The Missing Shelf: How E-readers Changed the Home Library

by Guest Post

When e-readers and tablets first hit the market they brought a storm of controversy with them. Some people were certain Amazon’s Kindle would completely replace traditional print books while others thought they were simply a fad that would pass in time. Though neither of those extremes came to pass, e-readers have made an impact. Not only have they affected the world of book publishing and sales, they’ve also impacted people’s reading habits.

E-readers have changed how, when, where and what we read. The way we share, lend and borrow books has changed. They’ve changed the way we encourage our children to spend more time reading. They’ve even changed the look of some of our homes. E-readers seem to be a mixed blessing, and sometimes it can be a bit tricky to decide whether a certain change is good or not.

Portability Lets You Travel Light

Convenience is probably the biggest advantage of e-readers. As you surely know, traveling can be problematic for book lovers. There are so many wonderful books to read, and traveling is the perfect time to do so. But books are heavy and take up a lot of space. You’ve probably found yourself trying to squeeze a huge pile of books into your suitcase while forgetting to pack half your clothes. Maybe your suitcase feels as if it’s filled with lead because it’s full of books. This is where e-readers are very handy. They allow you to take numerous e-books on your travels without any inconvenience. E-readers also allow you to have instant access to any of your books wherever you are.

Free Books Mean Greater Accessibility

Another advantage of e-readers is they give you access to free books. Countless wonderful books are old enough to have passed into the public domain. This means people don’t have to pay for them. This is still a problem with print books, as they cost money to manufacture. With an e-reader, you can access most of these free books from websites such as the Gutenberg Project. A downside of this is some of the websites that offer free books may not be trustworthy. So if you’re downloading books from a website that isn’t well-known, it’s important to use a reliable VPN to protect your e-reader or tablet from viruses or malware.

Technology Encourages Children to Read

E-readers have another major advantage over print books: many children love them. Reading is undoubtedly good for children. It improves their performance at school and enhances their imagination. It’s a safe hobby to keep them busy. Some parents are fortunate enough to have children who love to read, but others struggle to get their children to read anything at all. Luckily, e-readers have proven to be a great way to encourage children to read more, most likely because children usually enjoy novelty and new technology.

All these advantages have led to many people using e-readers instead of print books. This has resulted in a decrease in print book sales. Sales of newspapers and magazines have also declined. Now, fewer people have bookshelves in their homes. However, e-readers do have their disadvantages.

(Not) Sharing Is Caring

One of the biggest disadvantages of e-readers is how difficult they make it to share books. One of the joys of reading an excellent book is being able to share it with friends and family. This isn’t a problem with print books because they can be loaned to people or given away. Unfortunately, e-readers make sharing books more difficult. Some applications do allow for e-book lending, but they can be quite restrictive. That being said, using an e-reader will stop that annoying loved one from borrowing your books and not returning them.

Too Much Screen Time?

Another disadvantage of e-readers is they increase your time spent in front of a screen. This is a problem because there have been suggestions that extra screen time has negative effects. For example, excess time spent watching screens is linked to impaired brain functioning. Another related issue is too much blue light exposure at night. Many e-readers and tablets emit blue light, which is known to interfere with sleep.

E-books Just Aren’t the Same

There are a few other disadvantages to e-readers. Many people enjoy the feel and smell of print books almost as much as they enjoy reading, and e-readers don’t provide these much-loved sensations. Unlike print books, e-books can be erased off your devise remotely. In 2009, Amazon remotely erased some e-books from users’ e-readers. Rather ironically, George Orwell’s 1984 was one of the erased titles. Anything technical carries the risk of malfunctioning, and e-readers are no different. Thankfully, print books don’t malfunction!

As with the advantages, the disadvantages of e-readers have also had an effect on whether people choose them over print books. Some of these issues make people reluctant to use e-readers. While some people have turned to e-readers, many others still have homes filled with overflowing bookshelves.

I’m one of those people with overflowing bookshelves in my home. Even though I do enjoy the occasional e-book, I certainly won’t be giving up my bookshelf any time soon. Do you prefer e-books to print books? Or are you a die-hard print book kind of person? Please let us know in the comments.

About the Author


Caroline is an entertainment and tech blogger. She’s also a self-confessed bibliophile with way too many books on her bookshelves. You can read more of her work at


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1 comment

Janna September 2, 2016 - 7:21 am

Hi Caroline! Thanks for joining us at LQ this week! I prefer a book in print, but lately using my iPad with the Kindle app installed has been so much easier. I rent most books I read from the library and I love that I can get the book instantly on my iPad instead of trekking to the library. But nothing beats turning the real pages of a book.


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