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Is reading physical books better than reading on Kindle? Or, is it the other way around?
This has been a raging debate amongst book buffs like you and me ever since the e-ink technology became good enough for mass consumption! But, which is better – Kindle or Books?
Generally speaking, reading on Kindle is better if you are an avid reader. Reading on Kindle can not only be more environment-friendly, but it can also save you money as the Kindle edition of a book is usually cheaper than the hardcover or paperback version of the same book!
But, these are just a few key points on why a Kindle may be better. However, we will need to understand both the advantages as well as the disadvantages of a Kindle in order to make an informed decision and fully answer this question!
Through this article, I hope to help you make a decision about one or the other. I shall provide some clear benefits and disadvantages (based on my experience) of adopting e-ink technology such as a Kindle for reading books.
Plus, in the end, we shall conclude on what method is better for reading.
So, let’s get started!
A Quick Note – if you don’t have time to read through, here’s my take – I highly recommend purchasing a Kindle as it is totally worth it! Also, I’d suggest purchasing this Kindle version as you get the best bang for your buck with this model! In my other article, I’ve shown how you can easily recover the cost of a Kindle within just 6 months even if you are a casual reader!
Advantages of Kindle Over Physical Books
Although eReaders such as Kindles often receive a lot of criticism from purists and critics, the fact remains there are several advantages of using a Kindle over physical books at least in certain situations!
I shall admit, I too have previously been on the side of reading physical books. But, I did realize that there are some clear advantages of using a Kindle once I started using it!
Let’s look at some of the major advantages of using a Kindle over books –
One of the biggest advantages of using a Kindle is the convenience.
A Kindle Paperwhite (the most successful model of the Kindle) weighs just about 205 grams (0.45 lbs). On the contrary, an average book sold on Amazon printed in the USA weighs about 450 grams (about 1 lb) and contains 330 pages!
So, Kindle not only weighs lighter than a physical book but it can also store and provide access to thousands of books without any further addition of weight!
Furthermore, the dimensions of the Kindle are 6.9” x 4.9” x 3.2”. This means the Kindle is only slightly bigger than some large mobile phones, and can easily fit within a purse or a laptop sleeve!
It is really hard to beat this convenience factor of a Kindle by physical books!
2. Access to Thousands of Books Anytime
As I mentioned earlier in the article, you can access literally thousands of books at any given point in time if you are using a Kindle!
In fact, I did a detailed assessment of exactly how many books can you store on a Kindle. It turns out, you can easily store about 1500 to 1800 books on an 8 GB version of a Kindle! The 32 GB variant allows you to store many more books!
It is nearly impossible to have access to these many books if you read physical books. Furthermore, even if you do decide to purchase over a thousand physical books, storing and maintenance can become a huge issue! Plus, finding the location of a specific book becomes a big problem as your books increase in quantity.
On the other hand, you can store and access your favorite book easily when using a Kindle. What’s more, you can easily open the right book simply using the “Search” function on a Kindle!
3. Massive Library of Books
I have just alluded to this benefit of using a Kindle in the previous point mentioned above.
Amazon provides you access to millions of books from well-known authors and some upcoming ones. This massive library of books is available just at a touch of a button! You can almost always find your favorite book on Amazon!
It is nearly impossible to have access to so many physical books unless you read in a library! Even so, you don’t always find the book that you were searching for.
Publishing hundreds and thousands of physical books need a lot of paper. And the only source of paper (currently) is trees!
A worrying fact is that about 80,000 to 160,000 trees are cut every single day around the globe in order to manufacture paper! Cutting trees at such a high rate adversely affects climate change.
So, it is no surprise that reading books on a Kindle is more environment-friendly than reading physical books. If you are even slightly concerned about climate change and the impact of humans on our environment, then digital books and Kindle are a great start!
Many people believe that you end up paying more when you read on Kindle simply because buying a Kindle alone has a cost attached to it!
What’s more, you still have to pay for books even after you’ve paid for a Kindle! So, wouldn’t it make sense to simply pay for the books directly? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy the physical books instead of paying for the Kindle version of books and a Kindle, right? Wrong!
In my other article on “how much do Kindle books cost?”, I did some extensive research and concluded that on average, the Kindle edition of a book is usually 36.5% cheaper than the hardcover version and 32% cheaper than the paperback version of the same book!
