Discussion: eBook vs. Print Books

It seems like the eBook vs. Print Books debate is growing in popularity and it’s starting to remind me of the age old Great Toilet Paper debate. You know Over vs. Under?

Anyway, it seems like I’m having this discussion more and more, especially since I work at a bookstore. Older readers are getting more and more into eReaders, some reluctantly while others freely embrace them. While readers of my generation, GenXers, seem to have lovingly embraced from the beginning. And then there are the Millennials in which everything is electronic and try to take it away from them. Most of the questions I get from Millennials after they inquire about a book is, ‘Can I download it on my eReader?’ It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer a print book. Why?

Why I prefer Print books

  • I like holding a book in my hands
  • I like turning the pages
  • I like seeing the progress I’ve made. How much I’ve read. How much I have left.
  • I feel like I retain what I read more
  • I feel more connected to the story

Why I like eBooks

I hear a lot of people cite convenience as a reason for reading eBooks vs Print books, but I don’t find them any more convenient. Well, maybe that’s not wholly true. There is some level of convenience. If you’re travelling and there is no bookstore and of course if it’s one of those dastardly eBook only books.

In college I became a lover of eBooks. As a Literature major not having to lug around all those Dickens books or Emerson or Twain or any individual author books was awesome. It was bad enough I had to lug around on any given day two anthologies and notebooks, but then to play Tetris with a bunch of mass market paperback books. A puzzle that never got put together properly.

Why I don’t like eBooks

It’s simple really. They’re not print books.

  • I don’t like swiping my finger to ‘turn’ a page
  • I don’t like not being able to physically measure progress. I know some eBooks give tell you how far you’ve come percentage wise, but as I said earlier I like to touch that progress
  • It’s something about reading on a computer screen after you’ve spent all day at work on a computer

I didn’t mention Audiobooks here because I don’t hear as many visceral reactions to them. I know there are some people out there that don’t feel that they constitute as reading, but that is complete and utter HOKUM.

People I meet seem to be of the mindset, ‘I can take them or leave them.’ During holiday travel there is usually an uptick in audiobook purchases.

And I will tell you that audiobooks got me through a Shakespeare class.

Oh, and by the way, I like the toilet paper hang under.

13 thoughts on “Discussion: eBook vs. Print Books

  1. Okay, first off, you’re totally wrong about the toilet paper. Sorry. LOL!

    I don’t have a huge preference of ebooks or print books, but I think I still favor print (though sometimes it depends on my mood). I can’t get my teenage kids to TOUCH an ebook, though. It’s print all the way for them.

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  2. I prefer print books because I can collect them in my shelves and look at them all pretty and perfect, and also because all the reasons you listed. However, I have recently been getting more into ebooks because a) I can get them for free on netgalley, which is great, b) I can read more comfortably in bed because it’s easier to hold a phone than a 400 page hardcopy over your face, and c) I don’t have to have my light on if I’m reading at 3am, so I’m not bothering anyone.

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  3. I keep reading ebook sales are levelling off so I’m surprised people keep having this debate. It seems to me that both have pros and cons and you would simply choose one or the other based on if you need to travel with a bunch of books, how you prefer to take notes, etc.

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    • Hi Krysta, you would think this would be a non-issue but there is the tactile argument of having a physical book vs. an eBook and I think that’s a big piece. Now I do prefer to travel with my eReader just because I can put a bunch of books on it an go, but at the same time I’ve been known to ship a few books to and from my destination. I know it’s silly, but I justify it by saying media mail is not that expensive and it’s worth having a hard copy.

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  4. OVER. Always over. lol. These days I definitely prefer print books. I like holding them in my hands, feeling their weight, turning pages, the smell! But I’ve had two babies in the last 4 years and my kindle was a lifesaver! All those nights of getting up to feed the baby and all I had was one hand, so I read a LOT of books on my kindle. But these days my kids are more self-sufficient and I find that it’s easier to read a physical book. It’s a LOT harder to fit in audiobooks, though. lol. I do still use my kindle for certain library books. And it is handy for when we’re out and about in the car all day – especially when I’m reading lots of big and heavy books!

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    • Oh Kristiln, I throw my hands up. I had an ex-boyfriend tell me my toilet paper was on wrong, so he took the liberty of switching to over. The nerve! I can see how your kindle was a life saver, but I will stand at the top of the tallest mountain and shout the benefits of a print book. And oh my gosh the smell. I love the smell of books. There’s a used bookstore I go to and every time I go in, I take a deep breath, Books smell wonderful, even when they’re old and musty.

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  5. I prefer print to ebooks. I work on a computer all day and e-readers seem like work to me. The other reason I like print books over ebooks it the ablity to share or trade them in. I have several people that I do book excanges with e-books do not allow for that. That being said I have e-readers for travel, it is much easire then luggging about a suitcase full of books.

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  6. I remember when I discovered ebooks I was ECSTATIC because I could carry ALL THESE books with me everywhere but now I feel just like you Erica. EBooks have been to blame for my worst reading slumps Now I only do eARCs because I can’t get books from NetGalley any other way. Everything else is either physical book or audio book. Great post 🙂

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    • Oh my gosh Daniela, I have an ARC right now that I’m struggling with because it’s an eARC. It’s actually good, but I can’t read more than a couple of chapters at a time. I wish NetGalley had an option for print or eARC. I know it’s the publisher. Digital copies are cheaper. I’m convinced if I had a hard copy of the galley I’m reading I would have been done by now.

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  7. I read my (1400+) ebooks for the most part on my laptop computer, where I can increase the type size and the background/typeface colors to minimize eye strain. I’m in my 70s, now, and having increasing problems with small print and glare, not to mention sensitivity to ink and bleached paper. Additionally, I am overjoyed to discover that many of my favorite SF novels from my grade-school days, which were handed off to five younger siblings when I left for college and then lived for decades in small apartments, are being reissued as epubs. I am reacquiring much of my former library.

    That being said, we actually do not have more room in our house for physical books.

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    • I like being able to change the font & background color on my eReader. My mother recently said to me that soon there won’t be enough room in my room for me because I have so many books. Having them digitally is definitely a plus. I’m sure that if I preferred eReaders that my library would be a lot bigger, but since I have limited space it precludes me from buying a lot of books.

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      • Limited space is a definite difficulty. When my husband and I are dead and gone, whoever’s stuck with clearing the house will have to rent a lot of dumpsters. ::sigh:: I’ve been reading steadily since age 5. Happy that I enjoy rereading favorites. LOL. Gotta love it. Wouldn’t want to change it.

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