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Physical Book or eBook, Which Do You Prefer?

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There is no denying the immense rise in popularity of eBooks over the past five years or so. Devices such as the Kindle have helped to make books so much more accessible than before, but at what cost?

In contrast to eBooks’ popularity there has been so much doom and gloom surrounding the state of the printed book, some of which may be a little over-hyped, but does help to highlight the point nevertheless. The UK Guardian newspaper printed an article recently which stated that sales of printed books fell by £74 million in 2012, which was actually an improvement on 2011, but still a significant fall. These types of reports seem to echo all over the world as more and more people seem to abandon the physical book in favor of the electronic versions.

While printed books are far from dead, I am admittedly a little saddened by their apparent coming demise. This is certainly not because I am old fashioned and have a dislike of technology, I love technology. In fact, I am usually one of the first people to rush out to get my hands on the latest shiny gadget, but when it comes to enjoying a good book I do not think the experience can be replicated with an electronic device.

The “physical book vs eBook” debate is a widely contested one with the younger generation of readers being more inclined to side with the e-Reader. They are of course growing up in a world that has been taken over by electronic gadgetry, and things that purport to make life easier. This generation mainly sees physical books as cumbersome and not very convenient when compared to the highly portable eBook readers. What doesn’t help is the fact that the joys of reading a physical book cannot be easily translated to someone who hasn’t had the experience, except to say that it’s just a different feeling — or a different experience.

Personally I enjoy picking up a book simply because I spend most of my days staring at screens anyway. Between my laptop, my phone, and my television I am completely screened out by the end of the day. Burying my head in a good book is a welcome relief for my eyes and my brain. I fear that if I were to begin reading all my books on an eBook reader, then reading would not really feel like something I do in my downtime.

It feels very difficult to argue on the side of physical books without sounding like an old fogey, but that is a risk I am now prepared to take. I am on the side of the printed book, what side are you on?

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About Chris Clayton

Chris Clayton is a freelance writer who helps online businesses with all aspects of their content marketing strategy, from developing that initial strategy to producing a variety of different content. He has been involved in the content writing business for just over three years now and already has a nce list of happy clients under his belt. You can find out more about Chris and the content writing services he offers over at his site - Writer Effect
  • Libraries are magical places.

  • I agree that the experience of reading a physical book cannot be replicated with an e-device! For the reason alone that you stated about staring at screens all the time; but also because it is more pro-active to hold a book and turn its pages…feels much more personable and in the moment! I have yet to purchase an e-reader, because I don’t need another device that adds to the robotic state of the world…and I also don’t want to worry about more technical hassles when I can simply enjoy a printed book and let that be that!

  • I use to be a fan of analogue books, but not anymore. I mostly buy academic ebooks online. Now I enjoy not having to wait for the couriers, or even worse braving a shopping mall filled with brain dead shoppers. Ebooks usually cost a bit less than the paper version.

    Knowing that my purchase did not support killing a few trees results in that warm fuzzy feeling 🙂

    I prefer buying ebooks from O’Reilly Media due to their no DRM (Digital Rights Management) policy. No hassles with certificates or platform dependence.

  • I can see the argument from both sides, especially when trees are brought into the equation.

    I also hate going out to a shopping mall, but there is something quite exciting about ordering a book online and waiting for it to be delivered in the mail. That satisfaction is another thing that is lacking with eBooks I think.

    Anyway thank you all for your input. Whether online of offline, it is a good feeling to have people reading what you have written.

  • Echo

    I do respect books as they transmitted and storred knoledge for thousands of years. But I am on the side of the e reader, not only beacouse I’m kind of a techno geek but beacouse e books are much more practical and ergonomical. An 32 GB sd card can hold more than 15 000 pages of text. Also I personally like the fact that I can change the font syze on a screen wich is easyer for the eye. Plus if people who can’t afford books want to read a book they can search a free vresion online (No, this doesn’t reduce the income of the writer as the poor guy who didn’t aforded the book wouldn’t have bought it and the people who can afford the book usually don’t go thru the frustration of searching a free copy online).

    PS. You said in the ending that after a day of staring into screens you like reading text on paper. Most e readers don’t use screens(display that emits light) but rather they use electronic paper(display that reflects light just like traditional paper).

  • Brian

    The one thing I don’t like about digital books and other digital information the power going out. If there is no electricity there is no book. Another thing, if someone wanted to take control over all information and keep it for themselves and not share it, nobody would know what took place in our era. Real books All day long for me.

    • awesmeman

      The Kindles have a 2+ week Battery, that’s a long power outage

  • Steven Harte

    I prefer reading a printed book. I like the tactility of the pages which feels more natural to me. I also have a better sense of where I am in a physical book and can flip to the index or TOC much easier without losing my place. And some printed books are gorgeous with full color artwork, excellent typography and superior paper.

    However, e-readers have some great advantages. Whereas printed books may have yellowing pages, bindings that fall apart or unsightly smudges and ugly underlinings, e-readers preserve the text with none of these drawbacks. If I can, I buy both printed and electronic versions of my favorite books to combine the advantages of both.

    One thing I hope in the future for electronic books is that the typography greatly improves. Since many electronic book layouts combine justified text with no hyphenation, the consequent typography can look downright ugly, especially at larger font sizes. I guess I have been forever ruined as a graphic designer who has had to study rules of typography. It takes me a bit of time to ignore the utilitarian typographical look of a lot of electronic books.

  • Carlos

    I am not a reader at all. The only thing I can say is that I hate to read on a screen. Your eyes get tired so easily. Will try to get more away from this brightness. Very good opinion of yours which I agree with.

  • Natasha Berks

    You don’t limit your senses when you physically make your way to a bookshop. You get to See, touch, smell, interact and discover something you never knew was written. Books find us sometimes and it’s wonderful to let that happen instead of knowing what you want every time.