Paperbook versus e-book

Much has been said and written about how reading from paper relates to reading from a screen. Various studies have been done about when you remember the most or what simply reads the best. Ultimately, however, it mainly comes down to a personal preference. With paper books, the advantage is that the layout is completely tailored to the intended reader: from the use of headings, white text, font size and font used to the layout of individual pages with images, illustrations, tables and graphs. With e-books that is usually not fixed and you can (must) determine the line spacing, font size and font used. An advantage for one, a disadvantage for the other.

Paper books are better for your health than e-books. E-books are better for the environment, but there are also alternatives to paper books made from more environmentally-friendly material. It is time for books to be made solely from recycled paper or from elephant shit.

Anyone who sits behind a screen for 8 hours in the office will be confronted with a screen fatigue. You need to pinch your eyes from time to time to focus better on the text. At the end of the day, your eyes feel like saucers and your brain is exhausted. The same goes for an entire Sunday of Instagramming from your bed. Staring at an illuminated screen is apparently tiring for your brain and eyes. And that is scientifically proven.

This is the conclusion of a study by the University of Karlstad and the University of Gothenburg. The test subjects were instructed to read from a book before bedtime. A few of them received the printed version and the others received the e-book version. The test subjects who read the text from the screen experienced a higher degree of fatigue and stress. According to the researchers, this is because reading from a screen entails a higher cognitive workload. You are in fact busy with the assignment and with the device.

Who doesn’t read before bedtime? The moment to just disappear into another world or to clear your head. Now you’ve probably heard that you can’t check your social media accounts, WhatsApp or your favorite series an hour before bedtime and at night. The bright light from LED screens sends an ‘it is-still-no-bedtime’ signal to your brain, which slows down the production of melatonin – the substance that makes you sleepy.


Cheaper than a printed book

On average, e-books are a lot cheaper than paper books and offers are regularly available. On the other hand you have to invest in a good e-reader. It is just how many books you read.

Readable digitally on an e-reader, tablet, smartphone and computer

The fact that you can – usually – read e-books on multiple devices without problems has its advantages. If you travel a lot with you can read almost everywhere with e-books. You can read on your phone, tablet and on your e-reader, depending on where you are, while it is easier for you to pick up a paper book at home that you can’t take everywhere. You will probably read more than ever before thanks to digital reading on the train, in bed and on the couch.

Does not take up physical space

Hundreds, if not thousands of e-books, will fit on your e-reader and you can take your entire collection with you without any problems. On the other hand, you might have the feeling that you are less attached to a book that you have enjoyed reading because it is “only” a digital file. But if you really have a lot of books then it becomes difficult to put them all in bookcases. Paper books take up a lot of space, collect an incredible amount of dust (and bugs). It is not good for the environment if you only leave it in your bookcase, it is better to sell it or give it away once you’ve finished reading it.


You increasingly see fellow travelers in public transport with an e-reader. If you secretly like to see what others are reading, then that is no longer that easy. Previously it was child’s play to read the title on the cover. This also makes it easy for yourself to read a slightly less good book once in a while. #Guiltypleasure


Reads nicer

You can dive into a paper book. You have to hold a little book with both hands while reading and you are really working on something. The disadvantage is that reading does more work and is a lot harder to do if you only have one hand at your disposal. That is a lot easier with an e-reader because it weighs less and is usually great to use with one hand.

No need to charge

In a paper book you can immediately start reading without having to check whether your e-reader still has enough battery charge to read the book. On the other hand, it is much easier to purchase an e-book via the internet (and to start reading immediately) since a paper book must first be delivered or picked up.

Beautiful color photos on paper

In an e-book you often miss the beautiful illustrations that are in a paper version. Or they can be found in an e-book, but will never come across as the illustrations in the book that you hold.

Possibly second-hand to resell or as a gift

If you like to give a book to others as a gift and although that is super easy to do with e-books, it doesn’t work in practice. “Here, a usb stick with an e-book on it!” or “I have e-mailed you your present, it is in the attachments” does not give the warm feeling of receiving a gist. No, you will still have to go to the (online) bookstore for that.

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