E-reader or paperback books – which team are you on? Ever since the invention of e-readers there has been a debate about which form of reading is best. While some purists believe reading a paperback book is the only way to read, there are others who have embraced new technological advancements who see printed books as outdated and e-readers as the obvious choice for bookworms. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, readers may consider that there’s really no choice to be made. That an avid reader can in fact have their cake and eat it too.
As digital devices become more and more affordable, an increasing amount of people are turning to tablets and e-readers to gobble up books. By putting more books than ever before at your fingertips, the advent of digital devices has seen e-books surge in popularity. But, even with all the convenience of technology, there are so still many perks with the old school paperback book. But how does an e-reader stack up to a traditional book, and which should you choose an e-reader or a paper book? We take a look at the pros and cons of each to help you make a more informed decision about investing in an e-reader.
The physical feel:
Books offer a unique physical feeling that you just don’t get from an e-reader. Traditional books are more tactile in nature and have that heft in the hand that feels entirely different from holding an e-reader. Plus, there’s the magic of turning the pages, smelling the paper, and seeing the words emblazoned on pages. Paperback books offer a more sensory experience than e-readers and are often also so much more than just a vehicle for accessing information, they’re a decorative object.
They’re more mobile than you think:
Yes sure, it’s easier to travel with an e-reader packed with digital books, but there are some places where you can’t take your e-reader. For example, you can take a book to the beach without having to worry that the sand would do any damage to it. If sand gets on your book, you simply shake it off and your book won’t mind getting a little wet if you pick it up just after getting out of the water. Taking your e-reader to the beach isn’t the best option, and what if somebody steals it? Reading in the bathtub is much easier with a physical book as well. Taking your n e-reader near a large body of water is a bit hazardous and not at all recommended.
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You retain information better with a printed book:
A 2013 Norwegian study showed that readers learn more easily and retain information better with physical books than digital devices. The study had one group of testers reading a story on an Amazon Kindle while the other group was given a traditional paper-bound book. After finishing the story, both groups were quizzed on the information they had retained and those who read the paper book fared better on the quiz. While we’re accustomed to skim-reading digital media when it comes to physical books you often read with more focus.
The sleep factor:
It’s no secret that the blue light emanating from your tablet screen can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. This artificial light exposure causes a lot of doctors and sleep scientists to recommend regular books over tablets as they don’t have a strong backlight convincing your brain it’s still daylight hours outside.
Your chances of picking up a gem of a read at a great price are greater with books. There is no such thing as a used or second-hand e-book. If you’re an avid second-hand shopper who loves nothing more than to browse the local charity shop for good books at next to nothing, then traditional printed books are sure to tempt you more often. While e-books are affordable, you may wind up paying a lot more for certain titles in a digital format.
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They’re not very convenient:
While you can take your book to the beach, they’re not very easily transportable the rest of the time. Travelling is a clear example of where an e-reader wins out over a traditional printed book. It’s not convenient to carry many books around with you and if you’re the type of person who likes options, then an e-reader is the easiest way to bring several books with you a trip.
They can be more expensive:
While second-hand printed books enable you to pick up a great read at a good price, you will very likely pay more for a new release, best-selling book in the book shop. New releases tend to be slightly cheaper on an e-reader than in traditional book form. You will also pay less for classic reads as many classic novels are free on Kindle, thanks to the fact that they have entered the public domain.
They offer massive convenience:
While there are some places your e-reader can’t go, travellers love the fact that an e-reader enables you to take your entire library everywhere with you. You can read a range of books at once and only have to transport one light-weight device with you. Plus, if you finish a book, or have a craving for something completely different that isn’t in your library you can download it with absolute ease (provided you’ve got access to WiFi of course). With access to the internet, you can easily download new ebooks in any language.
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Price: from R3,649
They come with a built-in dictionary:
Finding out the meaning of a foreign word you’ve come across while reading on your e-reader is incredibly easy as most e-readers come with a built-in dictionary that can be accessed in a flash. For example, Kindle makes it really easy – you just tap a word that you don’t understand and the definition comes up.
Your library is backed up:
The great thing about an e-reader is that there is no risk of losing your library. On an e-reader, your downloaded content doesn’t depend on the one device so if you lose your device, you can still access your library. Once you get a new e-reader you can simply download your library again, or use apps that help you read it on other devices while you save up for a new device (for example, Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop). What’s more, if you’re reading online, your Kindle will sync with the last page you read, and take you back there again even if you’re reading on a different device.
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Price: from R1,999
They come with a built-in dictionary:
It needs to be charged:
While a printed book is ready to use whenever the mood strikes, your eReader will need to be charged. While eReaders have a much longer battery life than a tablet or smartphone, if you use it often you will need to remember to charge it.
Skimming and reading ahead is difficult:
While the eReader interface is super easy to use, for some reason it is really, really difficult to read ahead on an e-reader. If the book you’re reading gets unexpectedly terrible, but you still want to know how it ends, trying to skim through the book on your device is an awkward experience.
You have look at a screen:
The biggest con when it comes to eReaders is no doubt the most obvious one, the fact that you have to stare at a screen to read. For those of us who stare at a screen all day for work, this is a huge disadvantage. Eye strain, from staring at screens too long is a big concern for most people these days and doing all your reading on an electronic device may not be the best idea for your health.
Licensing issues can be a pain:
It’s super easy to loan a physical book to a friend close to you but with an eReader licensing issue can make sharing a book a real pain. Digital files can be controlled whereas paper books can be passed on to a friend, or bought and sold on the used books market.
While you may think you need to make a choice between an eReader and traditional books, the pros and cons of each form of reading prove that both digital devices and physical printed books both have a place in the home of bookworms. Just because you’ve invested in a digital device doesn’t mean you can’t pop into your local bookstore for a good old printed book to enjoy at the beach or while sprawled on the couch on Sunday afternoons. While eReaders are a must-have for travel, a good old fashioned book brings a little bit of magic into your reading experience when you’re in the comfort of your own home or don’t mind lugging a book along with you.