This doesn’t take into account the fact that you can also find hundreds of free books on Amazon! (more on that later in the article)
I did a rough calculation the other day, and I estimated that you can basically recover the cost of your Kindle if you were to read as little as just 20 Kindle books!
It is sufficient to say that reading books on a Kindle can be cost-effective!
6. Perfect for Traveling
The fact that the Kindle is really convenient to carry with you, and you get access to thousands of books at any given point in time, makes the Kindle a perfect travel companion for a bibliophile!
I mean, think about it – when you are traveling, you can access more than just a few books without adding weight to your luggage if you are using a Kindle! On the other hand, you can barely carry 2 or 3 of your favorite physical books.
And, if you run out of books, ordering a book is really convenient on a Kindle!
Finally, a Kindle can easily last a few weeks on a single charge. This basically means you will still be able to read on your Kindle if you forget to charge it during your entire month-long vacation!
This is akin to reading a physical book in that you don’t have to worry about charging!
7. Great for Night-Time Reading
Do you live with a partner who gets really annoyed when you keep the lights on in the room while reading when they are trying to sleep?
If so, then a Kindle is the perfect option for you! One of the biggest advantages of a Kindle is that you don’t need to keep the lights switched on in order to read a book!
The Kindle comes with a screen light that allows you to read comfortably even in a dark room. What’s really useful is that the light is just enough to avoid straining your eyes, but also dim enough so that others in the room don’t get disturbed.
Obviously, you can also easily adjust the light settings on a Kindle if you need the screen to look a little brighter.
8. Kindle is Waterproof
Another advantage to reading on a Kindle is that it is waterproof. Meaning, the Kindle should work just fine, if you accidentally drop it in shallow water for a few minutes.
You obviously can’t drop a physical book in water without damaging the book! This makes Kindle a great option when you are reading by the pool or on the beach!
One thing to note here is that a Kindle won’t survive underwater for more than a few minutes. Whereas a book could probably be salvaged and the damage would be similar irrespective of how long it has been exposed to the water.
Either way, I don’t recommend that you drop your Kindle or a physical book in the water. If at all this situation does arise, it will most likely be accidental in nature and will probably lead to exposure to water for a very short period of time. Kindle would work well for such a situation.
9. Read Books for FREE
Another advantage of reading books on Kindle is the access to free books! You can literally find hundreds of FREE books for your Kindle on Amazon! Access to free books is not easy and there is no direct link to find free books (for a reason!). However, find free books using this link.
Furthermore, there are a few ninja ways to get the same book for a cheaper price. For instance, you can try to change the country of your Amazon store location. Some books are offered at a cheaper price in other countries!
You can also take a Kindle Unlimited subscription. This effectively reduces the price per book as many books are offered for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.
Likewise, if you have access to Prime Reading, you can also get free books every month. You will need to be an Amazon Prime Member in order to access books with Prime Reading. You get access to thousands of books through a rotating catalog in Prime Reading.
Check out my other article to learn more about Prime Reading.
10. Get Access to Books Instantly
Another minor but important advantage of using a Kindle is that you get instant access to books that you purchase.
Typically, when you order physical books from Amazon, you’ll usually need to wait for 2-3 days for the book to be delivered to your location.
However, that is not the case with Kindle books.
When you purchase a Kindle book, it is instantly made available to your library and if your Kindle is connected to a Wi-Fi network, you can almost immediately start reading it on your device!
Another feature that I really appreciate is that Amazon now allows you to pre-order books that haven’t been released yet! You can simply make the payment for the book beforehand, and when the book is released, it will get automatically added to your account!
This way I don’t miss out on books from my favorite authors!
11. You Don’t Lose Books Even When You Lose a Kindle
Lastly, one of the other advantages of using a Kindle is that you don’t lose your books!
Once you’ve purchased a book, you’ll always be able to access it as long as the author doesn’t remove it from Amazon.
Even if you lose a Kindle, there are multiple other ways to access your Kindle books even if you don’t use a Kindle.
Furthermore, once you purchase a new Kindle, you can seamlessly transfer books to a new Kindle with just a few easy steps.
Drawbacks of Reading On a Kindle
While there are several advantages of reading on a Kindle, there are certain disadvantages of using a Kindle too! It is important to be aware of these shortcomings before you decide to purchase the device!
So, let’s understand some of the drawbacks of a Kindle –
1. Kindle is Not a Real Book
Let’s face it! No matter how many ever advantages a Kindle may have over physical books, the fact of the matter remains that it is not a real book.
