Blast from the past: “eBooks or Printed media, which is best for a Survival Library?”

Hello my friend and welcome back! Today I have a blast from the past for you and I would really like to hear you thoughts on it.  eBooks or Printed media?  This is a subject that seems to come up a lot especially with newer Preppers.  They want to build a survival library, but are not sure where to start or which type is the best.  In this article, we will look at the Pros and Cons of each and discuss which is better and why.  Grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.

ELECTRONIC   Most people now days have laptops or tablets around the house and they can usually be purchased for very little if you do not get the top of the line.  There are also many eBook formats available and applications for reading them.  I personally have two favorites: Kindle and PDF as these seem to be the two most popular formats.  There is an amazingly  large amount of Survival books available for little or no cost on the internet.  I actually have over 200 books on kindle and probably just as many on PDF.  This has allowed me to amass a large amount of information on survival techniques as well as Self Defense and Tactical.  Now let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of eBooks.


  • Computer – You need a tablet or computer of some type to be able to read them. This also means that you will need a way to charge the devices and in an SHTF situation, that may be hard to come by.
  • Compatibility – Another drawback is that you may not have access to the application needed to read a particular format. There are quite a few out there.
  • Weather – Another concern is that if you are working outside, you could have problems seeing the screen or if the weather is bad then you could ruin your device if it were to get wet.
  • Breakage – Something else to consider is that if you were to drop the device or ruin it, you would lose your entire library of books.


  • Cost – is the biggest in my mind.  There are many free and low-cost books available online.
  • Availability –  of books on the internet,  there are literally thousands of books available.
  • Space – is always a key concern when prepping.  You can literally store thousands of books on a thumb drive or on your device.
  • Sharing – is also very important.  If you are part of a group, more than one person may need to have access to a book at the same time. Many are now DMR free so sharing is easy.
  • Printing – You can also print many eBooks for use later, provided you have access to a printer and the Author allows it.

Note:  If you do decide to use eBooks then I would suggest that you make multiple copies and store them on thumb drives in a safe place such as a Faraday Cage. I keep one thumb drive in my Prep’s, one at my house,  One in my bug out bag and one around my neck at all times.  In this way, when something happens, I’m sure to have one available. The ones I keep in my bags and at my house are stored in Mylar bags and folded multiple times just as an extra precaution.  Don’t forget to update them each month so they all contain the same information

PAPER  Many of us have collected vast numbers of Paperback books over the years.  There is something special about paper books when you touch them.  It’s almost like you can feel the knowledge oozing from the book and that feeling of excitement that you felt as a child about to begin a wonderful journey. They are magical and it is something that eBooks just can’t duplicate.  I love them!  Unfortunately they too have their Pros and Cons, so let’s take a look at those.


  • Weight – First and foremost is their weight.  It doesn’t take long for It to add up and if you are traveling, it can quickly become a big issue.  A large library could be impossible to manage in a bug out  situation.
  • Cost –  Paper books can be very expensive to buy.  They usually cost several times more than the electronic version.  A person could spend several thousand dollars on paper books and still not have all they need.
  • Space –  Paper back books can easily take up a large amount of space.  In a bug out situation this is very bad as space is a premium when you are traveling.
  • Sharing – If more than one person needs the book at the same time then you have a problem.  There is just no way around it unless you pack copies and that would create a whole new set of issues for the above reasons.
  • Weather – If the book gets wet it could easily be ruined.


  •   Electricity – No need for electricity at all.  they are completely self-contained.
  •   Breakage – Whether you are in a building or out in the forest dropping them has no effect unless you drop them in the water.

 Conclusion: As you can see from the lists above, eBooks appear to be the clear winner.  However the final decision is up to you.  Personally, I say why not both?  As I mentioned before, I have hundred of books of both types, however I do make a few distinctions.  My paper books are books that will primarily be used outside i.e. Construction, Tanning of hides, etc..  In other words books I would need handy while working outside. Other books I include in this group are book that I could not afford to lose such as First Aid and Natural Remedies.  You wouldn’t want to be waiting for a laptop to boot up while a friend is bleeding out.

Whatever you choose, remember to balance need with weight and space and you will be fine.  Something else to consider when selecting you books for your survival library is to include some books for entertainment.  Just imagine being stuck indoors in the winter with no Internet and nothing but educational books to read.  That would make for a very long winter!

1Well, I hope this article has at least given you something to think about and hopefully a few ideas on preparing your Survival  Library.  Please leave your comments below and let me know if you have any more suggestions or thoughts on Survival Libraries.  Until next time, stay safe, stay strong, and stay prepared.  God Bless America!


6 thoughts on “Blast from the past: “eBooks or Printed media, which is best for a Survival Library?””

  1. AA always, Sarge, clear and concise information that rings true. Like you mentioned, I have a mix of both paper and electronic copies of various publications. Unlike you, however, I haven’t made quite as many copies for storage on thumb drives but since you mentioned why, I can see me upping the quantity for good measure.
    Not being terribly tech savvy I wonder if there is a way to download information on of thumb drive to, say, a blank Kindle?
    Oh, and not just a basic Kindle like the Paperwhite, either. Something like the Fire model which allows you to see and have photos would be MOST helpful if you wanted to see if the stitching on a gashed arm looked “right.”
    The Paperwhite doesn’t allow that option.
    Thanks again for the article.
    I continue to learn something new from all your posts!

    • Huggy, If you download your Kindle books to a folder on your computer (Not Kindle), then you should be able to copy and paste them to a thumb drive. Look in your documents folder and there should be one called Kindle I would think. 🙂

      • Sarge, thanks for the suggestion. I hadn’t even considered that option. I just assumed when I downloaded a book it went into some “file” where I could retrieve it.
        I shall create a specific folder for the books now.
        Thanks again, Pardner.

  2. E-Books are great to a point. I have used a Kindle for several years because I can store thousands of books on a small device. It’s easy to use, reliable and available for use day or night. However, the greatest con for electronics is that they are susceptible to EMP, power outages, breakage, etc. A kindle or computer without power is simply an expensive paper weight. Consequently, I use hard copies for survival/prepping reference information. I also have a small hard back copies of some of my favorite novels and books for my reading pleasure should electrical power not be available.

  3. I have a combination of resources (in-print and ebooks) but I also have a folder where I have made my own references. I find articles online and will print and add to the folder.

    I prefer ebooks- all in one place, no bookcase required and not heavy
    But something about having a book in hand, guess I’m old school that way, is best for the instance of an EMP as I do not have a Faraday cage to protect the electronic devices and information.

    The cost difference is astounding too. Anywhere from free to a few dollars for ebooks versus a minimum of perhaps $10 for an in-print book. Since I am quite frugal, husband says I’m cheap, ebooks are the way for me.

    After weighing options I vote for ebooks and guess I need to start looking into a Faraday cage and charging system.


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