Print vs. Digital: Which is best for reading?


Posted on: 27 May 2019 by Nicola Mills

Just a few years ago, it seemed like the world of print would be dead.

Just a few years ago, it seemed like the world of print would be dead. The advent of eReaders seemed sure to make reading from pieces a paper a thing of the past. But that hasn’t happened, and the last couple of years have actually seen digital book sales fall, and physical sales increase. The debate rages on then. What are the advantages and disadvantages of reading from a real book versus a screen? Let’s take a look at some of the talking points.



This one is of course a big plus for the eReader and the eBook. Books can take up a lot of space, making them trickier to carry around, display and store. Marie Kondo, famed housekeeping and interior design guru, hit the headlines recently when she proposed that book lovers should look to edit their shelves with a little less mercy than they usually do, because clutter simply isn’t good. Ebooks are certainly a way of achieving this, and undoubtedly help with a more minimalist lifestyle. However, many books are attractive objects in their own right, and make great decorations.



This is a really interesting point that many people are still unaware of. When you hit ‘buy’ on an eBook, you’re not actually purchasing it in the conventional sense of the word. You’re actually just licensing it. In practice this doesn’t usually mean much at all, but there are those that love the idea of ownership. There’s also the fact that if your chosen eBook retailer goes bust, you may well lose access to the books you’ve licensed, which has happened as dozens of eBook stores have closed in recent years.

Ease of reading


This one is generally down to personal preference. eRreaders are in many ways easier to handle, and the backlit screen on good models means that they can be read without any additional source of light. However, many people find that reading for a long time on even the special paperwhite screens is somewhat of a chore, and that there’s simply no replacement for a real page of paper. Try out both and see what you like best.



No matter what you might read, the fact is that research hasn’t shown any significant difference in the potential health impacts of reading on a screen versus reading paper. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that warns of the damage that eReaders might do to your eyesight, but in reality, the same old rules of ensuring that you read in appropriate light apply to both print and digital.



Finally, let’s think about cost. Firstly there’s the fact that you need to buy an eReader in the first place, which can be quite expensive for a top end model. This makes quite a difference. There’s also the fact that there’s no such thing as a second hand eBook. If you want to buy the lastest blockbuster, you need to pay not far off full price rather than wait until someone else has finished with the book and it appears on second hand book stores. On the flip side, if you are the sort of person who buys lots of new books, eBooks are usually cheaper than hardbacks and often paperbacks too.

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Nicola Mills

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