To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

Picture of a table with a teapot and a kindle

Introduction – What is an eBook Reader?

Some people think that books furnish a room, while others consider excess books clutter and prefer eBooks.

eBook readers first came to the market in 2004 with the pioneering Sony Librie. However, the idea dates back to the 1930s when Bob Brown envisioned a reading machine in his manifesto The Readies.

‘An e-reader, also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital e-books and periodicals.’ (Wikipedia)

In theory, any device that can display text, such as a tablet or phone, can be used as an e-reader, but e-readers are specifically designed to be kinder to the eye. eBooks feature something known as e-ink, which emulates paper.

Nowadays, when we think of an eBook reader, we think of Amazon’s Kindle, which, upon its release in 2007, sold out within five and a half hours and is the most popular. Nook and Kobo are two other popular devices.

As stated above, eBooks divide the crowd, and many still prefer the tactile nature of good old-fashioned paper. I am not here to convert anyone one way or another. Personally, I use both. I want to outline the pros and cons of eBooks vs paper in the article below.

Kindle on a woodden surface

Advantages of Kindles over Books

Space Saving

Kindles take up less space on your shelves. If you are an avid reader like me, buying many books takes up space in your home, making it feel cluttered. A Kindle, however, is only 174 x 125 x 8.1 mm or 6.8”.

Light and Portable

Kindles are light and very portable. The Kindle Paperwhite 2021 weighs 205 grams instead of 283 grams for your average paperback book. If you travel, you only need to take one device, and you can store thousands of books on it. In the olden days, my suitcase was overflowing and heavy with books.

You can adjust the Font and Size.

Kindles are ideal for older people or anyone with visual impairments because you can change the font and the size, making it easy to read even without classes. You can also change the font type to find one that you like.

Eco-friendly if you are an avid reader.

A German author, Katarina Schickling, who wrote about being green in everyday life, devotes a whole chapter to eBooks vs traditional books in Der Konsumkompass. While I won’t bore you with the details, she says that 99% of energy is used to produce the eBook reader and only 1% in reading. This is because the e-ink technology only uses power when turning the page. She further says that reading thirty-two books of two hundred pages and keeping your device for 3 years or longer is more eco-friendly than reading books.

Libraries, in my view, are still the best in eco-friendliness as each book is read by hundreds of people, not just one.

Easy to get books.

Get any book in any language at the click of a button. For bilingual people like me, getting books in a foreign language has never been more accessible. It doesn’t require trips to the bookshop and weeks waiting for it to arrive. The same applies to any book that is hard to get.

Free reading.

There are tons of free books that you can read on your device at no charge. Project Gutenberg, to name just one, lets you read and download many of the classics. Your library should also provide you with free eBooks.

Sync across Devices.

While eBooks are best read on your Kindle, they also synchronise across devices, so when the battery is low or you forget your Kindle while out, you can read any book you started on any computer or tablet with the app installed.

Built-in dictionary.

Kindles have built-in dictionaries in multiple languages, allowing you to look up words quickly without going online and getting distracted.

Notes and Highlights.

Kindles allow you to take notes and highlight sentences that you can export to your computer, making it super easy to use when studying.

Someone holding a kindle

Disadvantages of Kindles

Access only to one Shop.

One of the significant disadvantages of eBook readers is that they are usually linked to one shop, which means you can only buy books there. The Kindle is linked to Amazon, whose business practice many people critique.

Too easy to buy books.

While getting any book in minutes is excellent, this can also be its downfall. Because it is so easy to buy books, before you know it, you will have spent a ton of money and have more books on your to-read pile than you can manage.

Not suitable for picture books.

Further, because of the e-ink, Kindle and other eBooks are not suitable for reading picture books.

Inability to resell.

Unlike physical books, you cannot resell eBooks you no longer want.

Conclusion – To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

I believe that whether you use an eBook reader or not boils down to personal. Both books and Kindles have their pros and cons. I think that from a clutter point of view, the Kindle wins as it takes up less space in your house.

What do you use when reading books? Let me know in the comments below.

Bettina Anna Trabant, Founder of Life Organised, your professional organising and decluttering service in East London. Eco-conscious minimalist and avid tea drinker,

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