If you like to read, then you will inevitably at some point been asked to weigh in on what might be the most urgent question of modern times. Are books better, or tablets? Each camp has been demanding an answer for years, so we’ve stepped up to detail the pros and cons, and put the issue to bed.
The pros of books
One of the most oft-repeated benefits of a book is that they offer a much more tangible reading experience. Silly as it may sound, the ability to engage with a book with your other senses can really help you get into the reading groove. Another advantage of physical books is the ability to find them at a low price. Second-hand bookshops are a god-send, and physical books really shine where technical texts are concerned. They generally cannot be found online for very cheap, and ebook prices for more academic texts can be down-right extortionate. Physical versions of these books, however, can often be found in second-hand book stores for a fraction of the price.
The cons of books
The most blatant weakness of books is their fragility. Ultimately a book is just a lot of paper stuck together, with all of its weaknesses. Not only do they experience wear and tear that will inevitably make them too fragile to be read, a simple accident can irreversibly damage a book. Physical books also take up a lot of space. It’s easy to forget when you’re just taking one around in your rucksack, but things become difficult once you have more than like, 20 books. Any sizeable collection is going to quickly provide a hefty, and extremely heavy, obstacle if you need to move them.
Pros of a tablet
The greatest advantage of a tablet is the sheer amount of books that can fit on one. Thousands upon thousands of books can be stored without even making a dent in storage capacity. Tablets also have their own cost benefits. While academic texts are decidedly not cost-efficient, books in the public domain absolutely are. Books with expired copyright can be collected in their hundreds and shunted onto a tablet for mere pennies. Tablets are also much more convenient. You can go to an online bookstore and have a book on your tablet in minutes. They also have numerous widgets like dictionaries, quick searching, and font adjustment, all to make a reading experience smoother.
Cons of a tablet
The most common complaint regarding tablets is that, unlike physical books, they don’t provide much of a sensory experience. For instance, page-turning animations are nice but not a sufficient substitute for the actual action, and the inability to see where you are in a book can make it feel like you’re just wading through infinite pages. The biggest concern with tablets though, is that you don’t necessarily own your books. If your ebooks are DRM locked (a way of controlling access to purchased content) and the distributor decides, perhaps due to a publishing dispute, to remove books from a particular publisher, those books might simply be taken off your device without your say so. Worst case scenario, you could wake up one day to find your entire library has evaporated.
Well we’ve looked at each, and we feel the answer is…we don’t have one. It’s pretty clear that as things stand, we’re in a book limbo where both have distinct advantages, and will be the better option depending on what you’re buying. Rather than worry about which is better, just enjoy books whichever way you can.