Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen

Okay, I’m not prone to use words like “ridiculous” in describing other people’s opinions…and I don’t really think I’m doing that here.

The chart (really more of a table) presented in this


hypothetically doesn’t offer an opinion, although it does have some evaluative comments (“incredibly hard”).

What it does is compare a paperbook (p-book) to a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and to an iPad.

It compares price, weight, battery life, pros, and cons.


Notice that I said it compares “a paperbook”.

That’s like comparing an apple to a bushel of oranges. 😉

They list the cost of a p-book at $15.52…and the cost of a Paperwhite at $120.

It would make more sense to compare a bookcase to a Paperwhite.

If we start out saying that a bookcase costs, oh, $100, that’s still not the way to do it.

Even if we discount the free cloud storage (which would be a big mistake), a Paperwhite can hold what would be many bookcases worth of books.

We’ll go with…you want the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harry Potter series, and the top five New York Times hardback fiction equivalent bestsellers…plus a single bookcase or a Paperwhite. We’ll use $100 for the bookcase, $120 for the Paperwhite.

Shakespeare in hardback (that seems to be their comparison): I’m finding new ones for as low as about $25.

Shakespeare in e-book: free

At this point, we are close enough to even. 🙂

Harry Potter hardback boxed set of the 7: $116.55 (that’s a considerable discount, by the way)

Harry Potter in e-book: $57.54…oh, and you could read them all in a month for $9.99 with

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but you don’t own them then, so that’s not really a fair comparison.

The e-book choice is about $40 cheaper at this point.

Now, let’s add in the bestsellers:

P-book E-book
$16.07 $13.99
$13.47 $6.99
$15.29 $13.99
$16.70 $11.43
$15.14 $12.99
$76.67 $59.39
 Difference $17.28

I simply don’t think you can reasonably suggest that it is less expensive to have a library of p-books than a library of e-books.

Yes, you can re-sell p-books…but if you don’t, you pay to store them. It’s rent/property taxes/mortgage for the floor under the bookcase. As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I had to always make that calculation…it’s why a slow-selling book couldn’t profitably be kept sitting around in the store…you would eventually have lost money keeping it there.

The pros and cons listed also seem…odd, to me.

I don’t want to take too much away from the chart, so I’ll just mention one.

One of two cons listed under the Papewhite is “…Still not water-proof”.

You know, because p-books do just fine when you drop in the bathtub. 😉

Let me be very clear that the excellent EBOOK FRIENDLY did not create this chart. It appears in an interesting Wall Street Journal article (to which they link), and is reportedly based on the School Library Journal’s 2015 Book Pricing Report.

There are pros and cons to p-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and tablets…I just don’t think this chart presents them in a particularly useful way.

Oh, I am going to mention one more thing from the chart.

The iPad is described as “…hard to read on in the sun”.

The use of two prepositions in a row like that can be jarring (what was wrong with, “…hard to read in the sun”?). It reminds me of this old “joke” (it’s not exactly a joke) designed to make grammar purists react the way most people do to fingernails on a blackboard (which, I’ve heard, is so irritating because it is a similar frequency to a monkey’s panic vocalization…you don’t like the sound, because you think a leopard is about to leap into your troop).

A young child is sick upstairs.

A parent, wanting to console the child, brings in a book the child had loved a few years ago…but which the child now thinks they have outgrown.

The child says, “What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”


I’ve probably told this one before on this blog, but legendarily, Winston Churchill was upbraided for ending a sentence with a preposition. Churchill knew how to speak to the common people, and made the choice to use accessible language. Churchill’s reported response was, “…that is the sort of grammatical pedantry up with which I will not put.” 🙂

I would guess all of my readers could come with reasons why e-books can be better than p-books, so let me flip that: give me some arguments why having a library of p-books is better than a library of e-books. You can do that (and share other thoughts) for me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


12 Responses to “Perhaps the most ridiculous p to e comparison I’ve ever seen”

  1. Karin Says:

    P books don’t need to be charged. Ereaders do.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karin!

