Before Buying A Kindle, Consider The Physical Book’s Benefits

Before Buying A Kindle, Consider The Physical Book’s Benefits

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Amazon’s latest Kindle, the New Kindle Oasis, is definitely appealing. It’s got a bigger screen, waterproofing, and Bluetooth support for listening to audiobooks. But if you consider reading to be fundamental, you’re better off sticking to traditional paper books instead of pixelated pages.

Study after study show that reading on screens is, for various reasons, inferior to reading on paper. It’s something to consider before dropping your hard-earned scratch on a New Kindle Oasis — or any e-reader.

Analogue Books Boost Comprehension

The Kindle Unlimited service lets you read over a million titles for $13.99 per month, so there’s no shortage of easy beach reads to devour at any time. Whether or not you’ll remember them is another story. Reading on a Kindle, or on any screen, has been shown to have adverse effects on comprehension. Chalk it up to the lack of tactile feedback combined with the tendency for screen readers to consume the information more quickly than they do when reading on paper. While the Oasis might make it more convenient to enjoy a digital library book on the crowded subway or on an aeroplane, you probably shouldn’t put your college course’s reading list on there if you want to recall it later.

Taking Notes Works Better With Pens

When reading on a Kindle, you can highlight key points and leave your notes in the story, or see what other readers found profound through the Popular Highlights feature. But whatever insight you were hoping to extract and apply later on would be better recalled if you took the notes yourself, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Rather than using your digital highlighter or keyboard, using your hands and writing notes yourself boosts both factual and conceptual understanding of a topic.

Books Won’t Keep You Up

The Kindle Oasis’ LED lighting system is a step up from its previous version, boosting the LED count from 10 to 12 and including an ambient light sensor for automatic dimming. It’s perfect for reading in darker areas, or at night, when you should be asleep. Speaking of sleep, those LEDs helping you read in the middle of the night are also keeping you up. According to the Guardian, a Harvard Medical School study found participants reading on light-emitting e-readers took on average 10 minutes longer to fall asleep than participants reading books on paper. Your Kindle might be great for reading from dawn to dusk, but when it comes to literature before bed, stick to paper books and your trusty bedside lamp.


  • A further pro to consider: lending out a paperback to a friend is very easy. Lending an ebook is possible (if you have a drm-free version and dropbox, for instance). There’s theoretically an option to lend out kindle books, but I’m not sure it’s been made available in Australia. Significantly more of a pain in the neck, anyway.

    As for cons: trudging to the bookshop or library to select a new title, and then having to lug it about with you. Simply finding the book you wanted in the first place: bricks-and-mortar stores simply don’t have amazon’s vast catalogues, so if you want something not on the bestseller list you’d better be prepared to wait a few weeks to have it shipped in. Paying extra for the privilege of holding it in your hands (as if the value wasn’t inherent in the words). Getting it back to the library in time to avoid late fees, or worse- trying to eek out a little more space on your groaning shelves to store it once it has been read. Packing up boxes and boxes of novels every time you move. Deciding whether to keep all the titles you’ve read once and don’t intend to read again, or consign them to a second-hand shop or Vinnies bin.The horror of an accidentally cracked book spine.

    Nothing compares to book-smell or the tactile pleasure of turning a page, but at this point it’s like preferring vinyl records to mp3s. Speaking of, I ‘read’ by listening to audiobooks (hands and eyes free to be doing something else!), so make of that what you will.

  • I’ve got plenty of books sitting in a bookshelf, but theres one single thing that keeps me reading on my ipad instead. Volume. I’ve typically got 50-100 books stored on the ipad, meaning that when I’m out and about and reading one, I have something to go on to straight away. Then something else.

    Its that one single thing that drives me to read on a screen instead of a book. If I want to load up the entire catalog of Robert Heinlein for example, I can, and then read them in order.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t read a physical book, I do. More than one of my books is ratty and dog-eared thanks to how much I’ve read them over the years, but in general, its easier to digitally a) source, and b) carry a lot of books I’m interested in reading .

    • This is about Kindles not other ebook readers. The screen is totally different, it is designed for reading whereas tablets aren’t.

      • I know, but the same thing would apply. The sheer volume of stuff I’d have on hand would trump the benefits of physical books. Whether that’s an online service like the Kindle library, or iBooks, or even just text files from Gutenberg, its a lot of books in a small size. A benefit that doesn’t change whether its Kindle or iPad.

        For ME, the point was about that. Not notes, or blue light, or any of the other reasons, but the simple fact that you’re holding dozens or hundreds of books in something so relatively small. That’s something ereaders can do that physical books cant.

  • hey kids, heres something they dont tell you in the fine print. there is absolutely nothing stopping you from reading both physical books and ereader books, nothing at all!!

  • Taking ten minutes longer to fall asleep isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More time to read.
    I’d be more worried if they said it takes 10 minutes off of your total sleep time on average.
    I’d also wonder how they set up the study to account for whether or not what someone was interesting/stimulating vs the screen itself being the actual cause.

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