Sept. 11, 2017

E-books vs Physical Books

As part of my continual decluttering process, I have decided to switch mostly from reading physical books to e-books.

This is a big change for me because I try to read at least 20 books a year. I do this so that I can deepen my knowledge in a topic that I’m currently interested in (for example personal finance) or for entertainment. I truly believe reading is an investment.

One of my favourite past time activities was aimlessly browsing around a bookstore (mainly Kinokuniya in the city) and discover new books. Through this process, I bought many books which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and others which are currently gathering dust in my bookshelf despite vowing to read through them all when I have time.

As part of decluttering process, I decided to reduce the number of books that I have. And two months ago, I decided to purchase a Kindle. I already read 4 books on it.

But it’s important to note that ebook isn’t the solution to all problems. There are lots of pros and cons both with ebooks and physical books. So I’ve created a SWOT analysis of Ebooks vs Physical Books…



  • Very portable – can take thousands of books with you when you’re travelling
  • Perfect for novels where you’re only reading it once
  • Many free ebooks are available on the internet
  • Occupies no physical space (excluding the device itself and your laptop or whatever)
  • Pleasant reading experience (can focus)


  • Hard to “flick through” books to refer back to your notes (physical copy definitely wins here)
  • If the battery dies, then you can’t read
  • No physical memorabilia
  • Definitely feels like reading a screen, rather than a book
  • Not sure if anyone needs 1000s of books on their Kindle.


  • Libraries now lend ebooks


  • Reliance on proprietary e-book devices

Physical books


  • A lot easier to refer back to your notes – perfect for non-fiction self help books.
  • It’s nice to keep a physical copy that you love
  • Photobooks would suck as an e-book


  • Occupies physical space
  • Weighs a lot
  • Costs a lot of money to buy


  • You can borrow many books from libraries
  • You can lend physical books to your friends


  • That friend you have lent the book to may not bring it back
  • I buy lots of books and end up not reading them

My conclusion

  • For novels, I will read it on my Kindle.
  • For non-fiction books such as art books and self-help books which I will reference again and again, I will purchase a physical copy.

I’m not here to convince you to switch to e-books. But like anything, you should decide what works for you.

## The photo was taken in BooksActually bookstore in Singapore in the Tiong Bahru, a hipster neighbourhood.

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