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Book Rambles, Media

Why E-Books are Actually as Good as Physical Books

Since the day I planned my post about how books are romanticised by people who emphasise the sensorial experience of reading, I have been thinking about another pressing issue – mentioned as the last point in that post – which I had to write about in more detail. It’s the ultimate battle between the traditional paper books and the modern electronic counterparts, known simply as e-books.

The major news portals and web-magazines have dealt with this topic infinite times in the last years. Some sounded the alarm on the imminent death of traditional books and their publishers; others have reassured that e-books are not as big anymore as they seemed to be. Some articles are downright partial in favour of paper, while others go about it in a more balanced and scientific way.

Well, I will ignore the statistics and the research for now. As always, I will base my post on my own experience. I do not intend to promote any particular e-reader but I’ve only used an old-gen Kindle Paperwhite (excluding the e-reading on tablet and laptop, which is not good on the eyes), which I inherited from Matt.

I want to show my readers that using an e-book reader not only does not pose any threat to physical books but that it can also maximise your reading experience and increase your book possessions.

But first, let’s take a look at some basic advantages and disadvantages of having an e-reader.

+ Pros +

1. Bigger – and portable – storage space

One can have more e-books on an e-reader than physical books in a room. Right now, I have 155 e-books saved on my Cloud – much more than the books in all my apartment. You can be proud of the beauty of your book shelves (you have all the right to be; I am too), but at some point, you will have no space left. But not on an e-reader. Just imagine the myriad of possible book acquisitions that you have, without worrying about running out of storage. And what’s more: you can have this virtual library at your fingertips, wherever you go.

2. It can also be convenient price-wise

Right now you can purchase a Kindle Paperwhite at a minimum of around £50. How much does that translate into paper books? Certainly not as much as all the e-books you can have. I tend to avoid local bookshops because most often they are just not good on my purse. With e-books – many of which are cheaper than their paper counterpart – I also don’t have to worry about shipping costs, as they are delivered to my Kindle for free. And speaking of free stuff, how about all those old classics that many readers would love to read at some point in their life? They are all available for free! But they’re not the only ones.

3. Free e-books let you discover new authors and genres

Amazon also offers book-lending, as well as daily and monthly deals, with discounted or even free e-books available for a limited time. I am subscribed on BookBub, through which I receive daily newsletters with a list of cheap e-books from the genres that I like. This way, I was able to discover new, emerging authors. More often than not, the discounted e-books are a part of a series, so if you like the discounted book, you’ll be wanting to get the other ones. That’s what I did when I got Jacqueline Druga’s The Flu for free – I discovered an author whom I didn’t know, I learned that I actually like the apocalyptic genre, and the sequel was a guaranteed good read!

4. It is good for studying

As a literature university student who has a lot of reading to do (check out my latest post on this subject), I found my Kindle to be extremely convenient. I don’t have to spend money on buying the British classics, for example. Besides, with the Bookmark, Highlight and Add Note features, I find it handier to jot down notes and find again the parts that are important to study. It’s so much better than filling paper books with pencil scribbles. There is also the online dictionary, the Word Wise and the Vocabulary Builder features for difficult words. The downside? Unfortunately, too few critical texts are available as e-books.

CHECK THIS OUT: 1,000+ Open Textbooks and Learning Resources for All Subjects from Irene Fenswick at Smart.Study Blog *

– Cons –

1. Not as nice as printed books

I have already complained about readers giving too much importance to the physical aspect of books, but the truth is that paper books are not only nicer but sometimes they do make the reading experience nicer as well. Nothing will beat the feeling of a book in your hands. A book with an amazing colourful cover and an embossed title. In comparison, an electronic cover seems just like a joke. Yet, I believe this is the least of the disadvantages. What really counts is the reading material inside.

2. Some e-books still seem too expensive

To counteract the 2nd pro I listed above, I have to say that I did find some e-books that cost as much, or even more, than the paperback version. I am not going into why this is so. I would still save money on shipping but it still makes me wonder. On the other hand, once an e-book is on your device and is read, you cannot do much more other than remove it. With a physical book, when read, you can easily re-sell it, swap it for a new one or lend it to a friend.

3. Technical issues

As with any other gadgets, an e-reader will eventually have its technical issues. Mine, thankfully, still works pretty well. The only issue I ever had was forgetting to charge it and ending up with no battery life in the middle of my bus commute. Actually, a few weeks ago I had a small scare: just by chance, I saw an article on BBC warning of an essential Kindle update which had to be done immediately. If I had not seen it and if I had not used my Kindle (I don’t use it daily), I risked not being able to access my e-books. Now that’s scary! And yet, physical books are not eternal either; they are still vulnerable to fire, water and natural deterioration.

