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Discussion: E-books are real books too

As you probably know, next week I’ll be starting my MSc, and I’m in the process of in with my other half and his family in order to make my commute to uni slightly shorter.  One of the biggest things this means for me is that I have a less space – particularly for books!  We’ve managed to find space for one small, half-height bookcase (three shelves), and I’m only taking one shelf of books with me (to allow for when I buy/receive more, or when I pick up more when I’m visiting home).  That means I’m going to have to think really carefully about books that I buy, because my family are moving house too, so I can’t just keep dumping books there every week…

The logical solution of course is e-books.  The problem is, although I adore my Kindle, it just feels….different.  While my partner has become an ebook convert, I still very much prefer physical books: all I currently have on my kindle are review copies, freebies, and books that were too cheap to resist.  I almost feel like I don’t really own a book unless it’s in my hands, but ebooks make so much more sense for our circumstances, and I’m determined to make it work!

As part of that determination, I’ve been trying to think about all the advantages my kindle has over physical books, and generally exploring the internet for e-reader love (as well as successful ebook converts!).  Lyn of Great Imaginations has a great post defending ebooks, and a lot of my reasons for wanting to like ebooks are the same as hers, but I’ve made my own list of reasons to love e-books so that next time I’m thinking of buying a book I’ve got a handy reminder to encourage me to buy the ebook!

Space at home

Okay so this one is the primary reason and doesn’t need much explaining! My kindle is smaller than most of my paperbacks, and can hold up to 1400 books. In comparison, the 5 full length, double stacked bookshelves in my parents’ house hold around 1000.  That’s not to mention that I can also delete books from my kindle itself and keep them in my library, so potentially even more.  With space at such a premium, this is a huge advantage of the kindle.

Space in my bag

As I’ll be out of the house all day, taking a book with me every day is a must for times when traffic is better than I expected and I arrive early, a lecture starts late or finishes early, for reading during my lunch break, etc etc.  I can stick my kindle in my bag without worrying about whether I’m going to finish the book and be left bored, which might otherwise mean packing two books.

Instant choice

If I decide once I’m out that actually I really fancy a sci-fi read (or something else specific) I can just pick one from my kindle (or buy one), instead of being stuck with whatever I packed before I left.


My kindle is much easier to read on while I’m doing something else (particularly eating lunch!) than a physical book because it’ll stay open without me even holding it!  As well as that, I find it much quicker to dip in and out of a kindle book, because I frequently forget to use a bookmark, and even when I do it sometimes falls out in my bag, whereas with my kindle there’s no time wasted on finding the right page.


I have no idea what the people on my course will be like – readers, non-readers, YA lovers or erotica haters – and I’ll feel a little more comfortable knowing that I can read whatever I want without worrying about people judging my choice!  Plus in public, people sometimes see the cover and seem to take that as an invitation to start talking about the book (whether or not they’ve read it!). A lot of the time that’s totally fine, but just sometimes I want to read in peace 😉


Generally, though certainly not always, kindle books are cheaper (when available).  For the five books I looked at this evening for example, three were cheaper on kindle (Children Of The Mind, Rain, Half a King), one was slightly more on kindle (Shadow and Bone), and one was only available in a physical copy (Altered).

Environmentally friendly?

As a conservation student, making more environmentally friendly choices (particularly when those choices are easy!), is something important to me.  But which are more envionmentally friendly, ebooks or physical books?  Ebooks obviously save on paper, which is a definite plus for them, but it’s not honestly something I know enough about to really judge, and the internet is full of different opinions and calculations.  According to this infographic, the CO2 equivalent for the production of a physical book is 7.5kg, and for a kindle it’s 168kg, suggesting that if reading 20 books or more, ebooks would be more efficent.  According to the New York Times, “With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books;”.  According to The Millions, “it takes five years (32.5 books) of steady eBook consumption (on the same device) to match the ecological footprint of reading the same number of print books the old fashioned way. ”

Confused yet?

