Reading Apps vs. eReaders vs. Paperbacks: What’s the Best Way to Read While Travelling?

Road Trip Reading — Checking out Our Favourite and Most Convenient Formats
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Reading Apps vs. eReaders vs. Paperbacks: What’s the Best Way to Read While Travelling?

When it comes to travelling, how we read is almost as important as what we read. Are you a die-hard fan of the paperback? Or maybe you’d rather travel light and take your pick from an online library?

Each reading format definitely has its pros and cons. But whatever you prefer, there are no winners or losers as long as a good story is available. Read on to see where you stand with the options below.

The Case for the Paperback

Reading paperback books on a beach vacation”

At the risk of sounding ancient, I do love the feel of a paperback in my hands, no matter how heavy my luggage is. Who can resist curling up in bed with a novel at the end of a long day? You can’t get the same type of cosy cuddling a gadget. 

The convenience of said gadgets aside, travelling with a book almost feels like travelling with a loyal friend. Bored? Have time to spare? Going solo? A book is always there to fill the void. Here are the pros and cons of inviting your paperback along for the ride.

The Upsides 

  • No batteries needed! You’ll never have to worry about having enough juice to get your reading fix in sitting in the middle of a forest.
  • Reading before bed can help you to fall asleep while screen time may do the opposite. 
  • The scent of a book, old or new, feels personal. It’s linked to the joy of reading and can connect us to the story at hand.

The Downsides

  • Light source not included. You’ll need to rely on the sun or a separate device to read at night or in low-light conditions. 
  • Bigger books, especially trade paperbacks, can be bulky and a pain to carry around if you’re aiming to travel light.
  • One book usually means one story, so choose wisely!

eReaders and Reading Apps: The Convenience of a Travelling Library

Reading eBooks on a Kobo eReader poolside vacation

While there’s something romantic about taking a paperback along on a road trip, we can’t deny the amazing opportunities afforded by eReaders and reading apps

eReaders were the next logical, technological step in presenting stories to consumers, and these handy gadgets have come a long way since the early days. But today, reading apps have made it even easier for us to access not just books, but magazines, comics and videos on our personal devices. However, there are still a few downsides to going the electronic route. 

  • If your job involves working in front of a computer all day, the extra screen time may lead to eye strain if using older devices.
  • You’ll have to ensure your device is charged up. No power, no reading. 
  • Built-in distractions there are always other books to download and new, upcoming titles to consider which can make it challenging to just focus on the story at hand.
  • Trying to read in the sun? You might find that the glare from the screen makes it harder.
  • A regular-sized book beats a phone in terms of screen size.
  • Electronics are always vulnerable to glitches and tech issues. If they stop working, or fall and break, your library is closed.

But if you can handle these minor setbacks, the benefits are many: 

  • Access to tons of titles. Great for longer trips.
  • eBooks are available in a variety of formats to complement your specific device.
  • Personal preference settings book theme, font size and style, light control. You’re the boss! Bonus points for the ability to read in the dark without the need for a book light or lamp.
  • Reduced ecological footprint there are zero shipping costs and no trees or ink are needed to enjoy a good read.
  • Rather leave the work of reading to someone else while you lounge on a deck? Audiobooks are the way to go. 
  • Instant gratification that book is yours as soon as the download completes. No need to go to a store or wait for a package to arrive.

If you’ve definitely decided to ditch the paperback for your next staycation, here are a few options to get you started.

Reading Apps


Pure Audio

Honourable Mention

  • OverDrive access to eBooks, audiobooks, and videos from your local library. Great free resource! 

So does the paperback make the cut? Or have you been swayed by technology? Tweet us your travel reading style or share your reading road travels with us on Instagram. Wherever you’re headed, we hope you’re enjoying yourself safely and bringing a book along, digital or otherwise.

Keisha Paterson

Keisha Paterson is a lifetime writer of sticky-note poetry who enjoys comfort foods, self-care holidays, and Hawaiian dance. A prolific wanderer, she loves to discover and take home old orphaned books and eclectic records. She is an office manager, private yoga instructor, and freelance editor in Toronto. 

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