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Audiobooks, eBooks or Physical Books? Which one do you prefer?

Audiobooks Vs eBooks Vs Physical Books? Which is the best?

As technology develops by leaps and bounds, people lead various choices of book formats, from old-school printed paper books to those free audiobooks and digital eBooks from your local library. In today’s stressful and busy world, people have their preferences for reading books.

Ebook is an electronic version of a traditional print book and can be read through digital devices such as computer screens or mobile phones.

Similarly, audiobooks are voice recordings of the book text you can listen to rather than read. Audiobooks are accessible on many websites or applications on your mobile devices, like LibriVox, Audible and Lit2Go, etc.

For most readers, it’s a glorious time. The choices of books are wider than at any time in history. You can read old-fashioned newspapers in a garden. You can listen to your favorite audiobooks with your hands-free on the crowded subway. And you can even read your eBooks on your tablet when you are on a plane.

In this article, we will discuss some of the pros and cons of these 3 different ways of reading, eBooks, audiobooks, and physical books. Hopefully, you can have comprehensive understanding of these 3 reading formats and choose the most suitable one or combine them to serve your certain reading situation.



Electronic books (eBooks) are also called digital books. An eBook is a non-editable, reflowable book, which is transformed into a digital format to be read on any digital device like laptops or phones.

Ebook was created in 1971, with the first steps of Project Gutenberg, a digital book library from the public domain. Till now, the ebook industry is nearly 51 years old. However, it’s a relatively short life compared to the 5-century old print book.

In 1997, digital publishing became mainstream for scientific, academic, and educational publications. This contributed to the cheaper cost compared with print books; therefore, online and traditional publishing became complementary. Many people still needed a printed version of archives in fear the electronic one would be deleted in an accident.

In 2003, eBooks started to be sold worldwide, which was a turning point for the ebook market. Increasingly more books were published in two versions, digital, and print. At the same time, most publishers were digitizing their books, while most users were getting used to reading eBooks on laptops, phones, or other reading devices.

In 2007, Amazon launched its reading device, Kindle. In the first place, a Kindle had a catalog of 80,000 eBooks - and new releases for the US $9,99 each. It had a screen using the E Ink technology and page-turning buttons. The built-in memory and 2G SD card gave plenty of book storage (1.4 G). Afterward, more and more readers migrated to digital devices instead of buying books in a store.

People’s opinions about reading with eBooks vary over time. Technology progress enables eBooks to have multi-features and functions with a gradually rising number of readers. Despite this, reading with an ebook also has pros and cons.

    Ebook Pros

  • Portability: for readers who travel frequently, eBooks are the obvious choice. The vital distinction should be that eBooks are much more portable lighter than printed ones. eBooks have a relatively small size and are highly compact in your pocket.
  • Accessibilities: easily altered text font size to suit your reading habits and environments; built-in dictionary to help you search your questions immediately; searchable text, notes taking, and highlighting contents as you like.
  • Cost: most eBooks are cheaper than physical books without shipping or manufacturing costs. You can sit at home and add your favorite books into your eBook reader by simply tapping on the screen with your finger.
  • Book Resources: you can buy eBooks from virtually anywhere on any eBook-supported device with the touch of a button and download them instantly. Some books might be hard to buy in bookstores, but you can easily find the electronic alternative via the internet.
  • Environmentally friendly: eBooks are good for saving trees, reducing carbon emission, reducing printing and there will be less pollution.

     Ebook Cons

  • Bad for Eyes: reading eBooks for a long time might cause eyestrain and poor eyesight. eBooks are hard on the eyes when we read from tablets, phones, or conventional computer screens.
  • Electricity Required:after fully charging, your eBooks may last for a few hours. But if it runs out of power and you forget to charge it, your dozens of book collections on your eBook readers will be useless.
  • No Deep Reading: eBooks are designed for speed with skimming, scrolling, and linking. eBooks have too many distractions, like notifications on your phones, making it more difficult for readers to engage in deep reading.

eBooks are perfect for people who don’t have specific time for reading, but still want to enjoy reading in their time segments. As eBooks are portable with a lightweight to be carried around to anyplace.

