Digital Books VS Printed Books

Digital books exploded into the mainstream a number of years ago. They are everywhere. I have seen eBook devices for sale in many poor countries I have visited and in developed countries like the UK, digital book sakes have long since overtaken printed book sales.

I would definitely consider myself a technophile; or as Eddie Izzard would say, I have technojoy. Since I was a child I was always interested in games, gadgets and devices that required batteries. I was not one of the first to own an eBook reader. In fact, I did not buy my Kindle until early 2011. I did, however, quickly fall in love with the medium.

The Joy of Digital Books

I bought the Kindle for my trip to Vietnam with my friends Sam and Kevin from WP Squared. It was a lifesaver. For years I had carried three or four printed books with me on each of my trips to Asia. Not only did they take up a lot of room and add a lot of weight to my bag, I also ended up selling them after a few weeks after I had read them. I remember once spending around £45 on new books at the airport before a trip, only to find myself selling them two weeks later for around £5. In their place, I had swapped my brand new books for photocopied books with pages missing.

So for anyone who loves to travel, digital books are a life saver. In Vietnam I was downloading new books on buses frequently, and we used the 3G on the Kindle on a few occasions to find information about hotels and destinations. My girlfriend borrowed (read: stole!) my kindle last Summer so on our long trip around South America in 2012/2013, I used my iPad to read books. It’s actually a great little device to read books on as battery lasts a long time when reading books, and it is easy to quickly swap to another app when reading a book in order to take some notes.

To this day, I continue to buy and download digital books on a regular basis. I do not see that ever-changing.

Reading Printed Books

As an author, I have never forgotten about the printed book market. There is undoubtedly less shops selling printed books, however there is still a huge market for them.

I have tried to adopt a minimalist approach to “things” over the last few years. After ripping all my music from my CD’s, I gave all my music to my brother. Likewise, I gave him all the DVD’s I owned after realising that they did nothing but take up space in my house.

When I was travelling South America, I thought about selling all my printed books when I returned to the UK. A bookshelf takes pride in my bedroom, though since all the books I have read over the last two years have been on a Kindle or iPad, I started to feel that my bookshelf was nothing more than a showpiece.

My opinion on this has done a u-turn since touching down in Scotland last Monday. I have rediscovered lots books that I had not read, in years; including old poker books and classics such as Stephen King’s On Writing. It may sound strange, but I had forgotten how great it was to lie back and read from a normal printed book. Over the last week I have gotten into the habit of reading from a traditional book before going to sleep. It feels good to get back to basics.

There Will Always Be a Market for Printed Books

On Friday I got a new Windows phone delivered. One of the first apps I installed was the official Kindle app. I tried to download some of the books I have purchased through Amazon, but I could not. The message stated:

License Limit Reached

You have exceeded the limit on the number of devices that read this item. You may deregister any device no longer in use and delete the content, which will allow you to download this item. You may also purchase another copy from the Kindle store.

Just to clarify, I primarily read digital books on two devices:

  1. Kindle
  2. iPad

My kindle was registered in my Amazon account:

Registered Kindle

In addition to my iPad, it turns out that I had more devices registered to me on Amazon, including my old phones and the Kindle for Pc reading application.

Registered Amazon Devices

Once I had deregistered my old phones, I was able to successfully download my purchased books to my new phone.

I love the way that the Amazon digital book store works. It is great that I can sync books across my main devices, even if there is a limitation on the number of devices I can use. This issue did, however, remind me that when you buy a digital product, you are not getting something tangible in your hand.

As someone who travels a lot, digital books are the most practical solution for me. They allow me to read my whole book collection wherever I am in the world (I am still amazed by that!). I am therefore going to continue to buy digital books as they allow me to read my books anywhere (Amazon whispersync is amazing). The Kindle Paperwhite 3G is on my shopping list, which will no doubt encourage me to read even more digital books.

The last week has certainly brought back my love for printed books. If I buy any printed books, it is unlikely that I will read them outside my home, however my reading experience will be better when I am at home.

The prices of printed books vary too. Sometimes it is much cheaper to buy a digital book, whilst other times a printed book will cost just the same as a digital book. This will sometimes influence your decision on what version of a book to purchase. Here is one thing I have noticed: The prices of second-hand printed books on eBay are very cheap. Some are more than half the cost of a digital book. If you are looking to absorb yourself in a topic, I encourage you to check out online auctions such as eBay and second-hand book shops. You may be surprised at the bargains you can find.

So my advice to you all is to embrace the digital revolution and buy a device that lets you read digitally, such as an eBook reader or tablet. It will allow you to read books on the move, such as on your journey to work. Just do me a favour and do not forget about printed books. It seems like a cliché, but there really is nothing that compares to reading from a printed book.


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I am an experienced blogger who has been working on the internet since 2000. On this blog, I talk about WordPress, internet marketing, YouTube, technology and travelling.
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