We all know that vegetables are good for us, and we don’t eat enough of it daily. Similarly, reading is an activity that we know we should do more of. Yet a lot of us don’t make time for it.

But seriously, we should. Because the benefits of reading are numerous.

It allows us to go to places where we can never go and even experience the lives and times of people whom we have never or will never meet. Books have the potential to teach us something new, change our worldview, or simply offer an escape from reality.

Hulk and Friends Leave Dumb Place
Image Credit: Marvel

The Hulk reads. Be like the Hulk. That’s why he has a PhD in nuclear physics and two other fields.

But if you need a non-fictional role model, look no further than Bill Gates – the man behind Microsoft (up to 7% cashback) – who reads a whopping 50 books a year! Although he goes to interesting places and talks to many scientists and professionals, he stated in an interview with Business Times that “reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding”.

With Amazon’s recent announcement of its latest, Kindle Paperwhite (4th Generation), bookworms who don’t own an e-reader and those picking up a book again might be wondering if an e-reader is a worthwhile investment. Should you continue buying paperbacks? Should you go to the library to pick up the latest bestseller? Will a Kindle Paperwhite help you save money on books? Read on as we take a look at these questions and more…

And if you enjoy reading and learning new things too, why not follow us on our Telegram channel?


Buy A Paperback (Or Hardback)

Let’s say you wish to read the latest bestseller: Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. That’s simple. You head to Book Depository (up to 4% cashback). A few clicks and about 2 weeks later, you’ll get your book delivered straight to you.

Book Depository Screenshot

Naturally, there’re pros and cons to this arrangement:

Pros

  1. Owning A Physical Copy
Spongebob Reading
Image Credit: giphy

Owning an actual copy of a paperback or hardback means that you can always revisit the book anytime. And if you’re not really a stickler for keeping your books pristine, you can mark out favourite paragraphs or quotes with (gasp) a pen or highlighter. Or share the book with a loved one if it’s particularly meaningful. There’s also no deadline for you to return the book by – like you would have to with a library book.

  1. “Bibliochor”: The Smell Of A Book
Scrubs Reading In Bed
Image Credit: Scrubs | giphy

There’s just something about the smell and satisfaction of cracking open a new book. Or for some people, the smell of an old book. While you snuggle under the covers with a cup of your favourite beverage. And that’s an olfactory experience which no e-reader or tablet can replicate.

Why Do Books Smell?

Old books: Some of the chemicals responsible for the unique smell of old books include ethyl hexanol (floral notes), toluene (sweet odour), and vanillin (vanilla-like). These chemical undergo acid hydrolysis over a long period of time which explains why old books smell they way they do.

 

New books: The smell of new books vary with the type of paper, ink, as well as other chemicals used in say... Book-binding. While some of these chemicals are odourless themselves, the combination can cause reactions and release a certain smell which some people are fond of.

 

Essentially, no single chemical causes the smell we associate with books. It's a complex mix of volatile chemicals used in the manufacture of the book, as well as the gradual degradation of the same chemicals.

 

Cons

  1. Delivery Takes Time
Cookie Monster Waiting
Image Credit: Sesame Street | giphy

Book Depository takes 2 business days to mail out your order. And it takes another 5 to 9 business days to get to you. So if you’ve got FOMO tendencies, this option is not going to sit very well with you.

  1. Books Take Up Space
Library Filled Up
Image Credit: giphy

Unless you have access to a pocket dimension, you’ll most likely run out of space if you keep adding books to your collection. (Writer’s note: My bedside table is literally a stack of books so high that it’s the perfect nightstand for my other books. For now.)

Total Cost: SGD$500 (assuming you add 50 books a year to your collection like Bill Gates does!)


Borrow A Book

The good thing about the National Library Board (NLB) is that they keep their catalogue updated pretty regularly. So if we do a quick search for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

National Library Board Catalogue Screenshot

Yep, you can definitely find it. Unless you’re looking for some obscure manuscript written in Harappan (Note: the language of the Indus Valley civilisation which lasted from approximately 3300 to 1300 B.C.)…

Pros

  1. It’s Free, Duh…

It costs a grand total of SGD$0 if you borrow your books from the NLB. Nuff’ said.

  1. Never Run Out Of Space

Because you’re always borrowing and returning books, you don’t have to make space to keep those books. The NLB libraries all over the island are YOUR personal library. Except you cannot slide from one end of a shelf to another on the rolling ladder.

Belle In A Library
Image Credit: Disney

The staff WILL throw you out. (Writer’s note: I may or may not have tried this… Heh.)

Cons

  1. Patience Is A Virtue

As you’re getting access to classics, perennial favourites, and the latest titles for free, you’ll have to either:

  • Wait a little bit for the NLB to curate and have the book available in its catalogue. They don’t just go out and buy every new book that gets released.
  • Might have to wait a smidge longer for more popular titles as they tend to be borrowed quickly and by many people. Case in point, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before currently has more than 10 reserves.

The NLB allows members to borrow a book for 21 days, and renew the loan once for another 21 days. This means that if you really want to find out if Lara Jean gets together with Peter Kavinsky. And you’re number 11 in line. You’re going to have to wait for…

Hangover Math
Image Credit: giphy

462 days or almost 1 year and 4 months (Note: we’re assuming the worse case scenario that there’s only 1 copy of the book available).

And that’s on top of paying the reservation fee of SGD$1.55. Ugh.

