E-readers vs paper books

Around a year ago, I started reading books for fun again after a nearly 10 year hiatus.  I was in school non-stop until I was in my late 20s, so once I finally escaped to freedom, I had no desire to look at another book unless it was necessary for my day job.  After about a decade, my book aversion wore off and I started reading again with the help of Mrs. Lite Adventurer who has easy access to an excellent library near her workplace.

I normally did not travel with books in the past because they can take up quite a bit of volume, and more importantly because I found I hardly ever read while on vacation; there was too much other cool stuff to do.  But more recently I have found that reading is a nice way to pass the time on long flights, so I began experimenting with taking a book with me again.  Perhaps the biggest decision in 2018 for someone who likes to read is whether to go with an e-reader – the Kindle being by far the most popular choice – or to stick with the old fashioned print book that’s stood the test of time for centuries.

E-reader Pros:

  • You can carry around a massive library in one relatively small and light device
  • Ability to read in the dark without an external light
  • Dedicated e-readers like the Kindle have impressive battery life for an electronic device
  • Instant access to books without having to go anywhere to physically get them

E-reader Cons:

  • Requires occasional charging
  • Initial expensive cost compared to a typical paperback
  • Not as durable as paper (an accidental drop onto concrete for example)
  • E-books are expensive for what you get; in some cases more than the paperback version
  • You can’t buy a used e-book for $1 at a garage sale
  • Will eventually become obsolete, as does all technology
  • And the most important con for me… it simply does not provide the same tactile experience as holding a real book in my hands

Old fashioned book Pros:

  • Cheap & durable
  • Timeless.  A book from 100 years ago can still be usable today.
  • Future proof.  You buy it once and you’re done.  I guarantee that someone who chooses to use an e-reader will eventually upgrade to a newer model.
  • Self sufficient.  Requires no charging, dongles, or accessories to read.
  • Easy to share.  You can read it, then give it to a friend if you so choose.

Old fashioned book Cons:

  • Books are heavy and take up space
  • Prone to water damage.  I guess this applies to e-readers too, but you get a book wet and it’s pretty much ruined.


My personal preference between these two options is the old fashioned paperback or hardcover book.  I do not like e-readers.  I used to own an iPad (the original and then the first generation iPad Air) and tried reading on that, but I hated it.  I never actually bought a Kindle but have used ones owned by friends.  The screens are very nice and much more appropriate to dedicated reading compared to an iPad or a cell phone, but it still didn’t inspire me enough to go out and buy one.

*A brief aside:  I’m not an anti-technology guy, but I do have limits on how much technology I allow to intrude in my life.  Before I hit my minimalist phase, I owned a wide variety of electronics which took up a lot of space in my apartment, but I was able to gradually reduce everything to just a few main devices:  my laptop computer, my phone, a TV, and some small cameras.  I sold my iPad a year ago and haven’t missed it a bit.  It’s really nice not having to have a million gadgets sitting around the house, each with its own charger cord and connecting cables.*

I do think that most Kindles and other e-readers will eventually end up in the trash as newer models come out regularly, and I don’t have any interest in getting on that upgrade train.  The biggest reason I prefer real books, however, is due to the general feel and experience I get when I settle down with a physical tome.  It’s a nice way to temporarily escape from the busy-ness of modern day life, and I can’t replicate this feeling with an e-reader.  Just personal preference.

I get most of my reading material from the local library, which solves the issue of clutter.  I like books, but do not like the hoard that inevitably builds up over time when one frequently purchases books.  The number of works I own is a fraction of what I once had, and they can all fit on a single shelf.  These are books that I frequently re-read.  Everything else I borrow.

When it comes to traveling with books, my strategy is as follows.  If I think I’m going to have enough down time to do some reading, I will take a single book.  It is usually a paperback since they are generally smaller and lighter than their hardcover counterparts.  And if I finish the book while on vacation, I may leave it there at the hotel lobby or some other public place where someone else can pick it up and enjoy it after me.



2 thoughts on “E-readers vs paper books

  1. Hardbound or paperback books are also what I prefer. I only read newsletter on my iPad or phone. I read a classic e-book (Jane Eyre) on the iPad and couldn’t digest anything. My mind is just floating so I stopped and embrace being an old soul. I bought a used Jane Eyre book and enjoyed every moment reading it. It’s now seating on my shelf as it becomes my favourite. I still have more to read and will grab some when I travel.

    It’s a great idea to leave the books behind for others to enjoy. Have you written anything on the book like “Pay it forward!” or something. Thank you for sharing the love of reading, the good old passtime that will never go out of style.


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