4. Problems with the formatting

This is the only issue that really annoys me. The classic e-books I am using for my studies have been made by volunteers, which I appreciate, yet their formatting is not always up to standard. At times, there is no linked index list to help me access whatever chapter I need. On other occasions, the formatting of paragraphs and the distinction from one chapter to another are not great either. Not to mention typos. It is even worse when you find all this in an e-book which was actually for sale!

 

scrabbled_rambles_Visually_Books vs E-Books

From Visually.


So, is an e-reader better, worse or just as good as physical books?

There is no right answer because, in the end, everyone has their own opinion. Yet, I’m for the 3rd option: just as good. I don’t believe that e-books will ever completely take over from paper books. Both formats have their merits. However, the point of the whole post was to show you that since both are just as good, you don’t have to choose one or another: you can have both!

How to use e-books and physical books together

1. Explore new authors and genres, or rediscover the classics, with cheap/free e-books.

As I have already mentioned, discounted e-books are a good way to discover a new, good read. These new, good reads may lead to a long-lasting appreciation for a previously unknown writer or genre.

2. Buy the paperback/hardback of your favourite e-books.

Once you have found an e-book that you have really liked, go on and buy its physical version. That way, you will be supporting the author better, your reading experience will feel more intimate and, why not, it can be the start of a new fandom!

3. Start a select collection of physical books.

If you start purchasing the physical form of your favourite e-books, you will be starting an author or genre collection. Apart from showing your appreciation, you will be regulating your purchases of paper books, focusing on quality over quantity. By saving shelf space as well, your collection will appear more valuable than ever.

4. Keep expanding your horizons with e-books.

After buying your favourite paper books, don’t just stop there. Keep using your e-reader to discover more new e-books. As many of them are cheap, you will not feel as guilty about spending money on a book which you are not sure you will like. Who knows, you might find your future lifetime favourite among such e-books!

scrabbled_rambles_kindle_ereader

Did I convince you yet? It’s ok if I didn’t, I don’t have to. Yet I do hope that I will see less ‘elitism’ around. Readers of e-books are no lesser kind and they do not necessarily prefer the electronic version over the physical one. It is just another way of possessing and reading more books.

Do you have an e-reader or will you be forever faithful to your paperbacks? Leave a comment on this post or drop me a mail!
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20 Comments

  • Reply Myna Kaltschnee 24th April 2016 at 1:05 am

    What an interesting blog post! I wrote an article about e-books/printed books on my own blog, too a few months ago. It’s a pity you can’t read it, as it’s in German.

    Actually, I love both, printed books and e-books. Actually, I buy more e-books lately, because my bookshelf is too full and the e-book version is usually less expensive. I also prefer reading English books as e-books, because then I can use the dictionary for words I don’t understand. I want to add another little advantage: If you have an e-book reader with backlight, you can also read in the dark.

    My sister doesn’t like e-books because e-book readers show the reading progress in % and she doesn’t like that. She says, it puts her under pressure to see how much percent are left. I don’t share this opinion, though.

    Hugs,
    Mimi <3

    • Reply Tiziana 24th April 2016 at 11:28 am

      Hi Mimi, thanks! 🙂 Yes I remember your post, I had tried to read it with Google Translate. 😛
      I agree with all that you have said about the price, the dictionary and the backlight.

      I don’t mind the percentage, but I can be quite ‘obsessed’ with the estimated time for each chapter. First of all, it’s a good indication of the chapter’s length. If I see that I don’t have the time to finish the chapter, I don’t even start it (I always try not to stop in mid-chapter). But when I’m on a boring chapter, the estimated time seems like a punishment 😛 I become desperate every time I check it and find that I have lots of minutes left. 😛

      Thanks a lot for your input, hugs. <3

      • Reply Myna Kaltschnee 25th April 2016 at 5:06 pm

        Hi Tizy,

        it’s an honor to hear you tried to read/translate it. Unfortunately, Google Translate translations are often a bit .. awkward 😀

        Oh haha, yeah, I absolutely understand what you mean. I’m the same, I don’t like to stop in mid-chapter. That’s why I in general prefer books with short chapters. When I want to start a new chapter and see that it takes longer than 15 minutes, I’m thinking twice if I really should read it or not 😛

        Take care,
        Mimi

  • Reply Tammy 28th April 2016 at 12:04 am

    I love reading book but recently have switched to a kindle. I miss the actual book, but I don’t miss my allergies acting up from the paper and dust that they collect. Even in a new book, there’s something about the smell that bothers me. So I think that’s a Pro towards ebooks – people with dust allergies. 🙂

    • Reply Tiziana 28th April 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Oh yes, dust allergies… I know those very well, unfortunately! I am often bothered by the smell of books too, whether they are new or old. Library books are the worst though! Thanks for your input Tammy.

