big reader (or traveling with multiple people who like to read). 10 hardcovers at 1.75lbs comes in at 17.5lbs overall. That’s a lot of books when having a bag over 50lbs might mean you’re paying almost $100 in baggage fees!

So if you don’t already own or use an ebook reader, there’s a very compelling cost savings for you! We’re going on vacation next week, and while Sarah likes my Kindle, she’s still planning on bringing a stack of paper books with her…maybe this will change her mind!

Guardian UK Editorial


About the Author

Carly Z
Carly has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to her first PDA (a Palm M100). She quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. She loves writing about ebooks because they combine her two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

3 Comments on "Yet Another Reason to Switch to eBooks: Airline Fees!"

  1. Christopher Gavula

    | October 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm |

    LOL This is so true. I used to carry a few of those huge Cisco technical books with me when I traveled for work. Now I carry the electronic versions on my iPad – saves my back – saves me weight in general. They still need to do better about the formatting on some of these books and they need to find a way to include the supplemental materials included on CDs that come with many of the originals (or lower the price of the eBook to compensate for the missing material), but overall it is an acceptable compromise. I’m flying to Denver next week and my load will be bad enough – I’m so glad that I have eBook versions of many of my books so that it isn’t even worse!

  2. Out of curiosity, I just used my kitchen scale to weigh my hardcover copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It weighs 2 pounds and 9 3/4 ounces.

    Wont it be nice once J.K. Rowling finally converts the Harry Potter series to ebooks? (has she done that yet?) We’ll be able to take the entire series with us on airplanes and not have to practically buy Harry, Hermione and Ron their own tickets to go on trips with us.

    I havent flown since before September 11th. Last time I went on a trip where I had to fly to get there, I was really into reading fan fiction that I got off the internet. I didnt have an ereader of any kind at the time. So, I printed out a bunch of fan fiction stories and put them into binders to read on the airplane. I remember my backpack was super heavy! 

    So glad that I have a Kindle now. I wouldnt want to have to lug that heavy backpack around again. (I’m not as strong as I was 10yrs ago) On the way home from that trip 10yrs ago. I packed my binders into my suitcases as much as I could so that I wasnt so weighed down on the way home. Bought a paperback book at the airport instead.

    If I ever fly again (big “if”. flying looks like a bigger hassle now than it was 10yrs ago) I’ll just carry my Kindle, and a crochet/knitting project with me, and just buy clothes when I get to my destination. I can find a WalMart almost everywhere in America, and most hotels have washing machines. If I’m visiting a friend, I’ll ship my clothing to my friend’s house before the trip so I wont have to carry luggage.  Probably cheaper to UPS my clothes to a friend’s house rather than trust the airlines to not lose it on the flight there.

  3. I used to be the type to bring a book (or books) along on trips — usually it was a big, thick hardback one. I’d think that what I brought would be enough to get me through the trip, but I would always seriously underestimate. I can’t tell you how many times I would finish my book while waiting for a connecting flight, and  every time I would go buy another book (usually also a big, thick hardcover) at the airport bookstore. Never mind that it was more to carry, and never mind that I was paying FULL retail, I was not going without something to read. 

    When eBooks came around, it was such a relief to be able to carry several books with me at once. But if an author I loved came out with something that was unavailable as an eBook, I would still buy it as a hardcover. (I am sure that publishers must love me).Anyway, once Amazon got in the game, it became less and less common for me to not find the books I wanted in Kindle form. I really credit them with getting so many authors and publishers on board in the early days. I also appreciate all of the FREE books that they list daily, as I now have such a huge queue of books to read, that I can’t imagine ever being “bookless” again. =)

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