December 13, 2009

E-reader vs. Books

Posted by at 8:04 am in Reads | Permalink

Book_vs_ebook I have been hearing a lot about electronic reading devices (or "e-readers") lately, and I'm wondering if I should put one on my holiday wish list. Is reading a book electronically better than reading the old-fashioned way? I decided to list the pros and cons of an e-reader vs. print books just to see if it's really worth putting an e-reader on my holiday wish list or if I'm better off asking for something else.

Reasons why I want an e-reader

1) Is that a weight I am carrying around in my bag?
After reading such books as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga (for ages 12 and up), J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and other rather large books, I would love to have an e-reader just to avoid carrying around a 5-10 pound book. I couldn't wait to finish these big books not only because I wanted to find out how the story ended, but also because I just didn't want to carry around the book anymore.

2) Right here. . . right now!
My biggest qualm about ordering clothes, books, and other items online is that I not only have to pay for shipping and handling, but I also have to wait for them to arrive. It’s often the case that I'll purchase a book online and then have to wait 3-4 days before I can start reading it. Meanwhile I have nothing to read. With an e-reader, I can download a digital book and start reading immediately. No waiting required!

3) Space Saver
One of the main issues with living in Manhattan, or just being a girl anywhere for that matter, is having enough space for all of your stuff. Currently my books are spread across all areas of my apartment. The majority of my books are on my bookshelf, but the ones that don't fit are located under my bed, on my windowsill, in my closet, and there might even be a couple mixed in with my clothes in the dresser. This is where an e-reader would come in handy! Plus I'd have more room for new clothes.

Reasons why I prefer books

1) Money, Money, Money. . . Money!
E-readers currently range anywhere from $200 to $400 and on top of that you still have to buy the e-books! With regular books you can borrow from the library or friends, buy used, and/or resell. Plus, think about how many books you can get for the cost of one e-reader.

2) Browsing bookstores
One of my favorite things to do during my free time is to wander around a bookstore and check out the books. Then, I'll either buy the book(s) there or I'll go home and purchase the book used online to save money. Unfortunately, an e-reader takes away the fun element of browsing the store and buying the book then and there. Plus, even if you find the book you're looking for, it might not be available in the electronic format yet.

3) Checkin' it out
If I'm not browsing bookstores, buying books online, or borrowing books from a friend, I am checking them out for free at the local public library. Unfortunately many public libraries do not have the funds to offer digital e-books online for users. So in the end, the e-reader is put to waste if you’re checking out books from the library.

4) Smell, sight, touch
Maybe it's just me, but I love being able take a look at all the books I've read on my bookshelf at home. I don't know what it is; seeing them all lined up on the shelves just makes me feel so accomplished. Not only does looking at my collection of books brighten up my mood, but you know when you're reading that 500 page book and you're on page 490? Seeing all those pages I've read just makes me feel so rewarded that I'm almost finished. Plus, don't you just love the smell of a new book?

5) Don't let the book um. . .drop?
I am one of the clumsiest people I know. Whether I'm tripping over my own two feet, spilling coffee on myself, or accidentally dropping my cell phone on the ground, I have learned I do not do well around super-expensive electronics. This is why an e-reader is completely out of the question for me. I mean, if I had a dollar for every time my cell phone has flown out of my hands, I'd probably have enough money to buy an e-reader.

So after writing my list weighing out the pros and cons for e-reader vs. books, I think I'll scratch off the e-reader from my holiday shopping list and save up my money for more books.What do you think? Do you have any pros or cons that I didn't think of?

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

  1. trista

    my mom wants a kindle fire so bad and now shes getting one thanks to black friday im also getting a dsi:)

  2. trista

    i think kindle fiers are better than books because there portible and they have games on them for when youre board lol :)

  3. Comment #26

    A book is like a mouse on a computer, and an e-reader is like the mouse pad on a laptop. Both do the same thing, but the mousepad is a nuisance but convenient, the mouse is more comfortable but less practical. Which ever you prefer is your own opinion, but you can use both.
    By the way, books are way cheaper on a kindle, some are free as they don’t have to print them.

  4. Jen

    The E-reader isolates us from other people and the social interaction we gain at a library or a bookstore. Many of us already spend most of our day with computers and kids now spend their free time with their Xbox and not playing with other kids outside.

