Can E-Readers Really Replace Printed Books?

In recent years the arrival of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle or the Rakuten Kobo have made e-books all the more popular. You now have the possibility to store thousands of books on one small device. But can e-books really replace the magical effect you get from a gripping paper book?

Benefits of E-Readers

There are quite a few benefits to using e-readers over paper books. First of all the weight, it is now possible to read a 1000 page book on a device that is half the weight of the paper book version. This gives e-readers a huge advantage over paper books when it comes to travelling. Furthermore, instead of bringing 2–3 books in your suitcase, you can now have a huge library on the go.

Another benefit is that e-books can be a bit cheaper than paperbacks and amazon even offers a kindle subscription for 9.99/month with the possibility to download an unlimited amount of books so if you read a lot this will give you significant savings.

Finally, let’s talk about the environmental impact, by having all our books on this one device, we’re definitely saving a fair amount of paper and the fewer books that are printed, the fewer trees that are cut down.

Disadvantages of E-Readers

However, and this brings us to the disadvantages of e-readers, as with smartphones and tablets, they also use precious metals and plastic, therefore, impacting the environment differently. If these devices aren’t recycled properly, e-readers can also contribute to the growing amount of e-waste in the world, which is an absolute catastrophe for the environment.

For all the benefits of e-readers over paperbacks, there are plenty of disadvantages. Coming back to the money side of things, there is a definitive upfront cost when buying an e-reader. If you go for a lower-end model like the Kindle or Clara HD they generally cost 80–130€ however if you go for high-end models like the Kindle Oasis or the Kobo Forma you will be paying 250–280€. Another disadvantage is the cost difference between an e-book and a paperback isn’t as significant as you’d think. You can sometimes find some good deals for e-books or even some classics that are free however more often than not they will only be 1–2€ cheaper or even the same price. Despite not needing to be printed, ebooks still need to be formatted to work on different e-readers and devices which is one of the reasons the price difference isn’t all that interesting.

There’s also a certain social aspect to printed books; being able to lend books you’ve enjoyed to friends and family or them lending some to you. This doesn’t exist or is very limited when it comes to ebooks. You’re normally allowed to lend kindle books if the publisher allows lending but I think you can only do this once so it’s hardly the same. There’s also the concept of book clubs, it’s hard to imagine everyone turning up with e-readers but maybe this is the case.

Finally, the biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is the effect you get when reading an ebook. I find that you can’t beat the smell of a good paperback and it simply isn’t as enjoyable an experience when reading an ebook. I think nothing can beat a good page-turner which is why the charm of a printed book makes it come out on top.

Bottom Line

I think that e-readers can be very useful for people who are often on the move and I definitely see the benefits while travelling. But at home, I don’t think I could give up using good old paperbacks. Obviously, there is nothing stopping you from using both, paperback at home and e-readers on the move. I think that is probably the best way of combining the two.

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Scott Hickman

Founder of The Detechtor and host of The Detechtor Podcast | Techy | Politics enthusiast | Musician | Loves coffee ☕️

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