When the Kindle hit the market it was predicted that this new age of digital eBooks would spell the end of the physical book. Fast forward to 2016: eBook sales are down and Waterstones are reporting a surge in physical book sales in December 2015. It appears that the buzz of the e-book is fading fast and, at least in Britain, the love of “real”books is very much alive.
I own an Amazon Kindle. It was a birthday gift 3 years ago and I was extremely excited when it arrived. I thought it would mean I would read more books and expand my library without taking up too much space, I’d save money on books and would take it everywhere….
That wasn’t exactly what happened. Although I still use it, my Kindle has not replaced books for me at all. As part of my series into my reading habits, I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts on e-Readers vs “real” books. I’ll start with some pros and cons of each and then move on to my overall verdict.
- Saves space on the shelf – as much as I love the look of a full book shelf, I only have a finite amount of space. My Kindle is great for larger books and book series’.
- Cross-device reading – if I forget my Kindle, I have an app on my phone to pick up where I left off. Great if I’m having to stand the whole way home on the train.
- Price – Kindle/e-reader books can be much cheaper and there are lots available for 99p. This is great for trying new books. If you’re an avid Kindle reader, joining Amazon Prime means you can borrow books for free.
- Totally Totable – If I carry a paperback around with me it inevitably gets dog-eared. I hate books that look like they haven’t been taken care of. The Kindle can be carried in any bag without this kind of problem.
- Great for reading 2 books at once – if you read on the commute and at home, keeping two books on the go at once is easy. One book on the e-reader, one in physical format at home.
- It doesn’t feel like a book – yes, the bog-standard Kindle and paper-white models have that book-like appearance to the screen, no blue light, etc but it’s just not the same as holding a real live book.
- You can’t (easily) share books or give them to someone else when you’re done – it’s nice to lend books to friends and family, swap or take to a charity shop for someone else to love. You can’t do that with an e-book.
- You can’t really read it in the bath – at least without wrapping it in a plastic bag. I know a book doesn’t fair too well in water but at least it will dry and still work.
- Not for non-fiction – unless it’s a history book. Cookbooks and travel books, anything with pictures, just are not the same when read on a black and white kindle
- It’s just not a book! – enough said
- Used books – shopping for used books is great. Whether you’re at a car-boot sale, charity shop or a book fair; swapping books with friends and family, it’s amazing what you can find.
- Bookshops and libraries – quiet spaces, helpful staff and all the books you could want (budget-depending of course). A bookshop can be very satisfying place to be. Searching for a new read in a shop or a library is much nicer than doing it online.
- They’re so pretty! – they do make a shelf look good
- Sense of accomplishment – it’s much more satisfying getting to the end of a hefty tome than it is getting the message “You’ve completed….Please leave your Rating”
- Memories – your well-thumbed copy of that favourite childhood novel can bring back a lot of memories, tea stains and all.
- They take up space – crowded bookshelves can be overwhelming and when travelling or commuting, a book can take up too much space in your luggage. An e-Reader is light and can hold lots of books; handy if you’re travelling.
- Can be expensive – although there are deals to be had in the bookstores and online, eBooks can be much cheaper, especially if you’re into a series of very large novels (hello Games of Thrones!)
Thinking of cons for “real” books was tricky and I know most of my pros for physical books are emotive but I can’t help it, my heart will always be in their pages. I will always prefer the real thing over digital words. The whole experience of reading isn’t just about the medium through which you read, it’s about the receiving of that book; browsing and choosing it in the store, unwrapping it as a gift and passing it on to a loved one. Having said that, I do still love my Kindle albeit for more practical reasons as the pros will illustrate. In this busy world, we are always on the go. eBooks certainly have their place and can be a great way to get back into reading.
So which do you prefer?