Paper, Plastic, or Headphones?
“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” - Stephen Fry
Many years ago, the question of whether you preferred a hard/paperback book, an e-reader, or an audiobook would not have been a question or even a thought. Rather, the question would be if you preferred to buy from the store or borrow from the library. However, we are in the age of multiple options so we’re going to dig into what version of books we prefer.
Today, the choice for me is between a paperback or my e-reader, with my e-reader winning much more often due to the convenience of being able to carry multiple books at any given time. I am always reading more than one book at a time and can take my e-reader with me wherever I go, plus I can read it in any light setting. Now, if I had to answer this question 15 or more years ago, I would have had such a difficult time choosing between buying a paperback or going to the library. I loved owning copies of books, filling my bookshelves, and being able to pick one of them at random and read it again. However, I also loved making a trip of going to the library and just scouring the shelves to find new authors, new books from my favorite authors, or even just oldies that I never heard of before but sounded interesting. I would borrow ten plus books at a time and made sure to finish all of them before they were due back so that I could always get new ones each time I returned the previous.
I grew up reading paperback books and therefore will always enjoy buying new books to own but now that I have an e-reader that I can carry with me wherever I go, I find it so much more convenient. Now, I am more selective of the paperbacks that I buy. I tend to buy paperbacks of the books I know I am going to want to read over and over again, books that I find comforting, books that I can lose myself in, books that have made an impact and I just want to own (book lovers you know what I mean lol). There is something about physically turning a page, or being able to flip back several pages to reread a new character being introduced, or a momentous event that makes all the difference in the plot of the story. To me, it is not the same feeling when reading these specific books on my Kindle e-reader because it’s not as easy to turn back ten pages or have that anxious feeling of wanting to reread a paragraph once you realized how important it was. There have been a handful of books that I have found and read on my Kindle that I then just had to go back and purchase a paperback version so that I could easily read it when I need that comfort or need to get lost in a story that really impacted me in some way, or even just brings me joy and excitement.
While I love paperback books, an e-reader is so fun to me. I can bring it with me wherever I go and have multiple books downloaded and at my fingertips. I love to use it when I am first waking up and still laying in bed because I do not need to turn any lights on to read. Same goes for when I am ready for bed, I can lie there winding down for the night reading a story with all the lights off. I can easily read from it when I am riding my stationary bike for exercise, and I love to have it in my purse for mind breaks or just in case I have a few minutes to kill wherever I may be. Since I have a Kindle, I also have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone, so if I ever forget to bring my Kindle with me I can just pull up one or two of the books right on my phone just as easily. The best $10 a month I ever spent is on my Kindle Unlimited subscription. With the number of books I can read and access, it is a book lover’s dream!
If you haven’t guessed it yet, audiobooks are my least favorite way to read books. The only time I can enjoy audiobooks is if I am in the car on a route I already know and travel often so that I don’t have to be hyper alert to street signs so I know when I need to turn, change lanes, etc. The other time I will listen to audiobooks is if I am walking for exercise because that is a more mindless activity where you would be able to listen and pay attention more. Audiobooks are harder for me because I am a more visual person so if I am listening to the book I often feel like I have to be hyper focused and then if I feel like I missed something, it is the hardest to just go back and listen again; it throws me off. So, with that said, it is much more rare for me to listen to books than the other two.
When e-readers first became popular, I was so against them. I was all about having a book to hold while reading. As for audiobooks, I couldn’t stand when my mom would listen to them in the car! My opinions have definitely changed over the years and now I honestly love having so many ways to read books. My preferences change on the daily and are based on what I’m doing, the mood I’m in, or why I’m reading the book.
Physical copies of books are my go to when I need to really pay attention to a book. This lets me reread sections that seem to stick out to me or that I maybe didn’t grasp as well as I should have, as well as take notes to discuss later, either with my book club or during a book review. I also just love that feel of holding a book. And what about the smell of a new book? There’s nothing else like it and it’s such a comforting thing. I just also love the thought of cuddling up with a good book under the blankets with my dog. Sometimes though, honestly, if I’m being really lazy, my arms get tired from holding a physical book up. This is one of those times when I definitely prefer my Kindle. I can prop it up and just tap to go to the next page.
My Kindle is my favorite medium to read on when I’m traveling. You can have so many books downloaded at once, and it’s so easy to just pick up right where you left off, especially if you fall asleep while reading (which I tend to do when on vacation!). It’s also great because you can switch between your phone, the Amazon Cloud Reader on the internet, and on your Kindle. An ebook is also super handy while traveling because you can read it in any light. If you’re on a plane and don’t want to bother the person next to you, you can dim the light and continue reading, or you can still read it while enjoying time outside (plus if you finish your current book you have another one right at your fingertips!).
I do like listening to audiobooks, but it has to be books that are ‘easy’ reads. ‘Easy’ reads to me are usually my comfort reads (the audiobooks I listen to the most are my Harry Potter audiobooks). Before the pandemic, the main way I read a book was listening to it on my commute, which was one hour each way. I would fly through books so easily driving back and forth to work. Now I only work in the office one day a week, so I spend much less time listening to audiobooks. I still tend to listen to audiobooks (those Harry Potter ones of course) as background noise while I’m doing odds and ends around the house. Physical books and my Kindle win out most often nowadays.
I think physical books also give you more of an exciting experience. It’s not just clicking a button on your phone or computer (usually). With physical copies of books, you can get the added experience of browsing the bookstore’s shelves, flipping through books before purchasing them, and then more easily finding other books by similar authors or more books by the same author. I also love looking at the different displays bookstores come up with to grab your attention. I also love making a day of going to bookstores with a friend. We can grab lunch and then spend hours browsing the shelves of local bookstores. Hmmm, I think Kelli and I will need to plan a bookstore day soon!
Which is your preferred reading method and for which occasions? Do you prefer one over the other depending on circumstance, mood, location? If you’d like to see more of what we’re excited to read or what we’re reading now, check out our Goodreads profiles (Chelsea and Kelli) or follow us on Instagram and Facebook! Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with our reviews and all things books! Thanks for reading with us!