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.

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