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The chess e-book revolution

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!

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