How many chess books do you own? And, more to the point, how many of them have you properly read or studied? I'll confess that my personal chess book owned:studied ratio is probably about 5:1. There are some chess books -- a select few -- that I truly love and have read many times. But I've also given away lots of chess books because I know that I will never get round to reading them. It might be that I am supremely lazy, but I suspect I am one of many repeat chess-book purchasers, where the purchased books end up unread on a shelf.
But why? If I buy a novel or any other type of non-fiction book, the chances are that I will read it - and probably sooner rather than later. I think the answer to why chess books remain uniquely unread is that there is a natural barrier to reading them - namely that nine times out of ten, you will need get a chess board and pieces out (or at the very least, get your laptop fired up with Chessbase or whatever open) to get anything like full value out of a chess book. And for most adults with busy lives, this simply isn't going to happen very often.
I think, however, that technology might now have reached the point where that barrier to reading chess books has been removed. I started playing chess again in 2002, and ever since then, chess e-books have, of course, been available in pgn format (I'm talking proper books here, not just files of unannoted games). However, the number of e-books available has recently exploded, with Everyman now having a huge catalogue of books available.
But the really important change, for me at least, is the relatively recent availability of instant-on, truly portable iPads and other tablets. I've got a Google Nexus and my chess-book-reading app of choice is Chess PGN Master Pro (see photo).
My Nexus is a new purchase, so these are exciting times for me - it feels like I'll be able to truly read and appreciate some great chess books whenever I've got a spare 10-15mins. Of course, the excitement might fade, and I could just end up with a lot of unread e-books rather than physical books. But it feels different; it feels like the biggest barrier to chess book reading has gone forever. Here's to the chess e-book revolution!