Arguments for Making the Switch to eBooks and Digital Reading

Despite the convenience of ebooks and iPad magazines, many readers still prefer the printed word. Whether it's displaying a collection of classic novels in your home, keeping magazines out on the coffee table as a conversation starter, or just the feel of a paperback book in your hands — for a lot of us, the ergonomics and aesthetics of a paper book are still preferable.

That said, the growing popularity and ubiquity of ebooks and digital magazines is hard to deny. Still on the fence about it? Here are a few of the more compelling arguments for picking up an ereader or tablet and making the switch to digital books and magazines.

Packing light when you travel
When on the go, whether on the subway on the way to work or sitting on a plane en route to your summer vacation, digital books and magazine let you travel light. A stack of magazines or even just a few novels can take up a fair amount of space in your precious carryon luggage. Traveling light with an iPad, or even the new Google Nexus 7 tablet, lets you carry along dozens (if not hundreds) of magazines or books in a small, easy to carry package.

If you have a tablet or ereader and plan on traveling with it, consider picking up a few digital magazines or books before you leave the house, so even without wifi you have great content to pass the time on long layovers or flights.

Spend less
Often digital copies of books and magazines offer a small discount on their print counterparts, letting you save a bit of money by going digital. Even if the pricing is comparable, the convenience of having a book or magazine delivered almost instantly to you hands, without shipping cost, or even a drive to the bookstore, is a definite savings in both time and money.

Many iPad versions of popular magazines will also offer special incentive for subscriptions, and even free issues to first time readers of their digital content. Additionally, many publishers offer additional online content to their magazine subscribers. Subscribe to the Economist via the iPad or Android app, and get special access to fresh content throughout the week, in addition to their weekly news magazine.

Free classic literature
In addition to the many paid options for books availible on the iPad, several app based and online resources provide access to libraries of free public domain literature. Been meaning to read the Origin of Species, or The Odyssey? Find them for free instead of picking up a dusty old copy from a used bookstore, on Google Books, Kobo (over 1 million free books), or Project Gutenberg. Get used to picking up those classics for free, and you'll start to wonder why anyone would buy a print copy at all.

A smaller storage footprint in your home
Those of us who live in space limited apartments can appreciate the need to keep our lifestyle and consumer habits as minimalist as possible. Less to store means less storage needed, and less storage means more space to spread out and live. Keeping your literary collection limited to the space occupied by a tablet reduces your shelving needs, leaving more room for other interesting artifacts and more practical storage applications.

Of course, like most of you, I like to keep a few paper books, ones that I have kept with me over the years. But as the years go by, I find myself pairing down my collection more and more. Meanwhile, my ebook collection keeps growing, and I've actually started buying more magazines thanks to the amazing selection of magazines available to me on the iPad (especially with the recent addition of the Google Currents app to the iPhone and Android app stores).

Digital media is quickly replacing more traditional forms of content delivery. It's happening in the music industry, movies and television, and like it or not, it's happening to print. While holding on to specific books for their romantic (dare I say nostalgic) appeal, more and more readers are moving to digital formats for the compelling reasons I've listed above. The advantages of digital media, in distribution and ease of access, will in many ways be to the printed word what the advent of the Gutenberg press was to handwritten manuscripts. Keep in mind, the move to digital doesn't mean the death of reading. In many ways, taking advantage of digital media means expanding your literary horizons and reading more, all the while saving money, and enjoying a more minimalistic lifestyle.

(Images: Sean Rioux)