Kindle is perhaps the best that the technology can get as close to a real book as possible, however, the experience is not the same.
If you like the conventional experience of book reading, you will need some time to make that shift.
I too struggled with this aspect initially. I personally needed about a month or so of using a Kindle to finally accept it! There are useful tools like immediate access to a thesaurus that enhance your reading experience.
But, chances are you will take time to get convinced. And, it is not going to happen until you start using a Kindle.
2. You Need to Charge a Kindle
One biggest advantage that works in the favor of physical books is that you can just pick it up and start reading! You don’t need to worry about charging it!
Contrarily, when you use a Kindle, you need to charge it from time to time.
So it is not like you won’t be able to read the next day if you forget to charge your device (as is the case with most smartphones).
Still, you do have to remember to charge it every once in a while.
3. Sharing Books With Others is a Problem
One of the major drawbacks of a Kindle is that sharing books with others is quite difficult!
If you have to share a physical book, all you have to do is simply pick up the book and hand it over to your loved one! But, that is not the case with a Kindle book.
Sharing a Kindle book is just not allowed (legally at least).
I mean, there are ways you circumvent this problem. For instance, you can lend a book that you own to anyone through Amazon. However, it is only for a period of 10 days. Furthermore, you can only lend a book just once!
That said, you can use the Amazon Family Library (previously known as Amazon Household) to share books with your spouse and kids. But, it is not as easy as sharing a physical book and you can’t share with people outside of your household! (Click here to know more about Amazon Family Library)
Likewise, there are ways to remove the DRM protection from the books. But, these are not legal and not something I would recommend. Additionally, this requires you to have some advanced technical knowledge.
4. Kindle Can Stop Working or Show Errors
Reading a book doesn’t have a learning curve. You simply pick up a book and start reading! Furthermore, you don’t expect a book to not allow you to read.
I mean, your book doesn’t decide to not show you its contents on a given day. It just doesn’t happen!
Unlike a book, a Kindle is a gadget. There are numerous errors that it can encounter some of which can prevent you from reading your favorite book!
Although, this rarely happens! I’ve owned a Kindle for over 5 years now and I’ve only had to fix an issue just once. That too because I forgot to charge my Kindle in time.
But, when these errors do take place, it can be really frustrating!
Just something to be aware of.
Who Should Consider Buying a Kindle?
You should definitely consider buying a Kindle if you either travel a lot, want to save money, or read books for free, like easy access to several books at any time, prefer an environment-friendly reading option, or need a reliable way to read books at night with the lights off!
In fact, if you prefer any one or combination of the advantages mentioned earlier in the article, chances are you will really enjoy reading on a Kindle and you should consider buying a Kindle!
Who Should Avoid Buying a Kindle?
The truth is Kindle is not for everyone.
You should avoid buying a Kindle if you are a purist or someone who really enjoys the experience of reading physical books, or someone who takes pride in showing your book collection to your friends and family!
All of the above things are only possible if you collect physical books and are not possible with just a Kindle.
For those of you who still prefer reading physical books, I’d suggest considering buying or perhaps borrowing a Kindle for a few weeks. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. You can still buy physical books even if you own a Kindle.
The key thing that I’d like to highlight here is that you won’t be able to decide your true preference unless you use the Kindle yourself!
Which Kindle Should You Buy?
The best Kindle to buy is the Kindle Paperwhite. It is waterproof, has adjustable warm light, and has better screen resolution and front light than the basic Kindle. Furthermore, it has most of the important features available in the more expensive Kindle variants!
Some people may consider purchasing the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition which costs $50 dollars more than the base model of the Kindle Paperwhite but comes with 32 GB of storage space, auto-adjusting light, and a wireless charging feature.
For some, just these three extra features don’t justify the additional $50. While, for a few others, the 32 GB storage space you get is totally worth the extra dollars!
Here’s my take on it – if you don’t listen to audiobooks via Audible and primarily only prefer to read books on your Kindle, then 8 GB is enough! However, if you prefer to listen to books in addition to reading them, then definitely go for the Signature Edition of the Kindle!
By the way – if you don’t use audiobooks, you should really check them out! Audible is currently offering a FREE Trial for 1 month. Using audiobooks allows you to read more books even when you are walking, doing household work, or exercising!
Do check out my other article on the number of books a Kindle can hold. In it, I also share a few different scenarios based on the behavior pattern of the user and the ideal model to purchase based on the usage.