Set your hardbacks and tablets down for a moment. I know what you are thinking.
“Is he really going down this road?”
The answer is yes. Yes I am.
The past few weeks, I’ve been struggling on deciding which platform I wanted to buy into. I’ve recently just gotten back into reading and have been enjoying it immensely. Yeah, knowledge! However, I feel like I’ve come face to face with the ultimate question.
Paper books vs ebooks — which do you prefer?
For Paper Books
1. You can lend/give a paper book to a friend.
This is perhaps one of the most obvious reasons people buy paper books instead of their e-counterpart. For example, I just recently finished reading All In by Mark Batterson. If a friend came up to me and asked me if I had anything that could help challenge his faith because he felt dry, I could just give him the book. No DRM to worry about. No Publisher restrictions. Done and done. That was easy right?
Now, I know that the Amazon/Kindle platform has one of the most robust ebook systems to date. I also know about the Kindle Lending Library. For those of you who don’t know, it allows you to lend out one of your ebooks to anyone with an email address. (Provided of course you bought the ebook from Amazon). This is a very cool feature. However, it only allows you to lend it out for 14 days. During those days, you cannot access your ebook, and only your friend can. After those 14 days are up, it returns it to you. While this is pretty neat, the downside is that you only have 14 days for your friend to read the book.
Since I already brought up Amazon, I’ll keep picking on them a little bit. With a paper book, you can freely give it away to someone after you have read it. If you buy into the Kindle platform, after you have purchased a Kindle book it is tied to your account. You cannot give it away. Yes, you can purchase and extra copy for someone else if you really want to gift it, but if you want to give away the copy you already bought, it is not possible.
2. You Don’t Have Media Distractions.
I have a nexus 7 tablet and I love it. I use it primarily for media consumption. However, since it is a tablet, it offers a lot more than just a simple e-reader device would. I can easily get distracted and hop onto Facebook. I might play some Pixel Dungeon or even pop on a movie. Because of these things, it is very easily to get distracted from your books.
With paper books, it feels so nice to unplug for a while and just dig into a good book. As Church techs, we can consume so much screen time, that after a while we just get burnt out. Reading a paper book can help give you that outlet from your normal tech. Its not only freeing, but refreshing as well.
1. Reading after dark.
The time where I personally get the majority of my reading in, is in bed at night after my wife has gone to sleep. She can’t sleep with any lights on, so in order to not disturb her, using my tablet to read is fantastic. I can cruise through the pages without disturbing her. I also find it much easier to read in bed with a tablet. I can use the Moon+ Reader app for my Nexus 7 and set it to automatically scroll. So if I am laying on my side I don’t even need to move my hands to turn the page. This is extremely convenient.
2. A library in your pocket.
How amazing is it that this day in age we’re able to carry an entire library worth of books in our pocket? Our access to books in 2014 is unprecedented. You can be waiting for the subway and decide you want to catch up on that latest bestseller. Boom. Done. You can be out in southeast Asia somewhere, and decide you actually do want to buy that cookbook. Boom. Done. We can literally carry thousands of books on our mobile phones or tablets if want. That is pretty incredible.
The other nice thing about keeping your library digital is that if you highlight passages, (at least within the Kindle app) all of your notes and highlights are synced. This is a big deal for me because I like to take lots of notes when I read.
Why Not Both?
There are always going to be those hardcore book nerds (I can say that because I’m one of them) that love the smell and feel of a real paper book. For them, it is the only true way to get immersed in the text and really take hold of the story. Then there are those on the other side of the spectrum who are pushing for technology to move forth through e-books. They are loving the fact that they don’t have books cluttering their houses and can carry a vast amount of them in their pocket.
Why don’t we meet in the middle? Let’s end the debate about which “format” is better. If you want to read a paper book, then do it! If you want to read the e-book version, then do it!
Generally, I’ll buy the e-book version of the book. I find that the convenience of the e-book outweighs the smell and feel of a real book. I especially like to buy the e-book versions when the books are really long. If I end up really enjoying the book or I could see myself gifting it to a friend, then I’ll buy the paper version after that to keep on my bookshelf. This way, I conveniently weed out books that I wouldn’t want taking up clutter around my house.
Amazon currently has a service called Kindle Matchbook. Basically, they take paper books that you have bought, and offer the kindle version of them for .99, 1.99, and 2.99 respectively. Even though this is only for select titles, I’ve found that many of my books have qualified for it. 9 /10 times I will go this route. I love having both version right off the bat. I can immediately start reading the book while I wait for the paper one to ship to me. Plus, what is an extra buck or two to get both?
What are your thoughts on paper books vs e-books?