Are you an avid reader?
If so, you will, of course, have the question, is it better to read books or articles?
Today, I will compare reading books vs articles. Once you go through the article below, you can settle this debate once and for all.
Let me now answer this common question which readers often have.
Which is better? Reading books or articles?
Reading books is undoubtedly better than reading articles because of in-depth research, better context, and detailed information. Reading articles is a good choice only when you want quick information and the most up-to-date information.
As you can see, depending on the case, your choice between books and articles can vary.
I will highlight below in which case you should prefer reading books and in which case you should prefer reading articles.
Before that, however, I will highlight the differences between the article and the book.
What is the difference between article and book?
The differences between an article and the book are quite a few, like length, context, Time sensitivity, and depth.
I will highlight all these aspects below.
The primary difference between the article in the book is the length. An article can be up to 3000 words. However, the average length is around 500 to 1000 words.
On the other hand, an average book is at least 200 pages.
Notice the difference?
The main difference between both of these is the length. However, in many cases, the higher length of the book certainly works in its favor.
By nature, an article directly gets to the point.
The reason for the same is because the article needs to cover information in a limited word count. An article cannot cost the reader hours of his/her time.
That is why an article is superficial when compared to a book.
On the other hand, when you’re reading a book, you will find a lot of context. The author of the book often delves into the topic’s motivation, cause of the topic, and other related matters.
Consequently, the amount of context present in the book is enormous compared to an article. It is another crucial difference between the article and a book.
3. Time sensitivity
Articles often have up-to-date information. Even if you’re reading an article published 6 to 8 months ago, it is likely to have up-to-date information until that point in time.
On the other hand, books are written in such a way that they have timeless information.
Due to the same, you might find valuable information, but if you’re looking for the latest updates on a topic, the book is not a good idea unless the author has published an updated edition recently.
Thus, whether you go with a book or an article will depend on whether you’re looking for timeless information or looking for time-bound information.
As I have highlighted above, an article often delves on a topic superficially. While the author of the article might not do so deliberately, the word count limit forces the article writer not to go in-depth.
On the other hand, when you’re writing a book, you have complete freedom.
The author can write specialized and in-depth information on complex topics. The author can write 20 pages more to achieve the same.
Books can be of as many pages as the author wants. That is why, when it comes to depth, a book certainly has an advantage as compared to articles.
Thus, when you’re comparing reading books vs articles, these are the 4 key differences between them.
There are a few cases in which reading articles make sense, and in few other cases reading books makes sense.
I will highlight the cases in which reading articles makes sense below.
When is it better to read article?
In some instances, reading articles makes perfect sense. I will highlight them below.
1. Time constraint
When you’re short on time and cannot spend hours going through the information, reading an article makes perfect sense.
For example, if your boss asks for some information, you cannot spend hours reading the book to answer your boss. In that case, going through an article makes complete sense.
2. Need of only recent developments
Are you just trying to track the recent developments in an industry?
If so, the articles can undoubtedly help you out. Many bloggers, journalists as well as writers write articles covering such developments in the industry. Books are not updated that frequently.
Thus, when looking for recent developments in an industry, it makes sense to go through an article.
3. Prodding the surface of the topic
Want to gain basic knowledge on a topic?
If so, articles can undoubtedly come to your rescue.
For example, if you have come across a new technique, methodology, or term, it does not make sense to read a book on it.
To find out what it is or how it works, it is better to go through an article on the topic. That will help you fulfill your purpose without spending hours.
These are the 3 cases in which reading articles makes perfect sense.
However, there are a few other cases in which you should take up a book. I will cover these below.
When should you pick a book?
Many times, it makes sense to spend hours going through a book. These cases include:
1. Timeless knowledge
The authors of most books write it in such a way that the books consist of timeless content. Such information does not change with time.
The timeless knowledge in books ensures that you should pick up a book if you want to understand a topic or industry holistically.
The timeless knowledge certainly apprises you of everything on that particular topic.
Many times, gaining such timeless knowledge can benefit you immensely. To achieve the same, books are perfect for you.
2. Need specialized knowledge on a subject
Want to increase your expertise on a particular subject?
If so, articles will not help you. Books are the only solution.
The in-depth knowledge on complex topics is only available in books.
Not only that, but books cover historical events, various developments, and academic research as well. It is easy for you to become well-versed in industry or on topic with such specialized knowledge.
Thus, when looking for specialized knowledge, taking up books is the only way to go.
3. Need supporting arguments
Researching a particular topic is not an easy task. Merely stating the information on the subject is not good enough.
You have to support your arguments with more information. Supporting information requires you to go through books. You can easily cite books to justify your research or data.
In that case, articles might hold less value as compared to books. Consequently, reading books in such a case is the right way to go.
4. Need all information in a single place
When you’re reading articles, you will find more and more information about the topic. However, to dig deeper, you will have to find and search for even more articles.
By the end of it, you might end up spending the same time as reading a book.
On the other hand, when you’re reading a book, you will find all the information in a single place.
Most books will not ask you to refer to some other book to understand the point entirely. Many books have dedicated chapters on subtopics as well.
By the end of that book, it will become easier for you to understand the main topic and its sub-topics.
Imagine when you read a couple of books on the topic. The extent of information which you will gain from those 2 books will be enormous.
Consequently, when you need all the information in a single place, it makes perfect sense to go with the book.
5. Go ahead and information
If you try to learn a topic through online articles, there will be no flow.
Each time you come across a new term, you will have to search once again and find a relevant article. Soon enough, it can result in a confusing and jumbled mess of information.
Books, on the other hand, have a coherent flow. They offer cohesive information. Owing to this very reason, it is easier to understand the entire topic.
These are the main reasons why picking a book rather than going through the article makes sense.
This brings us to the crucial question that even though a lot of people have. Are books a waste of time?
I will answer this question below.
Are books a waste of time?
No, books aren’t a waste of time.
It all depends on the extent of information which you need on a topic. If you need in-depth information, books are your only source. Besides, you can save time while reading books as well. You can go with audiobooks, read faster or avoid distractions to save more time.
Even without these tips, books aren’t a waste of time as the specialized knowledge which they provide isn’t available elsewhere.
So, in the timeless debate of reading books vs articles, books certainly have the upper hand.
The level of knowledge which they provide is almost unparalleled. Couple that with all the information they provide in a single place, and it is easy to understand why books have an advantage over articles.