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Books vs E-books: Should you stick to the basics or move on with time

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Throughout studies, almost everyone turns to an ebook. For students who’ve spent their entire education drowning in books, this switch can be an unpredictable road.

While it is a matter mainly of personal preference, both types of ‘books’ have their advantages. People belonging to different fields and different streams have their preferences according to their own needs.

As a CS student who is usually glued to his laptop, studying for me unavoidably converts into a digital phenomenon. But does that mean that traditional books are out of place in the modern screen-oriented world?


Let’s talk about books first, the traditional ones. Each book requires a long cycle of being copywritten, then published then printed and then it is distributed all around the world. Now while advancements in technology have made things easier, a bunch of problems remain unsolved.

To begin with, where’s space? Generally, the more informative a book is, the more pages it has, which means the thicker it is, which eventually means more shelf space.

Now with hundreds of thousands of these books being published across the world, and a significant number of them going to students, where are you going to keep all of them?

Physical stores can only be so big and numerous. The bigger a store, the higher the operating cost and the greater the carbon footprint. That does not sound like a good thing to have keeping in mind the recent climatic conditions.

Then comes the cost factor. Printed books are generally quite expensive as they not only have to cover the printing cost, but also several overheads in addition to profit. For college students, who need books usually on a per semester basis, spending so much money for a book you’d only need for three months makes no sense.

This leads on to the next issue. Most college students end up buying duplicate copies of these books, which are generally available at a much lower price. As you can guess, this is piracy at its largest.

Not to mention all the environment stuff with the trees being cut down to provide paper for said books and stuff. There’s a lot to go on here.

On the bright side, the sheer convenience of having a physical book is unparalleled to any other thing. There’s also the fact that reading an E-book can be an eye-straining task unless you have a dedicated reading device like a Kindle or something.

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E-books solve almost every problem traditional books possess. They’re eco-friendly, don’t need space, I mean, you can store hundreds of them on a single microSD card, and they’re much cheaper than traditional books, not to mention readily available.

However, E-books face their own set of challenges. By far, the biggest one is the way you read them. You can read an E-book of basically any device with a screen. The thing is, displays on most devices aren’t very comfortable to look at for extended durations.

When you’re reading a book, you’re exposing your eyes to long term strain of going through the reading process on a screen which isn’t exactly the best thing to do. Now while smartphone screens (and laptops) are becoming better day and day, it still isn’t advisable to stare at your phone for long hours.

This can, of course, be solved by using a dedicated reading device like a Kindle or anything with an E-ink screen. However, those devices are initially a significant investment. Over a more extended period, they do justify their price tag as the books are significantly cheaper.

There’s also the widespread issue of piracy. For example, most of the books for my semester were readily available on the internet. Some websites even compile and collect E-books for specific courses.

I sometimes find E-books a bit of a hassle to read. The sheer convenience of making notes and marking relevant contents is a significant need in my case, and I can’t do that with E-books yet.

The conclusion

As I said earlier, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. E-books have come a long way since their inception, but they’re still far from replacing traditional books completely.

For people who are still in love with that fresh new book smell, they’ll continue buying physical books. To most people they’re more than just pages stuck together, they hold value.

For people who want just the information, E-books are a great option. They’re easy to navigate, cheap and readily available. They make perfect sense for the quick reference lookup person.

These are two different methods catering to two different types of people. What choice suits you entirely depends on the kind of person you are and your lifestyle.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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