The corner of the books: Reading on paper vs reading on kindle

What a debate I bring to this meeting!

Yes, I am from the old school that likes to enjoy physical books: touch their pages, feel the texture of the paper, the aroma of the ink… read with a pencil or marker in hand to be able to underline all those paragraphs or phrases that I want to keep it in my memory always, every time I pick up that book again and go through its pages already knowing its content.

Books are wisdom, escape, education, imagination. Books are direct passages to worlds never before explored, because they only live and will live in our imagination.

However, I have a kindle that I ordered as a gift for a special event. I also read on a digital tablet, turning pages with the movement of my finger on a black and white screen that I can adjust the brightness with another simple movement.

For a long time, I experienced it as a power battle. Even 10 years ago, many predicted the end of paper books and definitely the end of writers and their stories. However, books continue to fill libraries, people continue to give them away and better yet, books continue to have the opportunity they deserve to be read, on paper or digitally. In both ways, as you like. There seems to be something of a balance.

For some years now, digital books have represented between 15% and 25% of the total consumed books, a figure that of course varies from country to country and year to year (2020, largely thanks to the confinements, saw a boom in the sale of ebooks).

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It is clear that each format has its advantages and disadvantages. That’s why it occurred to me, Sofia’s book cornerwe could evaluate all the differences between paper books and digital books.

Understanding that each reader has, to a large extent, their own relationship with both formats, their experiences and, therefore, a different emotional bond with each one.

In my personal case, I grew up surrounded by books. I have that “connection” with reading that is generated by the unforgettable bonds that life so generously gives. So, for those who grew up surrounded by paper books and magazines, it may be difficult for digital devices to arouse the same sensations, but what about the “digital natives”, who are much more familiar with touch screens than pages? printed?

What is an eBook?

The world of e-books can be a bit confusing. And this is mainly because there are too many words that seem to mean the same thing. After all, what is a Kindle, what is an ebook? They are the same? And a digital book?

The answer is actually quite simple. bookelectronic book and digital book are synonymsand refer, in principle, to the computer file. A Kindle, on the other hand, is a type of e-reader, that is, a device specialized in reading that type of files. Kindledesigned by amazonis the most popular device on the market, but by no means the only one.


Advantages and disadvantages of the electronic book

Cost effectiveness

In this part, the equation is known. A ebook reader it is a technological device, so it is obviously more expensive than a single printed book. However, the price of an electronic book is much lower than that of a paper one, and in fact it is not at all difficult to find ebooks free. The calculation to be made would, then, be in the medium term. Some suggest adding the value of all the books read in the year. If that sum is more than the cost of a Kindle, then it’s a good investment!


For travelers, this point definitely goes to the Kindle: it’s lighter and smaller. Not only long trips, for which a single book might not be enough, but also for short periods: it is not always possible to know what we will want to read when we are at our destination. This means that it fits easily in a pocket, and that we can lie on our backs in bed to read a large book, such as Dragon Dance by George RR Martin, without our arms getting tired. In addition, the ebook works with various types of light. The only disadvantage is that you have to charge the battery, but in general they have so much autonomy, in some cases, up to two weeks!, which is not really a problem.


What is easier, to get a book in its digital version or in its paper version? The answer, as in many other cases, is: it depends. If we are talking about a text in another language or published in a foreign country, it is more likely that we will see it before on the internet than on the shelf. But local novelties and books from independent publishers are usually not easy to find in their digital version. In this case, it mostly depends on the preferences of the reader.


Until recently, the e-readers They barely allowed making some simple marks, but in recent years they have greatly expanded their functions. Now you can underline, quote, comment and copy; there are even more possibilities than in a printed book. However, several studies have recently been conducted comparing the effects of paper and digital reading. The answers are conclusive: we read better on paper. There are several hypotheses about why this happens, from custom, most of the study subjects were educated reading printed texts, to multisensoriality, a book is much more than a visual stimulus: it is also a tactile register, but for the moment there are not too many doubts about it.


At first glance, it seems that owning a Kindle is more environmentally friendly than buying printed books. We are talking about a single device versus a lot of paper. However, several organizations dedicated to the environment maintain that this is not the case. It happens that the “technological waste” produced by a e-reader it is much more harmful than paper, which is a renewable resource. Paper pulp is generally produced from plantations planted for this purpose, so they do not participate in massive clearing, more associated with the lumber industry, agriculture and grazing; and paper is, of course, a recyclable product. It’s not the same with the e-readerswhich usually end up in a technological dump in the third world, where they are incinerated, causing them to release harmful substances.

In 2003, JK Rowling was at the forefront of a campaign to take care of the planet’s forests, when she learned that the Harry Potter books published up to then had required the felling of 6.5 million trees. Since then, all editions of the saga have been published on recycled paper. The circulation of electronic books, on the other hand, does not require the fall of any tree.

So what are we left with?

For many lovers of reading, few places are as pleasant as a library, whether public or private. Going through it, getting lost in it, taking one book and another, leafing through them, is a much richer experience than going through a catalog of digital files and opening some of them to read a few lines. Walks like these often lead to the discovery of works or authors that would not have been reached in any other way and whose reading provides long hours of happiness.

Today everything indicates that the electronic book and the printed book can sustain a peaceful coexistence. It happens that, after a certain volume of reading, having a e-reader it is a great investment; and yet, despite that, many people prefer to have some books in physical format, to review, lend and collect. It seems, after all, that there is no need to choose: we can have both.

Kindle and paper book: Complementary or exclusive?

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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