  5. S

    I have an e-reader, and it has many pros/cons. One pro is that I can carry it around a lot, without needing a huge bag. Also, mine has no-glare from the Sun, so I can read it outside. Another pro is that I can drop it and I won’t lose my place. I can highlight important details, bookmark pages, and search for a certain quote. Some cons to having an e-reader, however, is that in class discussions, I can’t keep up because the e-reader page numbers are different from the actual book’s pages. So when my teacher says, “Turn to page 50 and look at so-and-so’s dialogue”, I have to search for it… which takes about 30 seconds longer than flipping through pages. Also, another con is that I will go to school and use my e-reader, and the battery will go down. Sometimes, it’s even completely died and shut off.
    All in all, the e-reader isn’t that bad. If you’re looking to save money, ask your parents if you can get a “family e-reader”, like mine is. We’ve got books for me, magazines for my mom, and newspapers for my dad on it. And because we’re sharing it, I didn’t have to pay as much for it! (:

  6. emily

    if u drop stuff so much maybe u shouldnt have a cell phone or another “expensive device”. with an e-reader u can get a cover, a screen protector…? so the e-reader IS better than a book. the only downfall is that it doesnt smell like a book.thats it. the books are cheaper on an e-reader rather than in a book store not the other way around!

  7. Rachel

    Thanks for your pro/con list! I was considering purchasing a Kindle simply because it gives you the instant gratification of having the book immediately, but after reading through this list, I think I’m just going to stick with books. Call me old-fashioned, though I’m still a teenager, but there is absolutely nothing like looking at all my nicely kept, fresh, clean, new smelling books all lined up on my bookshelves!

  8. ERIN

    I think that an e-reader is a good idea. It does not stop me from going to the book store and the sagas I am reading I totally purchase in the bookstore. I think the best place for the e-reader is however for school books. As a grad. student the books tend to get quite heavy.

  9. SomeGuy

    E-books now use a technology called E-Ink. It is not LCD lit. It is easy on the eyes in that it looks like actual ink. If you compare it to an iPad, you will see the clear and obvious difference. Also, E-books DO have access to the latest books that come out. The new Kindle 3 can hold up to 3500 books. Try carrying that in your backpack.

  10. aida

    Even Harry Potter-sized books aren’t that heavy if you get them in paperback. And a Kindle is already about 2 or 3 pounds in your bag.

  11. Cathy

    I love them both, we can coexist with both and be happy. It does not have to be one or the other

  12. Aleea

    The ereader is not ready to become very popular since the ereader has many flaws. The ereader doesn`t get the lastest books or the books that are over 50 years. Secondly, it hurts your eyes more than reading a paper book. Thrid, it wastes metal and unlike trees, metal can’t be reproduced or growed. Fourth, you can’t feel the book, you can only feel the ereader. The only good thing about the ereader is that it saves space, it isn’t heavy unlike carrying 5 books and it’s a lot of books in one device.

  13. Shane R

    I know this post is a year old but it’s still a relevant question so I thought I’d add my opinion.
    A few of the posters mentioned that the screen is hard on the eyes, but that is not so.
    E-reader screens are not lit like an lcd screen, they are electronic ink, that is a physical ink that commands a certain form through electric charge.
    The screen casts no light of its own and you have to read by a form of light the same as any physical book.
    It’s no harder on the eyes, perhaps less so since the contrast is superior to how most paperbacks are printed.
    The pro’s of actual books are purely physical. The feel, smell, weight and visualization of the collection can never be matched by the electronic counterpart. However, should any of that really bare an impact?
    The content of the book is what matters. So the question is really if you can sacrifice the physical properties and still enjoy the actual act of reading?

  14. Theresa

    As a person who loves the feel and smell of books I was initially repulsed by the idea of an ereader, but after my mom asked if I wanted one for Christmas I thought it through again. I live overseas in a non-English speaking country, English language books are not only expensive, but they’re hard to find. in my case it would broaden my current reading options and save me the expense of having to ship boxes of books home when I go back. I’ll probably end up taking my mom up on her offer.

  15. megan

    i like the ereader more then a real book cause it is great for traveling and it is lite wieght and has long charge so i think the ereader is better p.s GO JUSTIN BIEBER I LOVE HIM

  16. kate

    im so on the hump with this here is what i think authors shoudl do, when u buy a book it shoudl come with a downloadable version than that way when ur on the plance on cottage u can take ur ereader n when ur home u can enjoy the physical book

  17. Dana

    I got my Sony eReader for Christmas and I love it. I love actual books, and some of my favorites are not in digital format yet, but the reader is great for traveling. My question: how do I find libraries online that will check out books that I can download to my eReader, and how does that work?

  18. AussieKylee

    I love owning and holding books, however I grew up reading e-text and I can read 100 words heaps faster on a screen than I can on a page. I just got an e-reader for X-mas and blew through an e-copy of a book I quit reading a year ago because it was taking me too long to get through.
    That’s not to say I won’t give up reading books on lazy Sunday days, and I do think it’s sad my generation is so dependent on e-text. What if there’s a major energy or power shortage in the future, and we have to read text? But I guess I’ll worry about that when it happens. And as long as they’re still printing multiple copies of books for the sake of archiving and preservation across the world, I hope our society won’t have much to worry about in terms of losing knowledge. All that said, I’ll keep reading my e-reader, especially if it means I can get through 10 e-books in the same time it would take me to read one physical book.
    Cheers!
    K

  19. Cynthia

    I got an e-reader for Christmas. I am still getting used to it. However, I know already that it will not duplicate my experience with books. I thumb the pages while reading, underline and add notes, gaze back at the cover for the visual interpretation of the story, and look back at titles of old favorites on the shelf. I know I will love the reader for travel but not sure if I will completely give up on “real” books.

