Unsolicited advice: Book, eBook or PDF?

That travel guide that was so much fun to leaf through at home may easily become your biggest burden once you are on the road. Tearing out the pages you do not need anymore is one solution. Choosing a travel guide in an electronic format maybe a less heartbreaking one. But which format is best for travel guides?

If you are familiar with our book reviews, you know that we do read eBooks. They are lightweight and, using an adequate reader, gentle to the eye. For reading plain text, like novels, they are second only to actual books.

Size comparison between a Kindle and an iPod. Ebooks are more gentle to the eye than PDFs on a standard device

Size comparison between a Kindle and an iPod. Ebooks are more gentle to the eye than PDFs on a standard device. And did we like Kathmandu? Yes we did.

Travel guides however are not ordinary books. First of all, they usually contain quite a number of pictures and those pictures are normally not black-and-white like everything else on your eBook reader.

Pictures on in aBook and in a PDF

Pictures in an eBook and in a PDF: The PDF versions are clearly more stunning. Yet we saw Rhinos in Chitwan and not on the star ferry in Hong Kong.

Worse even than pictures are maps. When traveling without mobile internet, those maps in your guide-book might actually be useful. Using them on an eBook reader is however almost impossible because scrolling and zooming are limited on these devices.

Maps on an eBook reader and on an iPod (not to scale)

Maps on an eBook reader and on an iPod (not to scale)

In a travel guide, you will often want to go back to find some information. Didn’t it say something about a cute cafe with chocolate cake somewhere? Or was it apple cake? And that company offering those awesome rafting trips ..? Searching for this type of things in a normal book is easy because you might often remember the general layout of the page with that information. On an eBook reader however, the page layout is not fixed. Moreover, there is that little delay when you open a new page. It is barely noticeable when you read a novel. But it can get really annoying when you click through one page after the other at high speed.

PDFs can add anywhere between a lot (if you carry a computer only to read them) and no weight at all (if you read on a device you were taking with you anyway) to your luggage. The readability scales inversely with the weight. But there are still quite a number of advantages with respect to eBooks: a fixed page layout, easy scrolling and zooming and a fast navigation. Maps and pictures can be displayed in color and the delay in opening the next page is considerably smaller. On our trip to China and Nepal, we were much more comfortable with the PDF guide for China on our iPod (!!!) than with the eBook we used for Nepal.

Our top choice for lightweight travel: a travel guide in PDF format on a mobile phone or iPod. In addition, we carry printouts of a few most important or most often used pages and throw them away as soon as we don’t need them anymore.

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This article was published on perelincolors.com

5 thoughts on “Unsolicited advice: Book, eBook or PDF?

  1. Frank Barrera Jr

    Great read… Got myself the Nook Book (color) a few years ago due to the weight of lugging my laptop around, and I absolutely love it… don’t know how I had lived without it… because the Nook can only access the internet through Wi-Fi, I have recently added a Samsung tablet to my arsenal of gadgets…

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    1. perelincolors

      Ah yes, tablets are an option too. I guess I didn’t mention it because I rarely use mine. But they’re much better for reading PDFs than my iPod of course. It’s a good advice to consider a tablet if weight is not absolutely critical. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. setmeravelles

    Call me old-fashioned, but I’m always going to prefer a book and refuse to get an e-reader, ever…but chances are I’ll use my laptop or iPod to read up about things I want to see anyway.

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    1. perelincolors

      There is nothing old-fashioned about that! When I read at home, I also prefer a real book. There’s more room for a beautiful design in real books and it’s a more complete experience than an eBook. Their main strength really is that it is easier to read on them than on a PC and that they are very easy to carry around.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. setmeravelles

        With as much as I read and as much as I’m on the road, they would make perfect sense for me…but…I just can’t.

        I never really refer to the tour guide when I’m on the streets of a place though, just pre-trip and to refresh my memory when I’m having lunch…I’m much more of a wanderer and use the guides to learn the history of a place…I may have to look into PDFs on the iPod though.

        Liked by 1 person

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