Paperback vs eBook

Every time I am offered the choice between buying a book in paperback or ebook form, I have a really hard time making the decision.  It’s a really interesting time in media/publishing right now.  When someone writes a book, it is published in about 5 or 6 different formats versus the traditional 1.  We are in between print and electronic media.  Print is almost dead, but not yet, and electronic media is definitely taking over the industry.  It’s hard to make the choice for a number of reasons…

Printed Books


  • The battery never dies on a paperback
  • It’s easier to read in bed, in the bathtub, or at the pool or beach without fear of getting water on your ipad
  • Paper books are more tangible.  If a book is sitting on your desk, bookshelf, or is in your hands, people can see it and it starts a whole conversation.  If you are reading your ipad or kindle, no one can tell what you are reading and if it’s just facebook or if you are reading Catcher in the Rye, which happens to be their favorite book of all time.
  • You can easily lend it to someone, which I love to do, even if I may not always get them back.  Lending books is a great way to share experiences with friends or family and have conversations.  Rather than saying, “well it’s a great book, you should download it” and then the chances of them remembering to do it are slim.
  • I love the smell of old books
  • Bookstores – one of my favorite things in life is to casually peruse a bookstore.  I love   reading and just being able to walk around and read the titles and book jackets of books to chose the ones I want to read and find out about new books is a fun way to spend an afternoon.  (I could spend upwards of 3 hours in a barnes & noble – and have done it on numerous occasions).  There is also another conversation that will be missed if you buy all your books in an online store – chatting with a store clerk.   Used bookstores also fall into this category and will be completely extinct because of ebooks.
  • Being able to write/highlight/flag passages or pages in a book.  I am constantly underlining, writing in the margins, highlighting, and flagging pages of books.  I don’t just read them, I study them.  Sure some ereaders have these features, but it’s just not the same.
  • Easier on the eyes
  • I’ve always wanted a library in my home similar to the one in Beauty and the Beast with the floor to ceiling ladder on wheels.
  • When you are on a plane and they tell everyone to shut off their electronic devices, you can keep reading. haha, naner naner boo boo.


  • Having a ton of paper books is heavy, takes up space, and is annoying to have to move
  • They could get ripped, wet, burned, or in some other way destroyed
  • Easier to lose
  • More expensive
  • You need a lamp or light to be able to read it



  • Cheaper
  • Convenient – if you buy a book on iBooks on your iPad, it’s automagically on your iPhone as well so you can read it on either device whenever and wherever you go.
  • Lighter – actually doesn’t weight anything more than the weight of the device(s) that I already carry around everywhere I go.
  • Has it’s own back light so you don’t need a lamp or reading light.
  • Novelty/app features – It’s cool to be able to read a book electronically and swipe through pages, change the font size, background color, etc.


  • Basically that you can’t do any of the pros of printed books
  • If you don’t already have an eReader or iPad, you have to buy a device to read it on

I have both printed books and ebooks and love them both for different reasons, but for some reason I am more drawn to printed books because they just offer a more personalized experience that allows for all kinds of conversations to start.  Someday, my grandkids are going to think I’m so cool for having real books.  Books will be the new records.  People will collect them and hipster kids will think they’re cool for having a vintage or throwback paperback book.  They’ll always be my preferred format for reading.

Which format do you prefer?

7 thoughts on “Paperback vs eBook

  1. Wilma,

    I have a really hard time with audio books. I should’ve mentioned those here as well. The main problems I have with audio books are:
    – If I don’t like the narrator’s voice, it will drive me crazy through the whole book
    – I can’t really multi-task while reading. Driving is about the only thing I can do while listening to a book. I too want to take notes while reading which is difficult.
    – I often like to re-read passages, and it gets annoying to have to rewind all the time.

  2. I just got an ereader and will admit that I love it, but I also adore paper books. I go to the library all the time and I read more books in physical form than on my ereader. There are also some books that I would dislike having on ereader, like a comic book, dictionary, or even a short story collection. Anything that I like to flip through, really.

    While I really do like my nook, I still have a lot of print books and will continue to buy them from time to time.

  3. Amberskyef,

    You’re right about reading while laying in bed being easier with a tablet. I use my iPad with the keyboard to prop it up when I’m reading or watching a show in bed. It is easier than holding up a book. But I do both.

  4. Marcy,
    So true! I forgot to mention libraries! Libraries fall under the same category of the bookstore experience to me. Walking through the aisles, looking at the books on the shelves, talking to the librarians about books or getting help researching something – these are all elements of an experience that are missing from ebookstores.

  5. Great post! I think you are right about the values of print and electronic books. I like both formats. My vote for favorite goes to printed books though. Also don’t forget about libraries where you can find both print and electronic materials for free. Libraries should be in the top ten list of public services that communities provide. EBooks are very popular at the library. You can select a title from an online catalog, choose a device to download it to and start reading. All you need is a free library card.

  6. I prefer “real books.” Like you, I like to touch, turn back pages, highlight, and make notes. For me, they are more concrete. recently, I bought an audio version of a book so I could “read” in the car on long drives. I did like listening, but often I wanted to stop, underline what was just said, make a note to myself but, of course, could not. Call me old fashioned, but I like to touch my books and have my books touch me.

  7. Well, I like the novelty of a paperback, but I prefer e-book because I can lay or sit in whatever position I want and don’t have to use two hands to hold the pages down. In fact, I don’t have to use any hands at all because I have the Microsoft Surface with he kickstand and so I can prop it on my lap or prop it beside me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s