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Electronic Book Readers vs. Paper and Ink

A Commissioned Piece Requested by Alexia at Sprouts in South Lake Tahoe
Summer 2011
By Thomas Becker   about me  



  1. Introduction
  2. The Kindle: Pros
  3. The Kindle: Cons
  4. Paper and Ink Books: Pros
  5. Paper and Ink Books: Cons
  6. Conclusion


The fact that I am an avid user of the Kindle book reader will, in the view of many, call into question my neutrality with regard to the task of listing and evaluating the pros and cons of the electronic vs. the traditional book format. Therefore, I will, before undertaking the task at hand, establish my credentials as a died-in-the-wool Luddite. Whenever I am faced with the decision whether or not to use new technology, especially the kind that pertains to communication, I think of something that I read many summers ago in Henry David Thoreau's “Walden”: “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

As an aside, I should mention that my recollection of the quote was far from being perfect. I used Google search to find the exact wording. If I owned “Walden” on my Kindle, I could have found the quote without Internet access. Moreover, I could have read the surrounding parts of the book, which I am quite sure would have been enlightening in one way or another. Oops, there goes my neutrality again. It is perhaps noteworthy, though, that the only quote that I have firmly memorized in its exact original form is also from Thoreau's “Walden”: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” But I digress. Or do I? Perhaps the person whose telephone is not intelligent enough to send money to some large corporation for the purpose of resurrecting an imaginary dead pig is rather happily listening to a different drummer.

Please Note:
Since I own the Amazon Kindle, I will, perhaps somewhat questionably, use the word ”Kindle” as a synonym for “electronic book reader.” Competition between different brands of book readers and purveyors of books in machine-readable format is not the issue here.