[Disclaimer: this article is written in reformed english.]

Many peeple hav sayd to me that they hav tryed reeding ebooks but that it is too uncomfortable for them. I will discuss my thots about this situation below.

Using desktops

Sitting in front of the computer

One typically sits at a desktop computer with a chair, and it can get uncomfortable sitting a long time in a chair. This depends on the chair, of cors, and depending on wher the computer one is reeding on is, one may or may not be able to change the chair to a mor comfortable chair or perhaps som other kind of furnitur.

Many peeple like to reed in their bed befor going to sleep or just in general. It is hard to use a desktop for this activity.


If one also uses the desktop computer for many other things, one might want to not close down all the applications wile one is reeding. This increeses the chance that one will be distracted wile reeding wich reduces efficiency. Ther ar a couple of ways to deel with this: 1) Close down the applications anyway. One may need to close down a lot of applications, and re-open after one is don reeding. I dislike this method but it may be feesible for som. 2) Switch to another desktop. Som operating systems com with an innate ability to hav multiple ‘virtual’ desktops. To avoid having to close down a large number of applications, one can switch to an emty desktop. 3) Many programs to view PDF files (or similar ebook formats) hav the ability to go into full-screen mode. In full-screen mode, one cannot see other applications, wich reduces the chance that they will distract one. Exeptions ar applications that somhow override this full-screen state (e.g. pop-up windows) or applications that play sounds wen events happen. To counter this last element, one can turn off the sound. Depending on how one does this, one might not be able to enjoy music wile reeding. This will therfor present a problem for som peeple.

A general advice about computers, and to a lesser degree tablets, is that it is wise to log off varius instant messenger services to avoid becoming distracted wile reeding. This is a very important advice. Do not underestimate how eesily one is distracted by such programs. Humans ar very social animals.

Screen size

Obviously the screen size of desktop computers make them good for viewing PDFs, even those with small text.

Looking things up

Wen using a computer or tablet and one has internet access, one has the ability to look things on the internet e.g. a dictionary. One may even download a dictionary and use it without internet access. Som ebook reeders, however, com with in-bilt dictionarys and som of them hav browsers as well, altho they tend to be of poor quality, and the slowly updating screen makes it hard to browse the internet.



In contrast to the desktop computer, laptops (including notebooks, netbooks, gaming laptops, and tablets) can generally be used everywher (exeptions ar e.g. airplanes). Depending on the specific laptop, it may be comfortable to reed wile laying in the bed. Smaller laptops ar eesyer to handle and offer greater mobility and also ofen better battery times (see below), but they tend to hav a smaller screen size too.

Despite their increesed mobility in relation to desktops, laptops, however, all need power once in a wile. How ofen will depend on the laptop. If one spends a lot of time in areas wher ther is no power available for recharging (say, a lawn or a forest, or public transportation), this may be a problem.

Screen size

Depending on one’s eyes, one may want to get a small laptop, e.g. a netbook (7-10” screen) or a large one (>15”). The small ones typically hav great battery time. Depending on the source material, one might not want to get a such small screen as it is hard to make the text of scanned PDFs large enof to comfortably reed it without having to scroll horizontally. I use a 13” laptop and my experience is that this is close to the perfect size for a person with normal vision.


If one does not normally work on the laptop, it may be eesyer to avoid the distractions ofen associated with a desktop computer. The advice given in relation to desktops apply here as well.

Ebooks reeders

The screen

Ebook reeders ar electronic devices designed specifically to be nice to reed on. They ofen use a different kind of display technology called E-ink. Looking at E-ink is a lot looking at regular paper and requires background light. This may be a problem in som contexts, for instance, if one is reeding in a tent at night without a flashlight.

The size of ebook reeders, however, is ofen like that of netbooks. They typically if not always hav options to enlarge the text to make it nicer to the eye. This, however, does not work for scanned PDFs, and the screen size is typically if not always1 too small for one to be able to reed scanned PDFs without too much eye strain. For ebooks in non-scanned formats, the ebook reeders typically hav a function called ”reflow”. It lets the device moov text around so that one avoids having to scroll horizontally. This does not work for scanned PDFs.

Becus the manufacturers of ebook reeders ar ofen the same peeple who sell ebooks for serius amounts of money (somtimes they ar even mor expensiv than paper books; this is absurd given that ther is virtually no production cost beyond the first copy), it is not likely that they will produce ebook reeders with large enof screens so that one can reed scanned PDFs. That wud ‘undermine’ their own incom channel from ebooks in non-scanned formats.

Battery time

Ebook reeders typically hav a great battery time becus they use the E-ink display technology.

References / reeding material




emilkirkegaard.dk/da/?p=1877 A previus article of mine discussing the pros and cons with ebooks and paper books. Danish.


1AFAICT from varius testimonys from peeple having tryed using the largest ~10” ebook reeders, they ar not sufficiently large for this to be nice to do.


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