  20. John

    The e-readers from Sony allow you to borrow library books from most libraries. You don’t need to go to the library either because you can borrow through the internet, which waves gas. Also, the books are usually 15% cheaper on an e-reader than a regular book. I use a Sony Reader to read most of my library books and bookstore books from online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.

  21. Carole

    When at home curled up in my favorite chair by the fire…there is no substitute for a book…BUT (if you can afford an ereader…there is nothing better when traveling to have to only take your ereader rather than toting 4, 5, or 6 books with you, or waiting in the opthamologist office forever… no need to carry that heavy book around. Books vs. ereader…having one doesn’t negate the other.

  22. Ashley

    In school we are having a debate on why the e-reader is good and why it is bad. I am on the good side annd one reason is because if you but the cover it makes your e-reader waterproof.

  23. Amy

    I LOOOOOOOOOVE the Twilight Saga but the books are SOOOOOOOO heavy and they’re hard to carry around. If i got an e-reader and put them on it I think it would be much easier.

  24. Kelsey

    I actually asked for an e-reader for my birthday. Here is my reasoning: I read a LOT. At least one book a day. Harry Potter-length books. I use the library often, but it doesn’t always have the book I want. When it doesn’t, my only option is to go the bookstore and buy it. And yeah, I love the bookstore. I can spend a whole day in there. But thinking about how many trees I’m killing off makes me feel kind of guilty, especially when there is an alternative. Also, money was also an issue. A Kindle is $260, and every book on there is $10. Books are at least $10 at bookstore, and are often more. For example, I recently got the Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, which is $25. Also, getting an ereader doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the library. So saving the environment and saving money are the two main reasons I’m getting one.

  25. RingoSugar

    You know, electric screens can make you have really bad eyesight. that’s another reason why you should’t have an e-reader. you can also make your eyesight go bad by reading, but the effects take longer to occur.

  26. twilight fan girl

    I actually thought an e-reader would be cool, because not all of them strain your eyes. Some of them are actually designed without a backlight, to be safe on eyes. Now, though, I remembered why I was nervous about whether or not to get an e-reader. I just LOVE the feel of books and looking at the fancy covers. It is so calming. Sometimes it is like I feel ashamed to have so much technology in my life!

  27. hugepresident

    YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Books rule over e-readers. The only good thing about e-readers is that they don’t weigh a lot

  28. Andrea

    Being able to flip the pages and run my hands over the cover, spine and pages make up the whole reading experience for me.
    The book’s contents just don’t seem as effective when I’m reading them electronically. Besides, I love stocking my bookshelves and being able to just pull one off the shelf whenever I feel like reading it.
    An ebook download just seems so… impersonal. I wouldn’t be able to put a bookmark in it, I can’t sign my name onto it to mark my ownership, and I can’t carry it around in attempts to entice people into reading my favourite book ever.
    I’ve had this e-reader vs books debate with myself before, but my only pro for an e-reader was the fact that it’d save a lot of trees. But books just aren’t something you’d want to stop buying just to save trees. Cut down on deforestation, sure. Print on both sides of the paper, why not? But there’s no way I’d skimp on my books. Books are forever.

  29. KenJr

    For someone who likes to, and has the time to browse bookstores and libraries, tree-books may be the best way to go. But your dollars argument is flawed. I’ve owned a Kindle for nearly two years and it’s paid for itself through the difference between e-book and tree-book prices.

  30. Bookworm288

    My mom has an eReader, which is great for travel and downloading, but just for reading we both prefer regular books.

  31. Marytonga

    E-readers just take the fun out of it! I happen to love browsing the library, and how do you do that with a reader? I just love the smell of books, the feel of paper, the look of a cover! Besides, you can’t read as much with a reader as real books, since your eyes get tired!

  32. HarryRonHermioneFan23

    My mother was talking about e-readers, and now I don’t really want to have one. I think your post was very helpful to everyone. Thank you very much!

  33. bluebear120

    i think you made the right decision. I just have one quick question, how does an e-reader really work? Do you download the book off of the internet?

  34. Cal

    I love books! E-Readers(kindles) take out the fun of reading real books. I love technology, but if this world is getting too techy,that they destroy the pleasure of buying, taking out,reading, and holding real books,then it’s gone too far. You go to the bookstore or library ancxhiously awaiting the next book in your favorite series(Charlie Bone, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Twilight,Hunger Games, His Dark Matireils, Animorphs-whatever)and get the pleasure of holding and walking to the cash register to buy real books- not some fake system of getting books from a kindle and only having them on it and not on your shelf. Real books are MUCH better!

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