Why I Love (And Hate) Digital Books

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You would think that, working at a company called “Author Media,” all of the employees would be digital book fanatics, carrying around our Kindles all the time, everywhere. But that’s not the case. I, for one, have had a hard time being won over by digital books.

I even went through a period where I flat-out refused to consider buying a digital reader. But I’m slowly being won over. Ideally, I think everyone should own an e-reader, but also buy as many hard copy books as possible. Here’s why.

Reasons to Love

1. Digital books are cheaper than hard copy

Most of the prices I’ve seen for Kindle copies of books on Amazon.com fall somewhere in the $3 to $10 range. A brand new copy of the book, on the other hand, may be anywhere from $10 to $30 dollars. While you may be able to find cheap, used copies of the same book for less than the Kindle price, that’s not always an option. The lack of printing & shipping costs make digital copies easier and cheaper to produce than hard copies.

Also, you just can’t beat free, and the Kindle library has hundreds of free books–including many classics. For book lovers on a budget, it doesn’t get better than that.

2. Digital books are easier to carry

Since I often take public transportation here in Chicago, I try to keep the items I’m carrying to a minimum. This is both for etiquette reasons (I don’t want my stuff spilling over onto the seat next to me), as well as health/postural reasons–I can’t carry heavy bags for too long before my back, neck, and shoulders are in pain. With digital books, all I need to do is bring along my smartphone or Kindle. This means little to no extra bulk and weight.

3. Digital books can be read anywhere, even if I forgot my digital reader

The great thing about digital readers is that you can sync your computer and smartphone with your account, so if you forget your digital reader at home, you can still read your books (assuming you didn’t forget your computer and smartphone, too).

4. Digital books are easy to obtain

Before digital books were invented, I had to weigh the costs and benefits of ordering a book online vs. going to a bookstore. On one hand, ordering a book online was easier and required no gas money or driving time. On the other hand, going to a bookstore eliminated shipping costs and got the book in my hands that day.

Digital books combine the best of both worlds–no need to spend time or gas driving, no shipping fees, and you can start reading the book as soon as you buy it.

5. Digital books don’t get lost or ruined

Ever been searching your house for a book, but just can’t remember where you put it? Or have you lost your only copy of your favorite book when it got dropped in water, or had food spilled all over it? Digital books never get lost or ruined, and while it’s possible to lose or ruin your digital reader, your books will still be accessible via your smartphone or computer. If you have to replace your digital reader, you won’t be starting your entire library over again.

Reason to Hate

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1. Digital books can’t fill a bookshelf

I love looking through my bookshelf, seeing what books I’ve read and what books I still have to read. It’s a lot harder to keep track of how many books you own but haven’t read on a Kindle (at least for me, as a visual person). I also enjoy when friends come over and browse my bookcase. It’s a lot harder for a friend to browse my digital library.

2. Digital books don’t foster relationships

I know some people find this annoying, but I love it when people notice what I’m reading and start asking questions about it. Digital readers don’t open themselves up to that kind of conversation.

3. Digital books can be hard on the eyes

Granted, Amazon specifically designed the Kindle to be as close to words on a printed page as possible. However, if you’re reading on your smartphone, computer, or using the backlight on the Kindle, the digital screen is difficult to read for long periods of time. Not to mention it’s not very healthy.

4. Digital books aren’t as easy to lend

Lending digital books isn’t impossible. Kindle let’s you lend out books for 14 days at a time. Of course, the person you’re lending it to has to have a Kindle-compatible device, and it’s harder if you want to lend the book out for a more extended period of time.

5. Digital books can’t be held in my hands

Ultimately, this is why I try to get a hard copy of a book whenever I can. I love the smell of a new book. I love the feel of the pages. And mostly, I love the feeling of pages moving from my right hand to my left as I progress in the book.

What about you? Do you own a digital reader? Do you prefer digital books or hard-copy books?