Why Digital Books Are Better than Printed Books

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Last year, I read 52 books, the year before, the number was 53. I would love to read more (if I could, I would probably do nothing but read…) but practice has shown me that one book per week is a pace that I can keep without sacrificing too much of my productivity.

Out of last year’s 52 books, I read 12 as e-books using the Kindle application on my iPad. This year, out of the 6 books read so far, one has been on Kindle. If I count the percentages, that makes about 20%. A big reason why the number is not higher than this is the library. I borrow lots of books from the local library, and these books are still traditional print books.

What is the number for you? Do you mostly read digital books, print books, or do you have a good balance between the two?

Last night, for the first time ever, I wished a print book I was reading was digital instead.

It happened as I was reading Seth Godin’s new book, The Icarus Deception. I noticed a great idea that called to be highlighted. On the iPad, all I need to do is to slide my finger over the section of text I want to highlight and a nice yellow highlight appears. If I want to add a note, I can type it in right there. With the print book, I had to go and pick a pen and a ruler, and then manually highlight the words.

As a nice addition, when I highlight text on the Kindle, or add notes, I can share them with the world on my public Kindle profile (unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t show all of them to the public, probably for copyright reasons) and help spread the ideas I find interesting or useful.

There are still downsides to e-books as well, many of them in the realm of DRM or copy protection, so at the moment, I find it hard to say which is better, print or digital. A few years ago, I would have said “real” books are better, without a second thought. Now, I’m not sure anymore.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Why Digital Books Are Better than Printed Books

  1. I just checked my kindle. I have read over 90 books on it in a few years (I would love to read more, though). Digital books are better for consumption (and physically books take out huge amount of space), but when I find a really good book, I usually buy it as a print version, too.

    So, e-books are good for reading, and classic books are more like novelty items.

    • Hi Janne! I think you are on to something here. Digital books help us keep space in the book shelf for the really good books that we want to share with (and show to) friends.

      The rise of digital books is rising the profile of print books, making them feel more valuable than before.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Jarkko – LIke you a read a lot of books. For the past two years I have read almost 90% of them electronically. For one I have found they are generally less expensive, they take less space, less trees are damaged and I have the luxury of having several of them with me at all times should I get bored with one. But every now and then like Janne I will buy the physical books to keep in my library if it is particularly great – (like all Seth Books)

    • I agree with your reasons for reading digitally, Austin! Even though the price of an ebook is not that different compared to the print book on Amazon, I save the shipping, which shows in the price… And you get to read the book immediately.

      …and I too have almost all of Seth books in my library in print. I think I’m missing only some of his earlier works. :)

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