  • Reply Grace 28th April 2016 at 3:00 am

    I love indie authors, so ebooks are the way to go. You can’t go to a book store and find the amount of indie authors that you can find online. They are a ton of amazing indie authors that just haven’t been discovered yet.

    • Reply Tiziana 28th April 2016 at 6:54 pm

      You’re right, that is why the e-books market is so important and won’t be disappearing anytime soon; it’s essential for the indie authors.

  • Reply Anna 28th April 2016 at 3:44 am

    I don’t think books or ebooks will ever disappear totally. People have their preferences and nothing beats sitting down with a book physical book. But I also love my Kindle too. Not everyone is the same. I love them both and go back and forth with them.

    • Reply Tiziana 28th April 2016 at 7:01 pm

      I find that, in my case, my use of book/Kindle depends on location. It is more practical to carry the Kindle when I want to read on the bus. At home, I find it more cosy to read from a physical book. Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply Lynn 29th April 2016 at 1:21 am

    I love ebooks!! There was a time that I was reading so much on it that it made my eyes water. I had to adjust the lighting because that white light was just so bright for me. I find myself using the black background with white letters for my sensitive eyes during the day. 🙂

    • Reply Tiziana 29th April 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Oh I see! I never had problems on my e-reader, although I have felt pain in my eyes when reading from a laptop or a tablet because of the light. Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply Chrissy 29th April 2016 at 4:06 am

    I just got my first kindle! I have so many books that I just have to start getting rid of them. They take up to much space. I never end up reading them a second time so it doesn’t make any sense to keep them.

    • Reply Tiziana 29th April 2016 at 2:59 pm

      As I have said in my post, there are ways to get rid of physical books without wasting them, that’s the good thing. Books can live forever by passing from one hand to another. Enjoy your Kindle!

  • Reply Joan 29th April 2016 at 4:37 am

    For myself I enjoy ebooks because of the convenience and price since I read a lot, but for kids…I like the traditional paper book. Someone who’s four doesn’t need my kindle to read, they need to experience the paper books first.

    • Reply Tiziana 29th April 2016 at 3:02 pm

      I agree, kids these days are already surrounded by lots of gadgets from an early age. Besides, I don’t think that the typical children books with illustrations would appear as good in electronic format. Thanks for your input.

  • Reply slrman 2nd May 2016 at 2:08 pm

    As always there are Luddites that claim, “The old way(that I am used to) is better. When printed books first became widely available there were certainly some who whined, “I like the experience of hand-copied scrolls. Unrolling that artistic lettering on one side and seeing the disappear on the other side cannot be matched by the low-class page turning.”

    I read only ebooks now. I have over 1,000 on my laptop, desktop, tablet and smartphone. Anywhere I go I can call up my current book on one of those. Can you carry 1,000 paperbacks with you?

    • Reply Tiziana 2nd May 2016 at 8:16 pm

      That’s a good and amusing point that you’ve made. There will always be nostalgic critics; who knows what the next new thing will be in the future, that will make them reminisce fondly of ebooks.

      And that’s the beauty of technology: syncing an ebook on every device. I do the same with both my ebooks and notebooks.

      Thanks for your input!

      • Reply slrman 2nd May 2016 at 8:24 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I started changing to ebooks in 2008 when I was on a month-long trip to Europe that involved long bus, plane, and even boat rides. I have owned several e-readers including a Kindle. None were nearly as good as a laptop or now my tablet and phone.

        The phone being small, requires advancing the page frequently, but with FB Reader, it’s just a tap on the right side of the screen that has become so automatic, I don’t even notice I’m doing it. Much easier than rolling one of the old scrolls. After all, the “experience” should be in what you’re reading, not the medium.

        • Reply Tiziana 2nd May 2016 at 8:47 pm

          That’s interesting… usually I hear people say that e-readers are better than laptops and that is is my general experience too. I started on laptop too, using the Kindle for PC app and the Adobe Digital Editions for PDFs. Depending on my mood and energy levels, I either read for almost a whole day or just for a few minutes. Unfortunately, the knowledge of having an Internet connection proved to be a distraction when reading on laptop; on the Kindle reader, I find it easier to immerse myself without any tempting distraction.

          Exactly, that is what I wanted to prove in my books posts so far, that the medium shouldn’t affect in any way the experience of reading a novel, or whatever it is, and that the content is still able to come through to the reader.

  • Reply 5 Ways Books Are Needlessly Romanticised – Scrabbled Rambles 9th April 2017 at 7:57 pm

    […] Why E-Books are Actually as Good as Physical Books (Scrabbled Rambles) […]

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