Video or Book. What is the better medium for learning?

At a recent dinner party with some close friends, I sparked a conversation when I advised some of my younger friends to start reading a Book. As soon as I mentioned “A BOOK” an argument erupted with one of my very smart friend ‘Hassan’ making a point. He added that “I would rather watch a 5 minute book review or a summary video of any book rather than spend hours and hours on reading a thick book. It takes gigantic amount of motivation and will power to purchase at first and then even more amount of courage to open and start reading it.”

Hassan has got a valid point here and I agreed with him to some extent because I have been there myself and I knew where he was coming from. I gave my own example about how much video junkie I was infact I still am because major portion of my learning also comes from video medium. There were days in my very recent past where I instantly fell asleep while only reading one page of a book. Even that one page was hard to digest and even harder to concentrate.

See I always wanted to be a book reader I know that it is one of the most rewarding and helping hobby as we are told since our childhood. Plus when you hear people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet advocate the same thing, your claim is reasserted. So I bought several books from time to time and they were all lying on the shelves for sometime and I would never spare time to even look at the cover page let alone reading the preface or the first chapter.

Back to the dinner table, my friend Hassan had a valid point which required some pondering and since I could relate to this myself, I was much interested to dive deep into the subject. I argued that how a short summarized video can replace the value of a 5, 10, 20 or in some cases even a lifetime of research work of the author. It was getting heated up and other friends also wanted to join the fist fight. At this moment one friend sided with me and endorsed my statement. Yeah I have one vote atleast. But now it was time for another friend Umer to throw some punches. So he made a very interesting remark that “everybody has different modes of learning, some people learn from books, some might find videos to be more knowledgeable whereas some might find it by traveling and observing, whereas people like me go to mentors and leaders in their respective fields.”

Now that was something really meaningful and for a moment I thought that Umer has won the battle with this knockout blow. At this moment the conversation took interesting turn and a heated argument erupted when all five of us wanted to have our say to respond to Umer’s philosophical rapid fire. But remember I had one vote and how can I give up so easily so I decided to use my nuclear bomb which I was certain would devastate the whole conversation and I will reign supreme. I cleared my throat asked everyone to shut up as I was about to drop the bomb they could not survive.

I said “there is a reason why the first revelation of Quran starts with a word ‘READ’, I rest my case.” I thought after listening to this daleel (reasoning), the argument would be settled in my favor and they would lay down their weapons. But I was dead wrong, they all had to counter strike me, even a deleel so heavy couldn’t convince them to agree with me. My friends are arrogant nuts, very hard to crack but I love them.


Suddenly I noticed that our table felt like a struggling startup partner’s meeting room where everybody was trying to emphasis their point of view over others. Everyone around us at this calm seaside restaurant was staring at us and this was the time when I felt like the waiter is just standby to intervene and say “Gentlemen, please keep your voices low and please don’t fight over here, this crockery is Italian made.”

One of the friends was smart enough to come up with an idea to keep the conversation going in a reasonable manner without bothering the people on next table, so he grabbed a straw and pretended it as a mic, now whoever holds the mic gets to talk and everyone else will have to listen. But this Oxfordly manner of debating proved to be the conversation killer as we enjoy talks that are raw, loud and rough. Anyways the food arrived and we had to call it off. The conversation ended without any decisive winner because the aroma of a smoky hot steak just acted like a water of fire.

BUT I was hooked to find the right answer whether a book or a video? Which one is better medium? What are their pros and cons? These few questions bothered me to do a bit of research. Coming from the marketing background I had to find some figures and draw a comparison of the two of most prolific learning mediums in the history of mankind. It was hard to find data

1. How many books are published  


As per the available data by UNESCO

New book titles published this year:

2162240 (and counting)

Roughly 5,000 new titles are launched on Amazon daily.

How many videos are uploaded on youtube  


The total number of people who use YouTube – 1,300,000,000. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. In an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube.

2. What type of books are most popular  


In todays digital age the books are only available in printed formats but users have access to e-books and audiobooks too.

But Print books continue to be most popular.

According to Statistica, the most popular genre in the U.S. is Mystery/Thriller/Crime books. Nearly half of their respondents said they had read books in this genre in 2015. This was followed by Romance, which nearly a third (27%) had read.

Whats the most popular channel on youtube  


According to business insider, No. 1: PewDiePie — 60.4 million subscribers with 2017 estimated salary: $12 million.

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is a boisterous Swedish video game commentator whose videos feature him playing various video games, while a box in the top corner of the screen shows his reactions to what’s happening. His YouTube account has over 60 million followers.


3. Whats the bestselling book (non religious)  


Having sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Whats the most watched video on Youtube  


“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (l) featuring Daddy Yankee (r) is the most viewed video on YouTube, with over 5.6 billion views as of October 2018. (Source: Wikipedia)




Above figures are astonishing and it would be foolish to turn a blind eye to the power and potential of video content in the coming years. Whether it be books or videos the data shows that most of the people turn to these mediums for entertainments purposes rather than for learning intentions. When it comes to books the thriller novels and fictional romantic stories seems to be major attractions for readers whereas for videos, the music and gaming videos prove to be the most dominant ones.


Not enough people read, although I am aware that people want to read more just like me. Reading requires attention and focus, but in today’s world we have so many distractions and also stuff gets in the way of our busy lives. People don’t set aside specific time for reading. It’s a sad reality, but TV and videos are much easier to absorb and easier to access and also it doesn’t require concentration and deep thinking much of the time.


I would close this article by a self-confession that I have been watching all kinds of video content, hours and hours of it, on YouTube. No doubt I learned a lot from it and it still is and will be my go to platform for quick and easy learning. But after reading just one book with concentration from cover to cover I have noticed immense change in my thinking patterns and creative sense. Apparently, the habit of reading books creates mental engagement that improves thinking skills, vocabulary, and concentration. Videos may be the new and upcoming way of storing our history, preserving our culture, or just spreading ones message but one just cannot ignore the POWER OF WRITTEN WORDS.


You won’t gain the freedom you seek from knowledge

You desire the book and not the knowledge within it



Allama Iqbal