What’s the best bet to read on screen

What’s the best bet to read on screen


Ever since the first iteration of the Amazon Kindle made its mark more than a decade ago, the battle between printed text and reading on screens has raged on. The printed version is still holding strong, even as the reading on screens market has also grown by leaps and bounds. We take a look at the reading experiences on different devices and check out what works and what does not on these devices.

The Kindle 

At a personal level, I was a fan of the physical book and was dead against the use of the Kindle and smartphones for something as basic as reading. I took up reading on the Kindle with a lot of reluctance, but it soon had me hooked.

I no longer had to worry about reading in the night in a dark room, the backlight on the Kindle Paperwhite was easy on the eyes and did not disturb others in the room.

Moreover, I was able to save books on the Amazon cloud with ease, and no longer worry about carrying sacks of books, when I moved houses. Bookmarking was easy and so was searching for titles on the Kindle. Moreover, the Kindle gives us the option of choosing the fonts, in the size you want. Granted, the choice is limited, but it meant that you no longer have to squint to read tightly packed sentences.  The integration of reading communities such as Goodreads meant that you no longer had to look for reviews on another device and could pick up the top reads without much concern. It is very sleek and can be carried about everywhere, from a flight to a crowded commute to work or on in a dark railway compartment.

The latest iteration of the basic Kindle offers a ton of new features, including the introduction of four LED backlights in a slimmer version of the basic model and offers a better contrast value than the older versions.

The reading experience on the Kindle works for most books, though the experience is fairly underwhelming when graphic novels and comic books come into the equation.

Barring the high-end models, the text in the graphic novels are not visible until you enhance the font size and in the basic and paperwhite versions, the images appear stretched.

Occasional missing pages and typos also turn up in older e-book versions. Another issue is the lack of good content in vernacular languages, though Amazon does seem to be introducing more books in languages outside English. What works best for the basic and Paperwhite models of the Kindle is the fact that it does its job with ease and is very non-intrusive, there are no push notifications, ads and other popups that make reading on screen a chore. 

Google Books and the Kindle Apps

Though we do use the phone screens a lot and for almost everything under the sun, casual reading is often a pain point. Unlike the Kindle devices, reading on a regular screen means staring at brightly lit mobile phones for extended periods. This could be rather stressful for the eyes, though reading in the night mode could be helpful in this regard. Unlike the Kindle, since the phone and other computing devices are used for multiple functions, constant notifications are a constant hassle too. 

However, reading on the phone gives users access to more formats, apart from the .mobi files that Kindle uses. Integration with your Kindle library is possible as well. Moreover, reading a big novel on a small mobile or screen is a tough ask. The Kindle app also suffers from many of these issues. 


To be fair, Audiobooks are not something that is new. Recordings of famous plays, important novels and so on have been around for more than 50 odd years. However, the rise of high-speed internet, broadband technologies, new compressed audio formats and portable media players has resulted in a significant increase in the popularity of audiobooks over the last two decades.

Audible is the global leader in this category and the increasing popularity of podcasts has meant that many other players are coming in this space. Audiobooks are expensive and for short stories and works of non-fiction works perfectly fine.

It is non-intrusive, allows the users to listen at their own pace while listening to a book of your choice. A library that remains on cloud ensures that you do not have to worry about losing books. However, with audiobooks, the lack of an actual reading experience may make some wary.

If one has to take a pick, the Kindle, with its clean reading interface, Amazon cloud options and durability would be a clear winner.