Battle of the books: E-readers vs. print

Custom Excerpt
Illustration by Sadie Favour

Picture this: you’re cozied up in your bed reading. One small light casts a warm glow on you. Your book is getting really good. Maybe the girl just met the guy, the detective found another clue or a character just discovered their powers. Whatever it is, it’s good. Your eyes fly over the words quickly with excitement when suddenly your Kindle dies. “No!” you groan. E-readers can die. Print books can’t.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, libraries have closed their doors across the nation. My public library began offering e-books as an accessible alternative while they weren’t loaning any print books out. I begrudgingly pulled out my old Kindle, at least grateful that there was still a way for me to get books. While there are some benefits to reading on an e-reader due to its small size, I find print books to be far superior.

I love having a stack of books by my bed. I like the different colors, shapes and textures of each of them. When I read on a Kindle, everything is the same. I don’t get to experience the uniqueness of each book and its fonts and the quality of its pages. My Kindle doesn’t have page numbers, only a little line at the bottom of the screen that tells me the percentage of my progress so far. I like getting to use a bookmark to see how much I’ve read. I also appreciate the ease in which I can flip back and forth between some of my favorite parts of a print book.

Midway through the summer, my library offered an option to place holds on print books and then pick them up in person. The familiar weight of a few books in my tote bag was a welcome feeling. I found I read more when I was able to access physical books again. Since I was spending so much of my day on various screens, it was so nice to unplug and just read.

While e-readers are a good option during a pandemic, they are a temporary fix. Print books are timeless. They can be personalized with annotations and shared amongst friends and family. As an ultimate power, print books can’t die. They won’t leave me hanging while I anxiously wait for my device to charge.

Zoë Miller ’23 is from

Iowa City, Iowa.

Her majors are English and