Print vs. Kindle

One book lover’s thoughts after 18 months with a Kindle

As a book lover, I spent months agonising over whether or not to buy a Kindle. What finally tipped me over the edge was the desire to be able to read easily in bed (it lights up!), on the tube (it leaves one hand free to hold on to the pole!), while travelling (one plastic slab, many books!), and the fact that my parents wanted to buy me something useful for Christmas (a Kindle totally fit the bill because while it’s an indulgence that I probably wouldn’t treat myself to, it’s something that I would definitely use and love).

Having had it for eighteen months, I’ve settled into a routine of sorts in terms of whether I choose to buy a new book on my Kindle or whether I pick up the print edition. At a guess, I reckon I now read fifty percent of books on my Kindle — and, as many people said I would when I was deliberating over getting one, I’ve totally fallen in love with it. Some people say that the Kindle screen isn’t kind on the eyes but if anything, I’ve found the opposite to be true; I can read it for hours with none of the fatigue I get from staring at my computer or phone. It’s also great for highlighting passages and making notes, and then being able to find those sections with ease — despite ease of highlighting and referencing being a reason people cite for not buying a Kindle.

I’m sharing my thinking in case you’re on the fence about buying a Kindle, or deliberating over the whole Kindle conundrum. So, FWIW, here’s one book lover’s not hard-and-fast rationale for buying the print version of a book vs. the Kindle version.

I buy the print version if the book is:

  • beautifully designed (Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free — Cory Doctorow)
  • something I might want to reference in the future, usually non-fiction (On Writing — Stephen King)
  • something I know I’ll want to share with friends when I’m finished (Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert)
  • something I’ve discovered at a book shop / fair, and would feel bad buying online (Pure — Rose Bretécher)
  • old, and thus available for cheap on Amazon used and new (Black Coffee Blues — Henry Rollins)

I buy the Kindle version if the book is:

  • way cheaper on Kindle, due to some kind of special offer (A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara)
  • something I want to read immediately(How to Be Here — Rob Bell)
  • fiction, where I’ll probably only read it once and not refer back to it (Carrying Albert Home — Homer Hickam)
  • a combination of the above

At the risk of sounding like a total cheeseball, I’d welcome your comments on the whole print vs. Kindle debate. Some days I wonder if I’ll look back at ‘the Kindle years’ and regret every purchase. So, what do you do? Leave a comment here or find me on Twitter: @lukeleighfield.

You can also see my 2016 reading log on Instagram and Tumblr, or follow me on Goodreads.