Discussion: Ebooks vs. Physical Books


Over the past decade, ebooks have risen significantly in popularity, particularly with the emergence of Barnes and Nobles’ Nook and Amazon’s Kindle.  With their constantly increasing presence in the literary community, ereaders have sparked an ongoing (and, at times, extremely heated) debate: ebooks versus physical books.

IMG_3866Ebooks are practical in the sense that they are compact and extremely lightweight (ie. the size of your ereader), allowing for easy transportation and reading on the go.  Similarly, traveling to the bookstore or library will quickly become a thing of the past as readers purchase or borrow books from bed while in pajamas (please don’t tell me I’m the only one).  Ebooks are also available at significantly reduced prices because the printing and binding stages of physical book manufacturing have been eliminated.  In some cases, particularly with classics that are now considered public domain, you can even download ebooks for free.  Also, if you want to take the eco-friendly approach, no trees were harmed in that purchase.

Physical books, on the other hand, are significantly heavier than your average ereader and tend to be more more expensive than their ebook equivalents.  Some readers, however, prefer the feeling of actually holding a book and turning the pages, as opposed to tapping and staring at an electronic screen for hours on end (which, if we’re being completely honest, can be a bit harsh on the eyes).  On the other hand, if you worry incessantly about the condition of your books, like myself, then you may be a little reluctant to transport your book from place to place, preferring to leave it at home and thus eliminating the potential for reading on the go.

Over the years, I’ve personally developed a preference for physical copies of books for a variety of reasons.  Most notably, a book will never die because it hasn’t been charged within the last 24 hours or malfunction in some frustrating manner and cause unnecessary aggravation, shortening my life by several years.  If the majority of my library is sitting on my bookshelves, I won’t have to worry about losing 300+ books should anything happen to my ereader.  For me, it’s simply not worth the stress.  Additionally, I have no worries about accidentally throwing my ereader across the room when my favorite character dies, the author is a jerk, or someone in real life is getting on my last nerve.  Plus, I get to OCD-ishly arrange the books on my shelves, arranging them in a variety of visually appealing patterns (if you’d like to read more about my bookish OCD, click here).  I also have a strange fascination with the smell of both new and old books.  Then again, I also like the smell of nail polish and whiteout, so perhaps that isn’t the best evidence to back up my argument.

Similarly, when it comes to reading for school, I am 100% devoted to physical books.  In my British Literature class last year, we were all required to read Heart of Darkness electronically on our iPads.  While I had no qualms about the price of the book as it was free, I detested highlighting and taking notes electronically.  I like to scribble all over the pages of my assigned books (as evidenced here), and making such notations in an ebook didn’t provide me with the same sense of satisfaction.  Therefore, I’ve decided to stick with the old-fashioned books, at least for the time being. Don’t even get me started on electronic textbooks – I have no clue how people stand those things.

I know what you must be thinking – if you’re so against ebooks, then why do you have an ereader?  Just because I prefer physical books does not mean that I allow my Nook to rot and decompose at the bottom of my closet.  As a matter of fact, I use it on nearly a daily basis to read free or cheap ebooks ($0.99 – $2.99).  On the occasions when I spend more than $5 on an ebook, I typically don’t plan to reread the book in the future and/or was simply too impatient to wait until my next trip to Barnes and Noble.

What about you – do you prefer ebooks or physical books? Why?

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I am a senior in high school and an avid reader/reviewer, horseback rider, and graphic designer.  Since a young age, I have fostered a love of reading, beginning with my forays into the Nancy Drew series.  I’ve branched out significantly in my reading tastes since then, and my favorite genres include young adult, romance, mystery, and thriller.  I’m constantly trying to expand my horizons, however, so I do dabble in other genres.  While I’m not reading, I volunteer at a hippotherapy center and a veterinary clinic, practice agility with my dogs, play piano, and sketch.
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7 thoughts on “Discussion: Ebooks vs. Physical Books

  1. I disagree with your point on throwing the e-reader around. I wouldn’t want to break it so I wouldn’t be able to but the book isn’t so breakable so as long as I’m alone and I have my bed, I throw it onto my bed! Plus it’s awkward to hug when your favourite character dies. I do prefer physical books just because they look and feel nicer and it’s just what I’ve always known. E readers are useful though, don’t get me wrong. I use mine occasionally when I’m on holiday but that’s about it. And even when I’m on holiday, I always bring at least one physical book with me and the kindle is for if I run out…


    • That’s true – I guess the treatment/care of ereaders really varies from reader to reader. And they definitely have a time and a place, even for those who prefer physical books. But it’s good to know I’m not the only old-fashioned reader!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to be very against e-readers. I was a traditionalist in that I wanted to feel the book in my hands. But I really did warm up to them because of the convenience and especially the desire to keep the books in better shape. I’m the kind of person who needs a book with me at all times. I commute to work and I need something to read. Having an e-reader or an app on my phone is much easier than lugging a heavy book and it keeps the book in better condition.

    But I still prefer physical. I can’t stare at an e-reader for hours and I get distracted by other things much faster. But especially with a favorite book I find I like having the physical book because I can read certain sections or chapters again and it’s easier to flip back and read something if I didn’t understand it or look something up.

    In general I think e-readers and physical books can coexist and my reading experience is better for it. I’m always reading at least two books so having one physical book and one e-book has become so natural it’s almost weird if I’m not reading both.


    • I have a feeling that once I move into college next year and recognize truly how limited space in my dorm will be, I may develop more of a dependence upon ebooks for the sake of space (eek!).

      Whenever I stare at an electronic screen for several hours on end, I manage to give myself a raging headache. And recently, I’ve had a tendency of falling asleep while reading on my ereader – oops!


  3. There was a time when I was so against ereaders. It took me forever to actually get one. But now I love it so much. The only physical books I tend to get are ones that are my favorites and that I really, really love. I read so quickly and so much that my Kindle just makes sense. When I am visiting family for two weeks over Christmas, I can read as many as five or six books. It is so much easier to have those on my Kindle so I don’t have to take up space in my suitcase.


    • Ereaders definitely make sense for going on vacation or going off to college, so I have a feeling I may develop more of a dependence upon them in the future. Hopefully it won’t be too challenging to adjust to reading almost solely on an ereader!


  4. Pingback: First Blogiversary | Brewing Up Books

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