Kindle ebook or paper book – what’s better?

The discussion seems to rage on at times. What’s better? A Kindle ebook or paper book? I read both, but I prefer the Kindle versions. Some people like holding a book in their hands. So why not discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both?

In this article, I discuss:

The advantages of Kindle reading

When I say Kindle, I mean all digital ebook versions. Whether on an actual Kindle, the iPad Kindle app, or even a Nook. Technically, the Kindle is a book-reading tablet.

I see several advantages to reading books electronically:

No need for light

I don’t need any external lighting to read my book. Therefore, no reading lamp is required.

Adjustable size of text

Being able to adjust the size of the text easily is super helpful. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy when reading a paper book. I tweeted this once, and some smart-alec responded that I could move the book closer to my face. I could, but that’s not the same thing.

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I currently have around half a dozen books downloaded on my Kindle app, and I still carry my iPad Pro. Taking that many books around with me would be harder and impossible. This comes in especially handy when traveling. I can download as many ebooks as I like and have them ready to be read when I’m ready.

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Instant delivery

I want to read a book, buy it, and there it is. The delivery is instant. Super convenient.

Different ways to consume the book

Consuming book content on web-based devices allows us to purchase audio narration. So that’s another way to consume the content, and it can even be done while exercising, walking, or doing other tasks.

Audio books open up another way to consume written content.

The ability to instantly share passages

I love that I can highlight and even share passages on social media in seconds.

The disadvantages of Kindle reading

Even for fans of ebooks on Kindle or other devices, there are some disadvantages. Most notably, the need to have power. Once my iPad is out of juice, my reading time of the device’s ebooks is also over.

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The advantage of hardcopy books

By no means do I think hardcopy books will go away anytime soon. People still buy them, and some prefer to read a hardcopy book over an ebook. Hardcopy books are way more fun for authors to hold up in their promo social media posts of their new book being out, too. But, unfortunately, signed copies of ebooks are not a thing – yet.

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The experience

Holding a book, turning the pages, or maybe ear-marking pages are different experiences from having an iPad, where other notifications might also try to get our attention.

Reading in your favorite reading chair or spot can be enjoyable and relaxing.

Browing existing books

I can browse the books I’ve ordered in my Kindle library – sure. But is that the same as running my hands down the rows of books on a physical bookshelf? I still remember looking through people’s bookshelves in the 90s. It was fun; I’m not sure digital readings can replace this experience.

The disadvantages of books

On the flip side, a disadvantage could be that you don’t have enough room to house all those books. Or it’s inconvenient to carry books with you – like when traveling.

The cost

Sometimes – not always – paperbacks and hardcopy books are more expensive than the Kindle versions. That’s something to consider when you read many books, and the cost can add up.

The text size

Indeed, I’m getting older, but it also seems to me that the font size in books, magazines, and newspapers has been getting smaller. The font size of an ebook doesn’t matter as much as I can set the font size to whatever I want and what works best for me.

For authors: Are you writing a book as an ebook and print book?

Some writers might have reason to publish their book as an ebook or a printed version. Still, in general, it’s a wise strategy to publish a book in all available formats – Kindle, paperback, hardcover. Those are close enough and take a relatively small amount of time to reformat content from one to the other. An audio version is great, too, but that certainly takes more time to produce.

It’s great that consumers have all these options available to them nowadays. If you prefer a Kindle book, read that. If you choose to have a copy in your hands, go for it. I pick the best version for me on a book-by-book basis but default to Kindle.

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