Which one is better, the e-reader or the printed book? This has been a topic of discussion amongst book lovers ever since the first e-reader came out into the market. But do we really need to choose between those two, or can we compromise?
Since I own an e-reader and also several printed books, I decided to do some research and take a deeper look into the subject.
Why are e-readers “better”?
One of the main reasons people say e-readers are better than actual books, has to do with the ecological impact. Even though the manufacturing process of an e-reader still isn’t perfect, with the carbon emissions still being high, it’s well known that deforestation is a real problem for us, and every year many trees are taking down in order for books to be made. Well, ‘what about the carbon emissions?’ you may say; the amount of carbon emissions required to make an e-reader are the same as the emissions required to make forty to fifty books.
When it comes to the actual process of reading, some e-readers have e-ink technology which makes it easier to read (in comparison with tablets or computer screens for instance) and also deliver a realistic paper-like texture. They also make it incredibly easier to highlight and bookmark everything you wish, and e-readers also offer in-book search engines so you never have to spend long periods of time looking for a particular quote or word.
E-readers provide internet connection which makes it easy to search and buy new books, connect with other people and also cross reference any information.
Another aspect of e-readers that make them so popular, is the fact that they allow a reader to carry hundreds of books at a time without having to worry about carrying extra bags.
Why are books “better”?
With books you never need to worry about its battery life and you never need to charge it or worry about buying international plugs for it.
It’s also easier to share them (there are some restrictions that prevent sharing on some e-books) and if you can’t afford to buy a specific book you can always check your local library or second hand stores. You also never have to worry about reading in the park, under the sun since books do not have screens and therefore do not reflect sunlight – this only applies to the tablet-like e-readers and not the e-ink e-readers. There is nothing better than smelling and touching a new or a very old book. Reading becomes a completely different experience when you are holding a book in your hands.
Something else to consider is the fact that books can be cheaper than buying an e-reader and the subsequent e-books. You can always rent from a library, borrow from friends and family or buy a book at a second hand store, and since e-books are nearly the same price as a printed book you end up saving money. Another situation that people don’t consider is “losing” your e-book or your entire digital collection. It’s very easy to delete a book by mistake or having a virus on your computer that deletes everything you have and yes, it’s also easier to forget a book at the bus stop but how many people do you know that have lost their entire printed collection?
Also, when thinking about the authors, buying printed books provides them more royalties then buying e-books.
And let’s face it, having a bookshelf filled with books is always a treat for the eyes… and the soul.
I own a Kobo Glo and I am in love with it. I love the fact that it allows me to read in the dark without hurting my eyes, and the fact that it has an e-ink screen which makes me believe (not entirely) that I am reading an actual book. I also like the fact that I can carry several books at a time in it and that I can buy books without leaving my house (I’m not the most social person).
I must admit though, it’s not the same experience. Books look good, especially the ones that have very detailed covers or the ones that are special/collectors editions. I like smelling them and I like touching them, and I like staring at my overflowing bookshelf. So I know for a fact that I won’t ever stop buying printed books. But I also love my Kobo.
Sometimes e-readers are just more convenient to have and sometimes it’s better to sit down and read a printed book. So personally I don’t think I have to choose between the two.
Obviously there’s more to it than just the subjects that I mentioned above and it would take me forever to go through all of them, but from the readers’ perspective, I think these were the most relevant ones.