Printed books, e-books or audiobooks?

This blog post goes through the pros and cons of printed, e- and audiobooks. While people are different and some religiously stick to printed books, others rarely read from anything else than their e-reader. And then there’s the group that never sits or lies down to read but always does something else while listening to audiobooks. Many people use more than one of these ways of reading, while some use all three.

Printed books

+ The plus of printed books is the feeling of a real book in your hands, the possibility to turn pages, the smell of the book and the ability to annotate. You can also save your favourite books at home and look at them whenever you feel like it.

It’s easy enough to take printed books around, but once you finish one, you’re out of reading material (unless you brought more than one book). They can be pricey, especially hardcovers.

* I love printed books, especially when it comes to books that I really like: I have to own them, keep them on my bookshelf and be able to look at them, touch them, and go through them again. I usually choose paperbacks because they’re cheaper, but if I really love a book, I buy a hardcover (I bought a hardcover version of Wuthering Heights after listening to the audiobook and reading it on Kindle).


+ On an e-reader, it’s easy to access many books in many languages from anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes. Once you buy an e-reader, the books there are cheaper than printed editions. There are many ways to get them, legal and less legal. On my Kindle Paperwhite, I can buy them directly through it (with an internet connection) or transfer a PDF from my computer to the kindle. You can take an e-reader anywhere and have access to almost any book out there. The books stay on your e-reader once you finish them (until you delete them).

You can’t physically turn the pages, smell or hold an individual book in your hands. You can’t have specific books on your bookshelf.

* I bought my Kindle in 2016, and since then, I’ve had periods when I read it constantly and periods when I didn’t touch it at all. Right now, I’m trying to get through the printed books that I’ve accumulated throughout the years.


+ The biggest plus is definitely the fact that you can listen to them while doing something else: sport, cooking, cleaning … anything that doesn’t require much thinking, really. By doing that, you save time; you’ve just gone for a run and read for 45 minutes as well!

Listening is not the same as reading, and while I think it can sometimes be better (when the readers are also amazing actors), it still lacks something. Seeing the words and sentences and reading them for yourself is different; it has the essence of a book that gets lost in an audiobook.

* I listen to audiobooks all the time, and they’re the main reason why I read as much as I do (I get through them more quickly). This is simply because I do sport (or at least take a walk) and cook every day, and this can amount to a couple of hours of listening almost every day (unless I opt for a YouTube video, a podcast or sometimes even a TV series – while I cook). I do read printed books every day too but normally just before going to bed, sometimes for just ten minutes, sometimes for an hour. I can finish a good audiobook in a few days, while a good printed (or e-book) can still take more than a week. The reason for this is that I have a busy day-to-day life, like you probably do. Still, some people are great at taking the time to read for a few hours at a time, at least for the weekend. For now, I’m not, and audiobooks really are a lifesaver.

Try it out: all of it

If you’d like to read more, I suggest you try out all of these and see what you like best and what works for you. I usually buy my printed books at airports and in various bookshops. I also get them as birthday or Christmas presents. As already said, I use a Kindle for e-books (which I find on Amazon and other platforms). I get my audiobooks on Audible, where I pay a 10-euro monthly subscription, which gets me one free book of choice per month. There are also other free books on there, available with the subscription (you can read as many as you want, but the choice is limited). If you want more books that aren’t free with the subscription, you have to buy them (they’re usually ten euros each, which is one credit). There are also other options, such as Scribd, Google Play Books (many free books), Kobo, Audiobooks, etc.

What’s your favourite way to read books? Where do you listen to audiobooks? Tell me in the comments!

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