Should you read Medium instead of Books?

My top 5 recommendations for anyone who want suggestions.

Most people read to get the pleasure of reading. Some are slight exceptions. I am the kind of person who likes to read. But at the same time, I don’t like reading. Confusing? To put it precisely, I like the outcome of the reading, the value you get after reading. Hence I have a natural inclination towards non-fiction and academic books.

I am more of a non-fiction person and I usually consider reading fiction waste of time. Last time I started reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank which is one the most read in war-time autobiographies and I got sleepy after a few chapters. So fiction or novels are not really my thing.

I came across Medium around December and I found it very intriguing. Different kinds of writings on a variety of topics under one media platform is not common. But for the person who spends money cautiously, I was quite reluctant to pay for Medium subscription after the end of the free trial. I really enjoyed Medium but paying money? I thought it is not worth it.

For the most time, I have been relying on paperbacks (not even kindle). And when the choice came between choosing a paperback and Medium subscription, I thought why not compare value delivered by a book with value delivered by medium?

I did some calculations about whether Medium is expensive as compared to reading a book. Most of the values I took are from personal reading preferences. But since I am a pretty average reader, many of the calculations would not deviate by large for many. Besides even if you are a voracious reader, the conclusion will make more sense to you.

My usual reading frequency is around 1 book per month. I considered 5 books which I could say sum-up my reading taste.

Top 5 books with their word count, page count and Amazon India prices.
Top 5 books with their word count, page count and Amazon India prices.

The values of word count are estimated values taken from audiobook’s lengths. Prices are taken from Amazon India.

The average cost of a book per month is ₹499.
Average words per book are 124697.
Average time spent daily is around 60 minutes.
Therefore, the average time spent monthly is around 30 hours.

The price paid for Medium is ₹3250 for a year of subscription.
Therefore, the price paid for a month is ₹271.

I have read many articles on Medium and observed that on most occasions they are ranging from 3 minutes to 15 minutes. Most fact-based articles (which are not stories) are around 6 minutes to 12 minutes. So I am assuming 9 minutes to be an average time of an article to be spent. Considering the calculation of article duration from the word count, Medium assumes around 210 words per minute. So we will take that value to count average word count of a post which gets 1890 words.

Now we will equate quantity. That is, how much content of Medium is equivalent to reading a book. Dividing 124697 by 1890, we get around 66 articles to be read in a month. Which translates to 2.2 articles per day consuming no more than 20 minutes on an average. On monthly basis, we are spending around 9 hours 45 minutes.

Now, we will equate price. That is how much content of Medium with respect to its price should be read to gain value delivered by a book. To read content worth ₹271 considering value delivered by words per ₹ by a book, around 36 articles should be read in a month translating to around 1.2 articles per day consuming around 20 minutes on an average. On monthly basis, we are spending around 5 hours 30 minutes.

Here one thing to notice is that in quantity, Medium articles give minimum with respect to a book. That means you could read more than the required articles for the same price. The opposite phenomenon can be seen in terms of value. That is, books have upper bound for prices for a fixed number of pages whereas Medium has a variable amount of content with no upper limit.

So after a basic analysis of value and prices between a book and a Medium subscription. Medium is a clear winner. You are clearly getting more value derived from a Medium subscription if you are reader like me than buying a book. I took only 5 books into consideration for simplifying calculations. Now as I buy more books, they also get on the slightly expensive side. So, the value delivered by Medium increases in proportion.

But there are some things to keep in mind here. This was just a value comparison. The medium can be no way a substitute for reading a book. At least not for now. Medium is at the most comparable with magazine services or newspaper editorials and to be honest, we don’t tend to remember much of the content we read in these. In the case of books, you have to invest a considerable amount of time, mental energy, focus to learn. And over the period, knowledge learned from books gets compounded as we learn to connect dots and gain perspectives.

One more point to add here is that here in India, Medium doesn’t pay writers because Stripe services are currently not available in this region. Therefore the money spent in India goes out of the country and doesn’t benefit its native writers.

In the end, should you read Medium instead of books? is not really a question of debate. If you could afford it, you should do both. But stick with books if you have to choose one. After all, they have stood strong the test of time.

This was my first Medium article. I would appreciate your feedback. You can contact me on my Twitter. Have a great time!

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