Skip to Content

Books vs. e-book Readers: Helping You Decide

Passion for travelling is often connected with an interest in reading. Afterall, at some point of each trip we get stuck without a wifi signal, not needing to nap, and reading a book is an ideal pastime.

Everybody had to start with physical books. But sooner or later, each of us will be considering a switch to ereaders, be it Kindle, Nook or any other brand.

Let’s have a look at all the pros and cons between them to help you make a better decision:

Physical books

+ Pros of books

  • Books have the physical feel

Book advocates claim there’s no alternative to touching and smelling a real book, turn its pages and look at the pure ink on the paper. This is undeniable.

  • You can bring a book to the beach

You won’t have to worry that the sand would do any damage to it. You shake it off and you’re fine. Similarly, if you love reading just after getting out of water, your book will not mind getting a little wet.

  • Books can be kept in a bookcase

The feeling of accomplishment when one puts a completed book on a bookshelf is precious. Looking at the book spines lined up on the shelf can bring back memories of both the content and the circumstances of reading it.

– Cons of books

  • It’s not convenient to carry many books around

If you’re backpacking, you don’t want to damage your back by carrying a selection of books. Even paperbacks add up.

  • You can’t get just any book in any language while on the road

As a Czech, I never had a chance to find books in my native language outside of my country. In remote areas that are not too touristy, it’s even a problem to find decent books in English.

  • If you read in a language that you’re not fluent in, you might need a physical dictionary

If you have problems to understand the language of your chosen book, a dictionary is essential – meaning one more little book to carry!



+ PROS OF E-readers

  • You can have your entire library everywhere with you

You can read a range of books at once and you still only have to transport your one e-reader. It’s not likely that you’d run out of space, even if you’re a serious bookworm.

  • You can have a dictionary at all times with you

You can get a dictionary on most types of e-readers. Kindle makes it really easy – you just tap a word that you don’t understand and the definition comes up. Very helpful for reading e.g. Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You by Marcus Chown – let’s just say I wouldn’t have it that easy if I didn’t have my Kindle dictionary :)

  • If you lose your device, you still have your library

Your downloaded content doesn’t depend on the one device. You can get a new e-reader, or use apps that help you read it on other devices – e.g. you can read your Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. If you’re online, it syncs with the last page you read, meaning that no matter on what device you read, you’re always on the page where you need to be.

  • It’s easy to get new ebooks, in any language

With access to the Internet, you can easily download new ebooks in any language. Amazon has the famous 1-click purchase that makes it superfast to get new books loaded onto the Kindle. And don’t worry about accidental purchases – you can return an ebook up to 7 days after a purchase and Amazon will fully refund it!

  • Some e-readers have an integrated light

Kindle Paperwhite and the newest Kindle Voyage have a light integrated into it, so you can read in lowlight situations without the help of an external light source. Even better, the built-in light doesn’t compromise the readability and real ink look. It’s quite useful for hostels where bed lamps are scarcer than bed bugs!

  • You only need one hand to hold your e-reader

Even when reading a book as large as Steve Jobs’ biography (700 pages!), you’ll be able to hold it with one hand. Surprisingly, this became a big deal for me. Actually, reading the Steve Jobs book in hard cover made me want to switch to Kindle. Then the Christmas came and guess what was waiting for me under the Xmas tree? :) 

  • Highlighting is easy

You might consider highlighting in paper books easy, but wait until you try it in the Kindle for the first time! Your highlighted notes are saved and you can easily browse them later, on any device.

  • There are many free e-books available for download

If you like classic literature, you can download most titles for free! Here’s a great source: 

– Cons of e-readers

  • It’s more risky to take an ebook reading device to the beach

Sand and water are no good for electronics, and what if somebody steals it? This is the one location where I usually opt for a magazine and don’t take my Kindle with me.

  • eBooks are not significantly cheaper

One would think that if there were no shipping or production costs involved, the price should be a lot lower. Unfortunately that’s not the case. It still costs something to produce an ebook! Not to mention the authors’ need to earn a living… One tip: Don’t buy a new ebook immediately after it’s been published. Wait a few months and you’ll be able to get it cheaper.

  • It needs to be charged

Yes, you need battery power. However, as opposed to smartphones, ereaders have much longer battery life. If I’m actively using my Kindle, I need to charge it max. once per week. Plus, the charging cable has a USB slot, so you can charge it from modern TV sets in hotel rooms or use an external battery that you’d typically carry around for a smartphone.

I hope this post will help you in making your decision on which format is best for you. I’ve been a Kindle enthusiast for almost 3 years now. And I must admit – there’s no way back.

Are you ready to get your e-reader or will you stick with books for a while longer?

In case you’re ready to make the switch, you can get your Kindle here:

♦  Newest Kindle Voyage: $219 on Amazon (features High-Resolution display, built-in light, wifi)

♦  Kindle Paperwhite: $119 on Amazon (features High-Resolution display, built-in light, wifi)

♦  Good old ordinary Kindle: $79 on Amazon (features wifi)  – I got this one! :) 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Raymond Carroll

Sunday 5th of March 2017

Great post. I like the feel of a book in my hand but I also have a kindle Fire. I like my kindle too but I wish I had just got the basic kindle and not the tablet/fire type as the charging does my head in when I am traveling. My best advice for reading and traveling is to buy a basic kindle that does not need to be charged often. Safe travels!


Tuesday 5th of May 2015

I really enjoyed reading this post. Used to love having the physical book, collecting all those books so I can sort and re-sort on my bookcase and see my accomplishment in what I have read. However, having sold everything I own to backpack for as long as I can around the world I have now switched to an e-reader and as a traveller I will never look back!!

Sammi Wanderlustin'

Monday 10th of November 2014

Nice post, I am all about the real book. I'm reading Game of Thrones at the moment which is 800 odd pages to read. It's fine once the first couple of hundred are down but it can be a pain, but the pages and the smell!

I *am* considering downloading the kindle app for my tablet whilst I'm travelling for a couple of months over the winter, but we'll see. I don't want to not read, but I'd rather have a book than a kindle ;)


Monday 10th of November 2014

I totally understand the pros of ebooks, but I still can't get over how much I love the feel of actually holding a book in my hand and the sense of accomplishment I get after finishing the book and putting it on my shelf. Having physical books also allows me to share with my friends who may or may not have an ereader. I may get a kindle or something similar eventually, but for now I am loving my paperback books :)

Jameela Deen

Saturday 8th of November 2014

I qualify as a bookworm, booknutter even (do you smell your new paper books too?) yet i now have a Kindle because i'm a serial expat without a home base and i just can't stand losing my book collection every time i move. So i have stopped buying books and for now i buy e-books. Not quite the same feeling but i got over it and actually enjoy my kindle now. However when we finally build our house in Tunisia, guess what will take most of the wall space in my bedroom?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.