The Paper Book vs. the Digital Reader

July 13, 2012

Today I have a guest post from Chris Lee. Chris will be discussing the ongoing debate between traditional, published books and the new digital reader.

There’s something inherently charming about going to an old bookshop, digging through the shelves, and coming away with some new books to place lovingly on your bookshelf. But there’s also something inherently easier about downloading any book you want instantly to a sleek, lightweight ebook reader. I’m here today to weigh up the pros and cons of each option and (diplomatically) suggest a lovely compromise.

Which is more convenient?
In terms of size, definitely the reader: the average book is 10x20x3cm (purely speculative!), whereas the Sony reader I’ve got on my desk is 11x17x.8cm – much sleeker, easier to slip into a bag (or even a pocket if you’ve got a particularly roomy coat), and of course lighter.
- 1-0 to the reader

Which is easier to use?
In terms of ease of use, I vote the reader: while there are buttons to use, they’re not complicated at all and once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s no harder than turning a page. Flicking between books on a reader is easier than getting up and getting another book on the shelf, as is making notes and marking sections.
- 2-0

Which has more variety?
On an solitary level, a book is relatively limited, whereas one reader can have hundreds of volumes on it at one time. If you consider the entire catalogue of books ever published, books certainly have more variety, although on a more immediate level, readers represent more variety. You can have books, RSS feeds, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and many other text based files at your fingertips.
- This one depends. Let’s give the point to books: 2-1

So this three part comparison ended with the reader coming out on top as a more convenient device, but that doesn’t mean to suggest you should discard your book collection. It is my honest belief that readers and their antiquated physical counterparts can live in harmony - what do you think?


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