EreadersBooks

E-readers vs physical books — the competition for dominant success among traditionally printed books and various electronic reader tablets is an ongoing debate. Some argue that printed books will never go out of style; others believe the future of books belongs to the e-reader.

There’s reason to believe printing physical books encourages readers to reminisce in old-fashioned reading. Conversely, there are those who firmly believe e-readers and their tablet counterparts are the preferred method of reading in our new, increasingly digital era.

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Before you make a snap judgment, consider the positive and negative attributes of each reading method, as physical books and e-readers can be equally useful in today’s digital age.


E-Readers vs Physical Books

Physical Books

PROS

CONS

Romanticism: there’s something extraordinarily romantic about turning the crispy pages of a physical book.

Mass: physical books have a heavy weight that must be considered when carrying around or traveling with printed texts.

Aroma: printed books have an anticipated odor; a uniquely musty scent that offers many readers
comfort, reminding them of old libraries and bookstores.

Capriciousness: physical books can be somewhat unreliable, given that bookstores cannot guarantee that a book is in stock at a particular time.

Physicality: printed books are real and tangible, allowing readers to crack the spine of a fresh book.

Expenditure: physical books tend to be priced at a high rate, given the cost to publish and print books on countless sheets of paper.

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E-Readers

PROS

CONS

Space: one of the biggest perks about e-readers is how much space each model contains. E-readers can typically hold 1,500+ books on just one device!

Display: e-readers come with LED backlight display screens, which allow readers to read even in complete darkness. However, e-readers are not practical methods for reading in direct sunlight, as it can be difficult to see the text.

Efficiency: readers can download books online in just 30 seconds, without the hassle of combing through bookstores in search of a book that
may be out of stock.

Expenditure: the initial cost of investing in an e-reader starts around $140+. Unfortunately, this opening price does deter readers from purchasing e-readers, even though e-books can range from $0-$25.

Eco-friendly: though there’s proof that e-readers and printed texts both have environmental benefits and drawbacks, for the most part e-readers are more eco-friendly as they do not require excess paper and ink distribution.

Non-transferable: some e-readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle, allow a reader to send their book to a fellow Kindle owner for a two week span. More often than not, though, electronic books cannot be lent as printed books can.


Both e-readers and physical books each have noticeable pros and cons, however, neither reading method is dominant over the other.

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What matters is reader’s preference. For instance, I prefer printed textbooks because I can physically highlight key terms and write notes for studying purposes. However, I use my e-reader for pleasurable reading, as I can carry hundreds of e-books on my iPad wherever I go.

For additional information, refer to the engaging article “Are e-readers making books obsolete” by Colleen Cancio. Cancio includes more in-depth research on this topic, which is conducted by BBC News, IMS, The Wall Street Journal, and Amazon.

Do you prefer e-books or physical books?