Well, the higher values both refer to iPads, as Kindle data isn’t available, but I can only assume the values for my kindle would be lower as it has no backlight, less hardware etc etc.  As well as that, I read a lot more than the 6.5 books The Millions is using as a yearly average. From a quick skim of my 2013 goodreads challenge, I read around 60 ebooks last year alone, so I think for me, ebooks are the more environmentally choice than new books.  Having said that, second hand books potentially risk landfill, so those and library books would be more environmentally friendly still.

So those are all great, logical reasons for cultivating a love of ebooks, if I can just get past my less rational, emotional attachment to physical books!  Any hints to help convert me?

What about you? Do you mostly buy physical or e-books or a mixture of the two?


7 thoughts on “Discussion: E-books are real books too

  1. Hmm, I’m pretty sure a regular Kindle doesn’t equal 100 normal books. Maybe around 30-40 (: And we should also consider that although most books are made from nature-friendly paper, not all of them might be. Especially those print on demand books have very heavy white bleached paper, which doesn’t seem very ecofriendly to me.

    I think Kindles are just so easy to pick up. When I’m some place, I would sooner pull my Kindle out of my bag than a paperback. I have no idea why though. And I found I read faster on a Kindle because I don’t have to turn the pages, AND no hand cramp from holding a heavy book!
    Celine recently posted…Literary Fiction Mini-Reviews #1My Profile

    1. Ooh that’s definitely a good point about the paper types etc. More and more now I’m seeing places giving away free books to save them from going to landfill which is just sad on every level, so I like knowing that any ebooks I buy won’t end up unloved in landfill!

      Haha I know what you mean about the convenience. Matt’s been reading my Robin Hobb books recently, which are all physical copies and he’s not loving the weight 😉 I just find the kindle quicker to pick up for short periods, because I literally just have to turn it on and go, rather than finding the right page etc.

  2. Another option would be to just use your local library 🙂 All of the books I read come from the library. I have a small basket that sits besides my desk, and I keep my library books in there (right now it has 5 books in it). No clutter or bookshelves taking up lots of space, the books are totally free and best of all-you still get that ‘real’ book experience when reading 🙂
    Finley Jayne recently posted…{Friday Edition} Sunday Post & Blog Ahead Sign Up Post!My Profile

    1. That’s definitely true. I love my library at home, but I’ve not yet joined the library near my other half’s place, and it’s definitely not practical for me to keep driving home to use my current one!

      But yeah, those are definitely advantages for library books, and I did get a few out from my library at home recently. I should definitely add joining our new local library to my to-do list! I love the idea of having a set place for the library books too – I’ve never bothered with a physical TBR pile or anything like it, but that could definitely work for me.

  3. Before I got into book blogging, ebooks were not my thing. I used to be part of that camp that was like “omg printed books over ebooks 4ever!” Used to. Now I totally love ebooks. It’s so much easier to borrow ebooks from my library compared to actually going over there to check out books (and it feels a lot cleaner too). Your points about saving space are so true! My kindle holds more books than my current bookshelf, and I’m grateful to have the space free for other things.

    Ebooks are also so much cheaper. Physical books run for high prices here, and while I like buying physical books, my wallet can’t handle it. There’s also the Kindle Freebies, which make me very happy. 🙂
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Talk To Me 40: Characters being TOO snarkyMy Profile

  4. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite 6 months ago and it really changed my life so far. Its practicality and cheaper books are so enjoyable that nowadays I difficultly buy physical books, just those ones that I REALLY liked and are beautiful in my bookshelf. hasuhashusah

    By the way, as I’m Brazilian, I just read books in Portuguese, but when I’ve bought my Kindle I started reading in English and it’s much easier due to the e-reader, I can find the releases faster and cheaper, mainly here in Brazil.

    Have a good week and great readings!

    P.S.: Sorry for the errors in English 😛
    Vagner Stefanello recently posted…Resenha: As Mentiras de Locke Lamora – Scott LynchMy Profile

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