04 September, 2011

Why Books Are Better Than Kindle*

*or Kobo, or Nook, or iPad, or any other kind of e-reader

  1. If you lose one, you’ve only lost one.
  2. You can loan a book to a friend.
  3. Or you can borrow one.
  4. You don’t have to turn it off when your flight is taking off or landing.
  5. Others can see what you’re reading.  You might make a new friend based on a common interest.
  6. You can impress your date with the type of books on your shelves.  Or, you can see what your date is interested in by their shelves.  Both excellent conversation starters.
  7. You can take old books that you no longer want to a book exchange to trade for new books, or at least new-to-you books.
  8. Or you can donate them to libraries or charity shops so they can continue to do good after you’re finished with them.
  9. Or you can leave them somewhere for others to pick up.
  10. A book can be signed by the author.
  11. Books can appreciate in value.  Ever seen a bidding war for a version-1 pdf?
  12. The battery never runs out.
  13. Books weather and age.  A book can tell a story quite apart from what is written in it.
  14. You can write a dedication in a book you give as a gift.
  15. They have page numbers.
  16. You can throw a bad book across the room, out the window or up a creek with minimal damage.
  17. You can tell when a book has been read and how much it has been returned to.
  18. Books can be beautiful.
  19. Books are biodegradable.
  20. You can use cool bookmarks.
  21. You can highlight passages or make notes by whatever means suit you.
  22. Books are compatible with anything.
  23. No DRM.
  24. Books smell awesome.
  25. Books make a house feel like a home.
  26. Books have different fonts.
  27. A well-loved book will naturally fall open at your favourite part.
  28. A cookbook can be open in the kitchen with minimal risk of damage from spatter.
  29. If you buy a book from one store, you can still books from other stores.
  30. Books come with their own customised dust jacket at no extra charge.
  31. Paper is not a proprietary format.
  32. You don’t have to worry that a newer, better version will come out next year.
  33. Books aren’t printed in Chinese sweatshops. (yet)
  34. Books don’t crash or need their OS updated.
  35. Once you own a book, you own it. The store can’t take it off your shelf when the licencing arrangements change.
  36. Books don’t automatically update when you don’t want them to.
  37. Bookshelves are works of art.
  38. Books are tactile.
  39. Books don’t need protection. They’re either flexible enough to take a bit of bending or hard enough to resist it.
  40. Instant on.

Update: John Carney has written a very witty response here:  http://johncarney.posterous.com/68424958 


  1. I was going to address some of these but it looks like somebody beat me to it.

    But I will point out that plenty of books are printed in China. I don't know if the conditions are sweatshop but I doubt they're ideal.

    But overall I agree. I'll take a book over a small computer any day.

  2. I should have thrown and "only" in there.

  3. I am doing a persuasive speech for school on why books are better than e-readers, and your article has helped me tremendously in my background research. Thanks so much!!

  4. Energy is not cheap and it's going to get more expensive. The energy to make a book is once, and that energy is conserved when the book is loaned or passed on. It's almost like the energy to print and manufacture a book is stored into the book. E-books need energy and therefore indefinite (though small) consumption beyond the publishing date in order to be read. Gadgets need to be charged. Even if they are low power gadgets, multiply that energy demand by millions of consumers and someday, billions. It adds up. A fifty year old book needs no further input energy to be read. It has already been made. Just sayin'.

  5. This is true, however, environmental impacts are not always what we might assume.

    I find Slate's Green Lantern column to be an excellent resource for auditing environmental impacts.




  6. I ride the subways in NYC and I love to judge people by their books. Amazingly, no matter how attractive they were minutes earlier, an adult reader with a yet another Harry Potter book can lose most of their charm. :-)
    When reading a thick book of fiction there is a sense of knowing where you are in the story by the physical pages traveled and those yet to go.