Paper book vs e-book vs audio book : which is better and why

I am an avid book reader. There has never been a point in my life that there has not been a book around me. I mean, even when I doing number 2, there has to be a book near me. So, with the advent of e-book readers and audio books, one would say, I have reached my book heaven.

Er, actually, no. I am more confused than ever! What format should I adopt, completely? Should I stick with the paper version, should I buy a hardware (Kindle, Kobe etc.) or should I follow audio books more avidly?

Therefore, to answer my questions, I have chosen 5 criteria to gauge the desirability of one format over the other.

1. Read-ability

What I mean by this criteria is the ease with which I can read (or hear) a format. In that regard paper wins hands down. I mean there is no way the e-book readers can compare with the fonts and the paper background that a paper book. I have looked at both and I can conclusively say that ebook readers suck as far this criteria is concerned.

And what about audio books? Well, this where the audio book scores very high except in one scenario (I will come to it soon).

The biggest feature of an audio book is it’s ability to fill in free time. By that I mean when you go out running and you are not in the mood for music. Spend time listening to a book (other formats fail here). When you are waiting in doctor’s waiting room, listen to a book (in case you forgot to bring other formats). And so and so forth.

Audio books have an ease of reading that is unparalleled but they feel miserable miserably in one aspect. Night time reading. One of my most pleasurable moments of the entire day is night time reading. The evenings I am not able to read at night, I just feel the day has not ended on a high note. In that regard, audio books fail completely. I have tried and I cannot get used to the idea of listening to a book before going to sleep at night (which is strange because I use the drone of an audio book to put me to sleep on the GO train).

So, I will stick to a paper book as the choice under this criteria.

Paper Book = 3; E book = 1 ; Audio Book = 2

2. Browse-ability

One of my projects in my life is collecting books. And I don’t mean first editions or rare editions. Since I read 2 – 3 books at a time, one of the books I read is usually a repeat. I love to sit and browse through my collection trying to figure out which book to read.

Therefore, in that regard, a paper book wins again. I sometimes sit in front of my bookshelf for 20 to 30 minutes just browsing books – opening a book I have read before and just reading a page randomly trying to decide if this is the book I should read. That’s just not possible with ebook (ok maybe just a little bit) and definitely not with audio books.

Paper Book = 2; E book = 1 ; Audio Book = 0

3. Durability

Of course if I have a bookshelf and I like to browse, the books have to have durability. I don’t want to open a book after a few years and find out that the book is now junk because of a little moisture. Sadly, paper books fail in that sense.

Paper Book = 0; E book = 2 ; Audio Book = 2

That is not to say that if you take care of your books, they will still be destroyed. But the chances that I may drop a book in a puddle of water or leave the book on a plane are high. However, if I do the same with ebook reader or an MP3 player, I still have the book. Just not the hardware which I can easily buy again.

4. Environment friendly

Sadly paper books fail miserably, again. There is no easier way to say this……. Books kill trees and have a detrimental affect on the environment. That’s not to say that other formats have no impact at all. I mean, the ebook reader and an MP3 player have a huge carbon footprint when compared to a book. The thing is that you buy a hardware once and use it for many years practically negating the initial affect.

As an environment conscience guy, this is one of main reasons why I want to stop buying books and convert to the other two formats.

Paper Book = 0; E book = 2 ; Audio Book = 2

5. Second hand-ability

One of the main ways I purchase books are at the hand me downs shops tucked away in the various corners of a city. It gives me so much satisfaction to
roam around a bookstore and find a used book a second home in my life at a heavily discounted price. And this feature does not exist in the other formats. You pay for a book whatever the list price is at the back cover.
Unless there is a deal going on, the price never changes.

Unfortunately, this is kind of a deal breaker for me. My library consists mostly of used and discarded books and, on a rare occasion, a new book. I
look at my books as friends I have known for a long time. My copy of Starship Troopers (bought at $3/-) has been read and re-read numerous times. I can start the book at any page and immerse myself in it
completely. The same goes for Moby Dick. Or Brave New World.

This criteria alone tops every other criteria listed and is the sole reason why I continue to purchase paper books rather than other formats. Unless a dazzling new way of reading comes up, I am afraid I will be sticking to paper books and a few free books on other platforms.

Paper Book = 3; E book = 0 ; Audio Book = 0

Total Score :

Paper Book = 8;
E Book = 4
Audio Book = 6;