Why digital books are better than physical books

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. And in the last few years, I only read books on my phone, and I couldn’t be happier since making the switch. Here’s why:

  • I always have my phone with me, including the hundreds of books that are on it
  • I can change the font, text size, and background color of each book, because all my books are in EPUB format, which is a standardized format specifically designed for books, that’s compatible with any device.
  • I can search through books, so if I download, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 500-page autobiography, I could search for “sex” or “real estate” or “wife” and get straight to the juicy details that I’m looking for
  • My phone has a backlit display (with adjustable brightness), and since I sometimes read in a dark bedroom, I don’t need to shine a light onto the book
  • Because my phone is small and allows itself to be easily held with just one hand, I can hold it and read in all kinds of weird positions
  • If I ever lose my phone, or use a second phone, all my books magically re-appear, including my own highlights, bookmarks, and where I’ve left off, due to iCloud synchronization
  • I can download whole books in a few seconds, or read the preview (the first ~30 pages) for free
  • I can effortlessly copy and paste, or take screenshots of interesting paragraphs and share them with my friends in our group chat
  • I often google random things that I learned while reading, so using my phone, I can easily switch to the Safari app to chase a reference, spend a minute or two on Wikipedia, and then switch back to the book

Lastly, an observation: Whenever the question about physical vs digital books comes up, those who read physical copies are always the loudest. I’ve noticed this pattern on Twitter and elsewhere online. People who read physical books seem proud to own a paper copy and some even seem to derive a sense of status from it. They also keep repeating the same oneliners about touching the paper or being able to smell the book. I’m tired of seeing an inferior standard being romanticized. Humans have never been able to romanticize the present, for some reason, only the past, regardless of how bad things were. For me, I just care about the information and stories inside the book, and I want to consume it the best as I can. Everything else is cope to me. So here’s a small call to action: if you read books digitally, start telling your friends about the benefits of it. I think more people than ever will read more books than ever, if they knew how easy it was to do so. Thank you.

December 14, 2022

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