E-Readers: are they worth it?

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You’ve probably heard a million things about the many e-readers on the market already; it seems everybody knows a Kindle-owner-turned-evangelist who’s just dying for everybody else to discover the benefits of their brand new gadget. Even high street bookstores like Waterstones now offer e-readers alongside hard copies. Is it really as good as they make out, though? To help you decide whether they’re worth buying, we’ve put together a guide to the pros and cons of owning an e-reader.


The release of the e-reader has been hugely beneficial to readers all over the world: schools in less-privileged areas have used them to allow pupils to read without mass-ordering books in bulk; and their portability means that more people than ever are putting down the smartphone and starting to read regularly. How do they benefit you personally, though? Well, if you’re a big reader you should already know the answer to that; it’s a commonly-cited fact that most e-readers can hold thousands of books in a device the size of a notepad. It’s ideal for commuters, as well as those who do a lot of travelling for business or pleasure. And if you don’t want to stare at a screen or you feel you’ll miss the “feel” of a real book, don’t worry; electronic ink readers have the same level of contrast as a printed page, with no backlight, and after the first few pages it will disappear into the background!

While the devices themselves are usually much more expensive than the price of one book – some can cost up to £200 – the books themselves are usually incredibly cheap. You may even find many classics for free, as they’re no longer under any kind of licensing law. Better yet, the privacy of them means you can finally buy the self-help books or nerdy fantasy novels you’ve always wanted to read in public but were too embarrassed to do so! With an e-reader you’ll have access to all of your books in one place – and if it ends up lost or stolen, they remain in the cloud to be transferred to a replacement device, so you’ll never lose your collection.


There are surprisingly few downsides to owning a kindle, but there are a few things to bear in mind. As previously mentioned, some people may feel that they prefer holding a real book. While the pleasure of having a hard copy in your hands is undeniable, it’s sometimes impractical. If you’re not sure, try borrowing a friend’s for the day, to see if you’ll be happy with it. It’s worth mentioning that different types of screen can really alter your reading experience – while tablets can be read anywhere, they can put far more strain on your eyes, while electronic e-readers mimic the effect of ink on paper without a backlit screen. This does however means you can’t read it in darker light (just like a real book!).

Another factor to consider is the cost. If you’re used to buying second-hand books, you may find it a little more expensive, as while books are cheaper than hard copies the newer releases may be quite pricey compared to second-hand prices. You may want to check out store prices before you buy an e-reader, and take a look at the many sites like Project Gutenberg offering legally free books.

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