Four Letter Nerd

The Kindle vs. the Book

I love reading books, and have ever since they used to give out Pizza Hut discounts based upon the number of books you read over the summer. Hell, I still have the “Book It” medal they gave me; I don’t even remember what I had to do to be awarded that medal, but I cherish it like I am sure Chewbacca would have had he received one at the end of A New Hope.

Well… this is awkward.

The downside of loving books is moving them. My wife and I recently bought, and the biggest (and heaviest) group of boxes was my book collection. If it wasn’t for the eBooks on my Kindle I would have had another three or four additional boxes.

At one point I had so many that my rather large bookshelf was packed, the top was covered with stacks, and there was an additional four foot stack off to the side of it. There were so many books lying around my office that it looked like the books had begun to reproduce like Tribbles in Star Trek: The Original Series. I finally had to get rid of some of them (I judged them based on re-readability, and aesthetics of the binding because I am shallow when it comes to book aesthetics).

While nothing holds a candle to the look and feel of a traditional book (don’t actually hold a candle to a book… it is flammable), the convenience of e-readers and tablets are starting to sway me. Convenience, like most other things now, trumps everything, and the benefit of convenience in regards to reading is that unlike convenience in food, reading won’t give you diabetes. And like diabetes, nontraditional reading is on the rise.

Nice try, McDonald’s

The topic of e-readers/tablets versus traditional books is somewhat one-sided. There are a lot of detractors of e-readers, but generally people who enjoy reading on a device also enjoy a traditional book, they just appreciate the convenience of non-traditional reading. Actually there was a study done by the Pew Research Center that shows owners of e-readers read an average of eight more books a year than your more traditional bibliophile. The study also showed that 58% of e-reader owners also consistently read traditional books.

Over the past few weeks I have noticed a trend for me in particular. If I am not reading on my Kindle app, which I use on my iPhone, I do not read nearly as much. The reason for this is merely convenience.

When I am reading a book on the Kindle app I always have it with me and it is always easily accessible. If I have five minutes of downtime I simply pull out my phone and read a few pages, if I am on my fifteen minute break at work I read a few pages, if the diuretic properties of the coffee I am drinking nonstop makes me have to use the restroom somewhat frequently then I will read several pages. The list can go on forever. Latency issues on the computer? Then I read. Waiting for my wife to come out of Kroger? Another chapter bites the dust. If I have my phone, which is 99.9% of the time, then I have access to an entire library.

That is amazing.

An added bonus is that I don’t have to awkwardly walk through the office with a novel under my arm while heading to the restroom. That is like a walk of shame, but for completely opposite reasons.

I bought a paperback book the other day that I have been looking forward to reading, but I have only read a few pages of it so far. By comparison, I bought a book on my Kindle at the same time as the paperback and I completed it, then I bought another Kindle book on Monday and I completed reading it on Friday. That’s two books in two and a half weeks, and the only reason they were read and the other was not is because I constantly had them with me.

However, there are some disadvantages to nontraditional reading. For one thing, traditional books just look and feel better. There is something impressive about a personal library. The look, feel, and smell of a traditional book is an experience that you will not get with a Kindle. Also, books on the Kindle, while cheaper than new hardbacks, are more than you will spend at a second hand bookstore.

Most of the main arguments against reading on a device focus on a sense of nostalgia and loyalty, which is understandable. For me though, the ability to have access to a good story whenever I want trumps my desire for a nice looking library.

If your objective is to get information or a story, then an e-reader is a much more efficient and convenient choice.

So what side do you fall on? Do you enjoy the convenience of reading on a device, or are traditional books your sole source of information?

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Gonna toss the Nook into the ring. I prefer that (eReaders) much more over real books. When I was recently on vacation, I was able to read two books simultaneously with just a click and tap away from each other. Plus I never have to worry about the wind blowing my page over or worry about damaging the spine trying to read the words on the inner part of the pages. That being said, my Nook is the simple one. I would not be able to read books on a led screen like the iPad or Kindle Fire.

  • I’ve been a habitual reader since I could read. Before I received a kindle for Christmas one year, I was adamant about reading “real books.” Now I love having a kindle, and since I got a smartphone, the app.

    The only time I feel like I need real pages between my fingers is if I’m studying or researching something. Kindles are not condusive to flipping around and hilighting and rereading and comparing.

    So other than books for school or books for personal research, I haven’t bought a real book just to read since Christmas 2009.

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