If you’ve never gotten into eBooks before, you may be wondering where to start. You can start by searching for some free eBooks online and buy yourself a suitable eBook reader such as Kindle. For example, one of the most popular eBooks is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, and you can get the Kindle edition readily on Amazon.

In addition, as for ebook readers, there are a wide range of choices. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Kids(11th generation) is recommended: it’s light and small, with a side-lit screen which enables you to read in dim lighting and adjustable color temperature that may be easier on your eyes.In this case, you have no worries taking your favorite book reading light with you to any dark places.



We can define an audiobook as a sound recording of a book performed by a professional narrator (often an actor) or the author. It can also be recorded by a synthetic or amateur voice.

Initially, the original purpose of audiobooks was to help people with reading disabilities, such as the blind or young kids. However, with social development, people's reading needs are altering as well; this resulted in the change of audiobooks' contents.

Audiobooks are rapidly gaining popularity with widely accessible digital downloading and streaming services. The other dominant reason is that some readers are occupied with work and life trifles; there is no time left for reading. Audiobooks alleviate this concern to some extent because people can listen to audiobooks when commuting or doing housework.

As it's convenient and user-friendly reading access, audiobooks effectively help some readers to meet their reading needs in a fragmented time. But there are also some potential problems exposed to us.


    Audiobook Pros

  • Portability: similar to eBooks, audiobooks are also portable and convenient to be carried around
  • Hands-free: with audiobooks, you can be a multitasker, which means you listen to audiobooks while washing dishes, commuting, or jogging.
  • Accessibilities: the audiobook can be seen as a powerful and helpful tool for those with reading difficulties. Moreover, people with physical disabilities can also benefit from audiobooks, preventing them from holding a book.

    Audiobook Cons

  • Less Engaging:You can’t take notes in the margins or highlight texts with audiobooks and conveniently reread your favorite page.
  • Forget how to read: when you get used to listening to audiobooks, you may unlearn how to read. Because reading printed books and eBooks require specific reading skills, the inveterate audiobook readers may find it difficult to read printed ones. Audiobooks cognitively reduce your reading competence.
  • Miss textual details: apart from fiction, audiobooks are not suitable for nonfiction works, which have a lot of figures, photos, illustrations, and footnotes.

We all recognize the importance of audiobooks for disabled people, and it seems that they are most gaining in popularity among very active people who listen to audiobooks during work, commute, sports, or chores. For example, audiobooks are the obvious choice for people who have long commuting by bus or car because they are allowed to be hands-free.

If you are a newcomer to audiobooks, you can start your trip by listening to some free audiobooks on applications such as LibriVox, Audible and Lit2Go, etc.


Physical Books

When eBooks appeared on the commercial market in the 1990s for the first time, most experts in the information technology industry predicted that physical books would turn obsolete. During the past decades, the rising in eBooks sales and readership poses a general question: are eBooks positioned to replace print books?

Increasingly more and more readers believe that eBooks and physical books are complementary reading formats. Compared with physical books, eBooks are more suitable and portable for people to consume information in the fast-growing society.

Although it may be a little harder to find a brick-and-mortar bookstore in your neighborhood these days, the consumer experience of reading is no longer limited to hardcovers and paperbacks.

There are still some readers sticking to the traditional way of reading. Here are some of their comments: “There’s something about curling up with a good book in one’s hands that can’t be beaten,” “I spend enough time on computers at work, need a break,” or “I like the feel of the pages.”

Physical books are now very much alive due to some of their irreplaceable characteristics. They possess a history of 5 centuries; even now, physical books are still what most of us think of when we hear the word "book". Nostalgia and comfort seem to be the fundamental reasons for keeping physical books alive.

