Home > Enjoying Life > The Great E-Reader VS Library Debate

The Great E-Reader VS Library Debate


Because you’re reading this post, I can tell you like reading.  Whether it’s learning new skills, entertaining yourself, or just getting by in the world, anyone interested in improving their finances is going to end up doing quite a bit of reading.  But should you use old-fashioned books from the library, or buy an e-reader?  After trying out both for a while, I’ve got an answer for you, so stay tuned!

So before I compare library books and an e-reader, I need to make one disclaimer.  Although I love buying actual books, it makes no financial sense when you are in financial discovery mode.  You can get the same information from books at the library for 100% less!

Both E-Readers and Libraries are awesome inventions.  E-reader’s and tablets are way-fun and have essentially become awesome, high-tech books.  Libraries rank third on the list of humanities greatest inventions, right behind bicycles and agriculture.

E-Reader Pros

  •  Instant access to all books: This is a big plus.  You can access almost every book ever written in the history of the world within a few seconds.  During my  e-reader trial phase, I loved this feature.  I never had to wait for the newest titles, and I could read whatever my friends were reading on a whim.  This is an awesome business model for Amazon since people don’t feel bad splurging on educational stuff like books.
  • Sharing over multiple devices: This was a feature I didn’t initially find appealing, but it’s actually pretty neat.  You can read a book up to page 37 on your Kindle.  Then, later that day when you only have your smartphone on you, the book has magically been opened to page 37.  I really appreciate seamless integration of technology.
  • Your E-Reader is always the same weight:  This can actually become a big problem when you want to read 700 page intense investing volumes.  On the E-Reader, since everything is stored digitally, it’s way easier to haul that enormous volume around with you.

Library Pros (pun intended)

  • It’s Free: This is the trump card for libraries.  It’s unbelievably lucky that these institutions exist at no cost to citizens (except for taxes of course).  Even just buying two books a month for an e-reader would probably cost you about $250!  That’s a huge, unnecessary expense that you can avoid by using libraries.
  • Librarians are smart:  Although most people don’t take advantage of most libraries greatest assets.  If you want to learn a new skill or do a little research librarians are happy to help you find the right books, for free.  There are some online equivalents of this, but they don’t really match up to the experience of an actual librarian.
  • The Environment: It is way more environmentally sensitive to go grab a library book that already exists than power up an your e-reader.  Saving the earth is certainly a worth cause.

My Decision

About a year ago, I switched from buying e-books to exclusively library books.

I’d go back to my e-reader if the library ever did decide to invest in e-books and actually figure it out*…  but so long as e-books aren’t available, I’ll stay a library book kind of guy.  It seems a little old fashioned, but you can’t argue with free.

A lot of times I’ll head to library, look through 20 books (mostly non-fiction so I can learn new stuff), and choose 5 of them.  I only actually get through about 2 of the 5, but you can see that this would be an issue if I purchased e-books.  Once you hit “buy”, there’s no going back.

Learning all these powerful financial skills for FREE has made a difference in my life.  It’s allowed me to expand my net worth at unprecedented levels.  This was all possible because of our local public library!

I will be a physical library patron for the foreseeable future.  What about you?


*I wish the library had a good e-book lending system, but at the moment, it barely functions.  You technically can borrow e-books from the library, but it’s so difficult that it’s not worth doing (As of Dec 2012).

Categories: Enjoying Life Tags: ,
  1. December 27, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I am currently making the switch to e reading myself. I really like how portable and light weight it is. I do a lot of traveling so minimizing weight is good.

  2. December 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Thanks for the comment. Yea, the e-reader is great for traveling, especially if you enjoy hefty novels. As long as you know what you like to read, it’s certainly a smart choice. I end up borrowing so many library books that I never end up reading. I could see buying e-books only from the authors I already know I like.

  3. December 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    The Seattle Library (where I’m at) has a pretty great e-book system so I’ve been downloading a ton of books to my Kindle from there. Otherwise, paying full price for an ebook seems crazy to me. You can get discounted and free ones through the lending library on Amazon Prime, but FREE wins all the time! 🙂

  4. December 28, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Wow, the Seattle Public Library sounds progressive. The Chicago Public Library system is trying, but it doesn’t function very well. There are only a few books available at a time, and sometimes the e-copies are check out (how does that work?). That gives me hope that the west coast has already figured this out!
    Thanks for the tip about Amazon Prime, I’ll have to look into it.

  5. December 31, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    We got our first eReader a few months ago and have yet to pay for a book. We get some from the library and my husband occasionally looks for free ones to download. He got a gift card for Christmas to Amazon for ebooks so he might pay for a few he really wants. I still prefer the large selection of physical books at our library. I used to buy books all the time but stopped several years ago and now only buy the very occasional book that I would like to reread many times or lend. I’m not sure how that rule will translate to eReader books as they are so much cheaper and more arduous to lend.

    • December 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Being able to lend actual books is certainly a nice feature. I was able to do it once with my Kindle Account, but it doesn’t have the feel of handing someone a book that means a lot to you.

  1. January 18, 2013 at 6:34 PM

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