      That works if you only want to read during the day. 🙂 If you think about it, though, most people probably use an energy source more often with a p-book than with a Paperwhite. I’d never thought of that before, because I first formed my thoughts about it around the Kindle 1…which required core charging and a light source. With the Paperwhite, it’s only core charging (which powers the light).

      So, yes, you could want to read a book with an EBR and be unable to do so since it isn’t charged (that doesn’t happen to me)…but if you had no power, you could probably read more conveniently with a Paperwhite…

  2. Steve Says:

    Me thinks you’ve been Jonathan Swifted, or perhaps I have by you.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Steve!

      I’m more of a parody person than a satirist, but in either case, I label it. 🙂 It’s usually explained within the post, and be categorization.

      I’d be surprised if the article I linked (and the one they linked) was a satire…no one suggested a gastronomic solution to economic class disparity. 😉

  3. Harold Delk Says:

    What’s missing here is that they have not accounted for the influence of frozen foods on the pre-war French economy. The sales of ebooks have risen exponentially since the advent of frozen foods … even in France. Shaking your head yet, Bufo, as to where this post is heading? All I really wanted to point out was an article from WSJ relating to a change at Amazon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      🙂 Loved your intro!

      It’s an interesting article. I’m not sure how much it has to do with Google, but it might. It seems like a not incongruent part of Amazon 2.0.

  4. Patty Breakfast Says:

    None of them are water proof. But a couple of times water has fallen on my Kindle paperwhite and I have been able to dry it with a paper towel and no trace of the water has remained. If I drop water on a paper book it will get stained, and it will remain like that forever.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Patty!

      Quite right! That’s why I thought it was an odd thing to list as a con for the Paperwhite, and not for the others. I think they may have been also comparing it to the Kobo Aura H20, which is water resistant.

      It’s also much easier to read a Paperwhite inside a Ziploc bag (many people do that), than to read a p-book in a Ziploc…just because of the space needed to turn paper pages.

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about the table’s senselessness.

    I went back to the original WSJ source for the table, and (as I suspected) this was part of a purported review of the PW3. The review itself is fairly positive in tone, but it was done by one of the two new gadget reviewers at the WSJ who replaced the AllThingsD duo of Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg who left the WSJ to pursue their own thing at ReCode.

    The new reviewers are much younger, and really really bad Apple fanatics ( not that Mossberg wasn’t one, but age made his fanishness more tolerable). The new reviewers even when they are dealing with something (as here) that has little to do with Apple products can’t avoid adding some commentary about how much better things are in an Apple-centric world (their recent review of the Echo was laughable in this regard).

    I presume because of their youth (and having only a week or two with a product), they can’t seem to step out of their own gadget world to try and imagine what life might be like for the non-Apple-besotted among us (:grin).

    Sorry for the rant, but these two are getting under my skin 😦 .

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      The table did appear in a review, but they did cite another source. 🙂 It’s possible that they selectively interpreted the material in the original report, of course. 🙂

      For mainstream tech reporters, I like Jeffrey Trachtenberg…that’s really the only standout fore me. 🙂

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        You are right I missed the original source of that table: the 2015 School Library Journal Pricing Report. Given the source, and their presumed objectives, the table is not perhaps as crazy at it seemed in the two other places it was used.

        I agree with you on Trachtenberg — he’s very fair and objective. His opposite number at the NYT: David Streitfeld, seems to have a bee in his bonnet about Amazon — so much so that during l’Affaire Hachette, the NYT ombudsman had to do a review of his work, and he was mildly rebuked.

        He’s out with another look at Amazon: this time their hiring practices, and working conditions:

        It’s very long.

        I’ve worked at places that were as focused as Amazon (Salomon Brothers), and at places where “work life balance” were more important (Microsoft — hard to believe that?). Different strokes for different folks I guess — I enjoyed my time at both firms (:grin).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I flipped something about that new article into my ILMK Flipboard magazine

        this morning, but I haven’t had a chance to read the whole article yet.

        My guess is that I’ll comment on it some way after I have…

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