Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kindle v physical book

I love books. I love reading. I wish I had time to read more than I do. I have always loved real, physical books, with covers and pages. I have a brain that seems to remember where I have read something in a book (left page or right page? Halfway down the page? About 40 pages ago... that kind of thing) making it easy to flip back to find something if I need to.
I thought I would hate a Kindle. I resisted getting one for a long time. I thought I would miss the physicality of a book.

Well, I do and I don’t.

Why I prefer a physical book:
  • When I read a Kindle book, I miss the spatial memory – I have no idea how many pages back I might have read something and the left page/right page aspect is of course absent. That’s all crystal clear with a physical book.
  • Unless I am reading a physical version of a book, I frequently have no idea what the proper title of the book I’m reading is, or who the author is, unless it’s a book with which I’m already quite familiar. I assume this is because I don’t see the cover except when choosing to read it, whereas with a physical book, I see it every time I pick it up.
  • ‘Bookshelves’ on the Kindle are just not the same as real bookshelves. I also find it easier to browse real bookshelves with physical books – pick them out, flip to the back cover, read what the blurb says.
  • I can lend/borrow physical books. I can leave them in my will (assuming anyone has the same eclectic taste as me!).

Why/when I prefer the Kindle:
  • I keep a note of what I read and also whether it was on Kindle or physical book. The first year I had a Kindle, I read about twice as many physical books as I did Kindle ones. The next year it was about half and half. Now I would say that I read more Kindle versions than I do physical versions. I also note how long it takes me to read a book and, even comparing books of the same length, I read Kindle versions in less time than I do physical ones. I’ve recently got a Paperwhite and I think I will read even more on that than I did on the older version. I don’t know why I read faster on a Kindle, but I suspect that it’s because I can change the font size and line-spacing and can speed-read more easily.
  • When I’m travelling, I can just take my Kindle and have several books available to read (saving luggage space!!).
  • I have the Kindle app on my phone, which means that if I have a few spare minutes and my phone with me, I can read a few pages of a Kindle book, whereas I may not always take a paperback out and about with me.
  • I have terrible joints in my hands and the Kindle weighs less (even in its cover) than even the smallest paperback. The cover can fold back on itself and has a hand-slot so I don’t even need to hold the thing!

I have been surprised by how much I love my Kindle and how much I read on it in comparison with physical books. I haven’t shifted away from physical books entirely (I’ll keep my pledge to read the printed word!) but my Kindle is fab.

What do others prefer?


  1. I prefer the Kindle for all the reasons you list. I still have hundreds of physical books and still buy more, but most of my reading is Kindle-based.

  2. You pretty much listed all my opinions on it! I love the ease of a Kindle, but it can't replace my love of real books. I start craving a "real" book after just reading Kindle books for a little while! I resisted buying one until I was pregnant with my second child and realized a Kindle would make reading one handed so much easier. He ended up being a high needs baby, so that Kindle quickly won me over through the long nights of sitting up with a baby!

  3. I love the feel of some printed books and all books I treat far too preciously, I get annoyed if i bend a corner or drop a crumb, the thought of writing in one is just impossible. The Kindle has save me from all that book worship nonsense...still buy them though.