Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Comparative Review: Books vs e-Readers

It's the modern-day debate that has divided the classic 'nerd' camp into two: the old-school bookworms representing one side and the techie geeks on the other. The debate? Which is better, a classic book or an e-Reader?
Archaic artifact or old-school cool?

I will divide this post into sections, tackling the merits of each, as well as the disadvantages. I have strong opinions on this of course, having grown up loving reading more than any other activity. Which one is preferred by a reader totally depends on which factor is most important to the individual: access, convenience, and emotional value - what I call the 'A.C.E.' factors.

On a rainy day, very few things are better than curling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows (yum!), and there are also those days when we just really want  to read something right there and then. A well-stocked bookshelf provides that homey feeling where one can grab a read any time. While an e-Reader may at first seem to provide the same thing, it must be remembered that it is a slave to the power outlet; no battery means no reading, especially on long trips or cold nights without power - both very viable scenarios in the Philippines. A physical book may be a little better during those (rare) times. In contrast, an e-Reader's contents will be inaccessible if one is in an out-of-town trip somewhere with no electricity.

I live in a condominium unit, and most of my books have been either given away to friends or stored in the other home. The main concern of many people in the metro is space, what with Manila being one of the densest cities in Southeast Asia. With this premium on space, very few are willing to trade precious space for a large bookshelf. In this regard, an e-Reader may be the more convenient choice, seeing as one can store dozens if not hundreds of e-books and other reading materials. My iPod, which I use as an e-Reader, already has 14 full-length books stored in its memory (with a few more in my phone), books that would otherwise take up space in my already-full bookshelves at home. It is also far more convenient to use an e-Reader if one is planning on taking several books alone, considering how heavy a stack of books are. The risk with this kind of venture though is that if and when the e-Reader breaks, get lost, or is irreparably damaged, one's entire library goes up in smoke.

Expensive toy or the way of the future?

Emotional Value
What is more important to you? The gorgeous display modes of an electronic library on the screen of an e-book, or the sharp woody smell of paper on a new book? This final factor is highly personal, and is very subject to one's preference. With a good hard-bound book pushing the PHP 1,000 price tag (and often more), a nice-looking e-Reader may have a steep initial cost, but the overall damage on one's wallet may be much less in the long run. I personally like to feel the book that I am reading, to be able to hold the covers in my hands and flip through the pages myself. However, I will have to admit that the displays on my e-Reader are just so nice to look at, with all my e-books lined up so neatly. This could go both ways, really.

In the end, what is better should always be dictated by you. While physical books may take up so much space in the end, the act of giving these books away (or giving them as future heirlooms!) may be worth the trouble they will cause. e-Readers may be more expensive on the get-go, as well as having the 'all the eggs in one basket problem', but the sheer convenience and space-saving feature is undeniable. Choose what will make you happy!

Book image from Kerala Events, retrieved on February 29, 2012.
iPad image retrieved from 5 Top Reviews, retrieved on February 29, 2012.
Thanks to @octopusnicole for the blog post idea.


  1. In my opinion, an e-reader is way more better than those printed books. A device like this we can take it everywhere with us, having hundreds of interesting eBooks on it as well. Personally, I got my favorite books from All you can books, a site told by a friend who recommended it.

  2. Hi Diana, thanks for dropping by!
    I like both, but yes, I absolutely agree with e-readers being really great when it comes to taking it somewhere. I usually just download free ones (there are random daily free ones at the Android market) and there are plenty! :) Thanks for the site link too.