    Physical Books Pros

  • More information absorbed: with the virtue of the waxing and waning pages on either side of the book, you’ll be able to see and feel how much progress you’ve made in the book. This can help readers feel like they’re unfolding the story figuratively and literally.
  • More concentrated: reading print books help you to be more concentrated on task performance because you will be less sidetracked and can have a deep reading with physical books.
  • Eye Protection: unlike eBooks, physical books require no electricity and electronic screens, keeping you away from electron radiation and protecting your eyes. Most readers prefer reading with their favorite book reading lights in diverse lighting effects.
  • Sleep Better: our life is full of electronic products in this digitizing society, so if you read eBooks before bed, the blue light from your screen will disorder your melatonin levels and circadian cycles. Then you will find it very hard to fall asleep, and you’ll feel groggier when you wake up. So,reading print books with an amber book light can stimulate your body to produce more melatonin naturally and sleep better.
  • Emotional Connection: physical books enable readers to have a physical person-to-object relation, which lends more “realness” to the books. Reading print books can have a stronger emotional connection with the characters and stories in the book.

    Physical Book Cons

  • Bad for Environment: the paper industry is posing a considerable threat to our planet because the raw material for print books are mainly trees and herb plants. It produces countless pollution to the ecological environment, rivers, and groundwater.
  • Storage & Safety: paper books need a safe and stable environment to be stored. For long-term preservation, readers should consider insect prevention, moisture-proof, anti-aging, and other factors when they want to keep their physical books.
  • Information Retrieval: physical books have a more traditional retrieval method. In some libraries, especially for books without a bibliographic index, people can only rely on the operation of the manual eyes and hands. It will bring great difficulties for the retrieval work.

Compared with cold electronic screens and synthetic voice, physical books allow readers to create their ideal reading environment and feel or imagine the story scenarios with the help of some external fittings—for instance, a suitable and versatile book reading light.

It is of vital importance to choose your best book light based on a wide range of features and functions. Specifically, you should consider the brightness levels and color temperatures. (For more detail, check our blog post about How to Choose Book Light Based on Brightness Level and Color Temperature.)

Take clip on reading light as an example. For those book lovers, who love how do physical books feel in their hands, they would choose to lie on their favorite cushions on a rainy afternoon; with a mug of hot tea and a clip on book light clipped on the couch; the fantastic lighting effects will help you immerse yourself in the book world. Undoubtedly, reading a paper book with a suitable book lamp amplifies your joy of reading.

It’s sure that in every reader’s house, there are different kinds of book reading lights with various features and functions to meet their reading needs.

Most insatiable readers love to display what they’ve read, which is about signaling to the rest of the world; it’s about decorating a home; it’s about collecting one’s favorites. In today’s digital revolution, some people seek a way to escape the screens. The physical book is one of the most efficient cures. Meanwhile, some readers find it’s difficult to have an emotional relationship with what they’re reading if it’s on an e-reader.

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Opinions are divided about whether digital books are superior to print ones. So which types of reading formats do you prefer? eBooks, audiobooks, or physical books?

Considering novels are mainly about unexpected storylines, knowledge-based books will be more impressive through reading print books. For example, some advice that readers can listen to novels on audiobook applications like Audible; knowledge-based or productivity-related books are recommended to read in physical books. In addition, if you want a deep reading (e.g., higher critical analysis for hours at a time), you should do it with physical books. Because deep reading doesn’t work with social media, eBooks, or almost anything online, according to Nicholas Carr’s bestseller The Shallows (2011).

People always need knowledge and stories, so it doesn’t matter which kind of books you choose. One format isn’t “better” than the others; different book formats have their own characteristics and differ from person to person on which one to use. You can choose the most suitable reading formats based on your lifestyle or preference, depending on which reading format serves a particular situation.

As a final point, there are two questions for you to consider: What’s the future of reading? Will digital books replace physical books entirely in the future?

Hope this article will help you better understand 3 kinds of reading formats and their pros and cons. If you have any questions, please leave your comment below or feel free to contact us at

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