  1. Suspect Origins

For neatniks and individuals who need to sterilise EVERYTHING from foreign or questionable sources, a library book is… To put it simply… Really gross.

Animated Bacteria
Image Credit: @kiiirun

But for the rest of us who can “live a little dangerously”, there’s really no cause for concern when handling library books.

Even though viruses and bacteria can live on the pages of them, the chances of you catching something is really low. If not, the whole concept of public libraries is obviously not going to fly with the scientists at the Communicable Diseases Centre.

Total Cost: SGD$77.50 (assuming you have to reserve all 50 titles through the year)


The E-Reader Option: Kindle Paperwhite

The new Kindle Paperwhite (4th Generation) is still the same beautiful device that is perfect for reading. Save for the fact that it now has Bluetooth capability (so you can listen to eBooks via your wireless headphones), and it’s also rated IPX8 (meaning it can be submerged up to 2 metres for 60 minutes in fresh water). This means that you can take your Kindle to the pool and don’t have to fear dropping it into the water.

Kindle Paperwhite
Image Credit: Amazon

Although you can get a Kindle from Qoo10 (up to 2% cashback), you should note that Kindles aren’t officially available in Singapore yet. So for your purchase of the new Paperwhite (4th Generation), we’re going to assume a few things:

  • You’re getting the 8GB version, with Wi-Fi and ads, that costs USD$129.99 or approximately SGD$180, direct from Amazon
  • You managed to get a friend to bring it back from the States for you, so there’re no delivery charges or import fees to contend with

A quick check online reveals that the Kindle version of Jenny Han’s light-hearted romance costs USD$6.78 (SGD$9.36). You’ll notice that an e-book is cheaper than a physical copy of the novel.

Amazon Jenny Han Title Screenshot

 

Assuming again that you read 50 books in a year at about SGD$9 an e-book, that works out to be about SGD$450. Of course, you have to factor in the price of the Kindle Paperwhite as well.

So effectively in the first year of owning an e-reader vs. buying actual books, you would have spent SGD$630 vs. SGD$500.

Why Not Subscribe To Kindle Unlimited?

The more perceptive readers would have noticed that we didn't factor in a monthly Kindle Unlimited subscription, USD$9.99 (SGD$13.79) which would be a better value because it gives you access to over a million titles. True. However, if you browse through the online catalogue, you might find it difficult to locate titles you'll actually want to read.

If you have a favourite author, there's a good chance that their work is published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, or Simon & Schuster. And sadly, these publishing houses aren't on the service.

 

(Writer’s note: If you’re REALLY resourceful, there are free e-books out there which you can side-load into your Kindle and effectively only have to pay for the device. Yargh!)

Pros

  1. Portability and Convenience

The Kindle Paperwhite clocks in at a mere 182g. That’s about as heavy as 2 Del Monte bananas.

Banana Minions
Image Credit: giphy

And with 8GB of storage, you can carry an entire library or thousands of books with you everywhere. Plus you also don’t have to worry about finding the space to store those thousands of books.

  1. Adaptable Light and E-Ink Carta Display

The Paperwhite comes with an E-Ink Carta display that gives you laser-sharp text, and best of all is glare-free.

Kindle Glare Free
Image Credit: Amazon

The adaptable LED lights also allow you to read both indoors and outdoors. And you might think that all of this features mean that the Kindle Paperwhite probably has an abysmal battery life… But surprise, surprise… A single charge lasts about 6 weeks (your mileage will vary of course, depending on your use) so you can.

Cons

  1. Getting The Titles You Want

If you’re a huge fan of secondhand books, you’ll be disappointed to find out that there’s no such thing as “secondhand e-books”. This means that even though an e-book is cheaper than a brand new issue, you still can’t beat the low prices you pay for a secondhand (or older) version of the same title. It’s also sometimes a little difficult to find the titles you want in e-book form. And have you ever tried scouring the internet in search of content which you can download safely and securely?

Kellie Pickler Confused
Image Credit: giphy

Finding an e-book gets even harder especially if they’re written by an author who’s not as popular. Or it’s a title that has to be translated from a slightly more uncommon language like Polish.

  1. Lending Others Your E-Book

It’s not impossible. However, it’ll be a chore for the less tech-savvy. On the plus side, you never have to worry about a bad breakup or the person disappearing from your life with your favourite paperback.

Total Cost: SGD$630 (for the first year of owning the device; SGD$450 or free thereafter. Depending on how resourceful you are.)


Will You Actually Save Money On Books?

It depends.

If you’re resourceful enough, a Kindle Paperwhite will be the last purchase you ever make to feed your reading habit. Plus your parents and partners won’t have to lovingly ask you to “keep your eff-ing books in one place”. But really, whether you decide to buy a book, borrow one, or get an e-reader to read one. Just get into the habit of reading. Because like what Bill Gates said, “Each book opens up new avenues of knowledge to explore”. And besides:

Books Are Great
Image Credit: giphy

So do yourself a favour and crack open a book. You just might surprise yourself.

Psst… If you’re thinking of getting a Kindle. We’ve got great news because 11 11 Singles’ Day is just around the corner! Which means you just might be able to pick up a Kindle at a discount while scoring upsized cashback! So what are you waiting for? Subscribe to our Telegram channel and be informed of the next slew of promotions and deals!


Do you own a Kindle? Do you have a favourite author or book that you’d love to share with others? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image Credit: iryna1 | Shutterstock

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