Discussion: eBooks vs. Physical Books

Ah… the age-old debate. Is this an overdone topic? Probably. But I wanted to share with you all the reasons why I like and dislike both eBooks and physical books, so I’m writing on the topic anyway.

I’m pretty new to the world of eBooks. Just after Christmas (and about three weeks after I started my Tumblr book blog), I decided to buy myself a Kindle. I’ll be honest – I used to be one of those people who was super stubborn and would say that I had no interest in an e-reader or eBooks in general because it wasn’t the “real thing.” (I was stupid, I know, but let’s just ignore that for now.) But I also knew that you could get great deals on books by buying the eBook version rather than a paperback or hardcover and that there are tons of free eBooks for you to download as well. I also noticed that it was much easier to get review copies as a newbie blogger if you accepted digital copies. So I bought a Kindle.

I honestly use it a lot more than I thought I would. I thought I would only really use it for the occasional review copy and while I do primarily read eARCs on my Kindle, I also have downloaded tons of free books and bought a few books that I’ve been wanting to read that had great deals.

However, I still prefer physical copies. I’m not quite sure what it is about physical books. I think part of it is just that I like seeing the books on my shelf (or more accurately, scattered throughout my dorm). It’s so much more satisfying than looking through my Kindle’s library. Another thing that is admittedly a huge plus for me is that if someone asks me what I’m reading, I don’t have to actually answer them – I can just hold up my book and they can look for themselves (nearly every time my boss sees me reading, she asks what book it is).

Here are some other pros and cons of each that factor into my opinions of them:

eBooks

Pros:

  • They’re much easier to carry, especially when travelling, and much lighter to carry.
  • You can have a lot of books available to read without them taking up a lot of space (a big plus for me, as I live in a small dorm for most of the year).
  • They’re cheaper than physical copies.
  • They’re easier to hold comfortably. I can lie on my side in bed and still easily read from my Kindle, but I can’t do that with a physical copy.
  • You can easily adjust the text size to make it easier for you to read. I don’t ever really do this, but for people who don’t have good vision this could absolutely be a helpful feature.
  • You can highlight/make notes without actually writing in the book.

Cons:

  • You can strain your eyes if you read for too long. Yes, this can be a problem with physical books, but electronics tend to strain your eyes more quickly and worse (at least in my experience).
  • You can’t easily tell how much is left in a book/how long a book is. You have percentages, but 80% means vastly different things for a book that’s 200 pages and a book that’s 800 pages. You may know you only have 20% left to read, but is that 40 pages or 140? The same thing goes for individual chapters too.
  • You have to keep your device charged to be able to read.
  • Sometimes eBook retailers remove editions from their store and from your device and then you’re out of luck, despite the fact that you paid for it. I honestly had no idea this was a thing, but BookRiot recently posted an article about it.

Physical books

Pros:

  • You can lend them to or borrow them from friends.
  • You can resell/trade/donate them if and when you no longer want them.
  • You can easily flip back to the beginning or end to look at things like maps, glossaries, etc. or just to flip back to something that happened earlier to remind yourself of it when it’s mentioned later.
  • You can arrange them on your shelves however you want.
  • It’s often easier to read books that may have illustrations/photographs or different formatting. I remember seeing a few people say that Illuminae was much easier to read as a physical copy than an eBook for this reason.
  • You can use bookmarks! Yes, I’m including this as a real pro. I have lots of bookmarks that I love and want to use, but they’re useless to me if I’m reading eBooks.

Cons:

  • You can lend them to friends. Yes, I’m listing this as a con too – some friends don’t take good care of books or you may just not want to lend them out!
  • They can be bulky and awkward to hold.
  • If you want to read in the dark, you need to use a book light. I personally hate book lights – I find them very annoying and they get in the way.
  • The more you read them, the more damaged they’re likely to become.

As you can tell, I’m pretty evenly spread with likes and dislikes between the two. For me, it mostly comes down to personal preference. I just prefer to read physical copies. What about you? Do you prefer one over the other? Do you agree/disagree with any of the points I’ve brought up? Do you have any to add?

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13 thoughts on “Discussion: eBooks vs. Physical Books

  1. I just did a post about this topic too. I’m mostly anti-ebook, even though I have a Nook (I hate my Nook). I like the idea of e-books/e-readers, having all your books in one place all the time but I also love looking at my bookshelves, being able to pull a book out and touch the pages. I’d say lending books to a friend is a con though, haha, I leant out my Shiver series to a friend a few months ago and she hasn’t even started them. I’m thinking if Amazon has a black Friday deal on the Kindle like last year, I’m going to get one then. We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, I might need to do that. I made her leave the dust jackets so I would remember she has then. I’ve only leant out books twice, the other time an ex boyfriend had my hardback copy of the third Hunger Games book for over a year. He finally returned it. The more I think about it, the more appealing an e-reader is looking. lol. Then I don’t feel bad for saying that someone can’t borrow a book.

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      • Hahaha I haven’t lent many books out either because I don’t have that many friends IRL who like to read, but when I do I get kind of paranoid that they’re going to get lost or ruined. So not being able to lend ebooks is a definite plus for me haha

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  2. I switched to ebooks over a year ago, and I love them for all of the reasons you mentioned. Nice post! If they’re lending eligible on Amazon, you can also lend them to a friend, which is nice. I’ve lent 3 books to my friend in France, and it’s worked out good. And Amazon automatically pulls them off their kindle after two weeks so you won’t run into issues of not being able to get your books back. Not all publishers allow this, but it’s still a nice option to have. I was thinking about buying more physical books to build up my library, and I wanted to take more pictures to use for blog headers and Instagram. I’m still debating over this one.

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  3. I’m like you! I love my Nook, but I love physical books more! The nice thing about my e-reader is that it lists pages, not percentages, so I don’t really have that struggle of knowing how much of the book is left. Although, of course I know the Nook company isn’t doing as well as Amazon, financially, so there’s always that fear in the back of my mind that B&N could close Nook, and I might lose all my ebooks. 😬 Although, if that were to ever happen, I would hope they would give us at least some sort of compensation.

    You never have to deal with any of those problems with physical books though! My biggest worry for them is spending all my money on expensive hardbacks and running out of room. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would hope B&N would give you compensation or at least let you download the files as pdfs or something so you could still read them on another device.

      I totally understand the worries about spending all your money haha I have no self-control when it comes to books!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I went through a phase of only reading ebooks a few years ago, then I suddenly stopped and now I can’t stand them. I have no idea what actually happened in my brain, I just all of a sudden decided that I hate ebooks haha. I do see the pros of reading digitally, but it’s not for me. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love buying physical copies of books, but I prefer reading on my Kindle. I totally get the appeal of actual books and I’m trying to get back into reading them because I can’t remember the last time I read an actual physical book. I love my Kindle because it’s not always easy for me to get certain books where I live and I’m a very impatient person, haha. I love that with my Kindle I can read new releases the moment they go on sale. Ebooks are just so much more convenient for me! I think my background in digital media and love for everything tech-y plays a huge part in it too. That said, it doesn’t stop me from having a serious book buying problem though 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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