The Pros & Cons of eReaders

Ever since eReaders debuted in 2007, critics have debated their significance in the publishing world. Do they represent the extinction of traditional publishing? Or the dawn of a new era of more convenient, accessible reading? However you look at it, eReaders have sparked a new way of reading.

Still on the fence about whether or not an eReader is right for you? Here is an in-depth list of pros and cons that might help you decide.

Pros of an eReader

1. It’s eco-friendly. No paper = less toll on the environment. No physical books also means that the lifetime carbon footprint of your “library” is drastically lessened. (eBooks don’t need to be physically shipped to you!)

2. You can download books almost instantly, from almost anywhere. Heard of a new book you’re dying to read? With one click of a button, it’s yours. Talk about instant gratification!

3. eBooks are often cheaper than print books. Because the publisher is able to take out the overhead expenses of printing, storing, and shipping the books, the prices of eBooks are often much lower than print books.

4. It saves space. Do your bookshelves runneth over? eReaders come in a variety of sizes, with the smallest having a 5-inch screen, measured diagonally (for comparison, an iPad has an 9.7-inch screen). This website compares eReaders by size.

5. It’s much easier to travel with. If you travel (and read) a lot, an eReader might be a smart investment. This also makes it a good option for students who need to get a lot of reading done on the go.

6. You can download more than eBooks. Most eReaders also let you download newspapers, magazines, and even audio books to your device. Many newspapers offer eReader subscriptions, letting you flip through the pages of today’s New York Times without the fuss of spilling coffee on the crossword puzzle.

7. You can change the text size. Having trouble reading the fine print? eReaders allow you to change the font size at will, making reading more enjoyable for those of us with less than 20/20 vision.

8. You can find out-of-print books more easily. Books that are out-of-print gain new life in the eBook world, which is fantastic for bibliophiles who have been searching for a copy of a book no longer being published.

9. It allows you to search for text and look up words. This is particularly useful for students, or for anyone who wants to find a particular word or phrase in a book, or someone who reads with a dictionary next to them.

10. More independent authors and publishers are able to get their books out there. This has leveled the publishing playing field a bit, as some of the past few years’ hit novels started out as humble eBooks. (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?)

Cons of an eReader

1. It’s expensive. Although the price of an eReader has come down considerably over the years, the cheapest eReaders on the market are still $100 or more—and that’s not including a cover, which you’ll need to prevent scratches.

2. It’s electronic. This means that your eReader needs something that traditional books don’t: regular battery charging. And, unlike your favorite paperback, if you drop an eReader, it might break.

3. It doesn’t have the same physical presence as a traditional book. Who wants a house with no books on the shelves? It may be the diehard paper lover in me, but when I think of a cozy home, I think of shelves packed with well-loved books.

4. You can’t flip through the pages. Sometimes I like to flip through a book I’ve read to remind myself of the main points, or to find a passage that I particularly like. While eBooks let you search for words, they only let you flip page-by-page, or chapter-by-chapter, so you lose part of the “flip” appeal of a traditional book.

5. It just doesn’t have the same feel as a traditional book. There is something to be said for paper books. The smell of ink, the feel of the pages, the excitement of getting closer and closer to that last page. eBooks will never be able to replace that!

6. It’s not great for gift-giving. Sure, you can give someone an eReader as a gift. But what if you just want to get them the latest bestseller that you know they’ll love? You probably wouldn’t want to give them an eBook.

7. Not all titles are available in eBook form. Keep this in mind when you have a specific book in mind, and suddenly can’t find it through the library or in the eBook store!

8. Speaking of stores…eBooks are a threat to booksellers. The ease and availability of eBooks has (in part) led to a decline in bookstores, since consumers have stopped visiting their local booksellers to find titles they want.

9. Some books just don’t work as eBooks. Anatomy textbooks without images? Children’s books without the color illustrations? Depending on your eReader device, some books just don’t translate to electronic form that well.

10. It can’t be autographed by the author. In fact, eBooks are completely divorced from the author’s social context—there will never be a “first edition eBook” that will become a collector’s item. If this matters to you, you’re officially a bibliophile. Go pick up the latest hardcover and check out that author signing, stat!

Still not sure if an eReader is right for you? The Poudre River Public Library District has 60 Nook Simple Touch eReaders and 30 Nook Color eReaders available for loan! Click here to reserve one today and try it out for yourself.

By Molly McCowan.

Molly is a professional writer and editor living in Old Town, Fort Collins. When she’s not working with words, she can’t wait to get to the nearest river and cast the perfect fly for a hungry trout, accompanied by her Shetland Sheepdog, Misty. Contact her at