A Great Debate: E-Book or Paperback–Which Do You Prefer?

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And we were having this discussion last night… I do enjoy reading on my Kindle – but if pushed probably still prefer a brand new book – I’m addicted to the smell of new pages… What about you?

Write of Passage

ebook-vs-printI used to work with a girl who never bought books–NEVER bought books.

Before you light your torches and sharpen your pitchforks I should probably mention she does READ books–she reads all the time; however, she only reads e-books, and only if they are free.

I’ve known people on both sides of the spectrum: those who only read e-books (old coworker) and those who only read paperbacks (my mother).

I’m sure most of you, like me, fall somewhere in the middle.

My personal philosophy: It doesn’t matter as long as you read.

Let me make a confession: I was once one of those people who used to touch, dust, and eye-caress my paperbacks, swearing to them I’d never betray them by downloading an e-book. Yeah, well I also swore I’d never join Facebook and twitter, so . . . (cough, cough)

Life changes and so do we. Granted, I didn’t buy my first e-book until last year…

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6 responses »

  1. Both. I love kindle and iBooks on my iPad and devour books on it most of the time. But I do still buy paperbacks. Probably one paperback to every twenty ebooks. I save the paperbacks for holidays. When I have time (which is more than fifteen minutes in my world) I like to sit down and actually make the most of reading. Drives my wife mad that and when we go on holiday and an iPad is the perfect answer to me needing to take a dozen books with us, I still take a stack of paper books 😉

  2. Since I’ve made my living since the early ’90s publishing books, I’ve been following the e-book vs. physical book arguments and trends rather keenly.

    At present, e-book sales growth has slowed significantly. In 2014, sales of physical books increased (for the first time in years) by 2.4%, while at the same time e-book sales appear to have stabilized at just over a quarter of book sales. In certain genres, notably science fiction, it’s much higher–over 50%–but, overall, e-book sales appear to have plateaued and only account for 27% the market. That figure might rise slowly over the coming years, but I wouldn’t bet on it until the e-book reading experience improves significantly.

    Why have e-book sales slowed? There are a number of reasons. One relatively minor one is that e-readers are no longer the latest gadget. The sales rush from early adopters has stopped and e-reader sales have slowed accordingly.

    More importantly, a huge number of people prefer physical books for tactile reasons: the feel of a book in their hands, the sound of a page turning, the texture of the paper, the relatively large cover art, even the very slight smell.

    Beyond that, readers comprehend and retain information better when they read physical books rather than e-books. This explains why college students prefer physical textbooks to e-textbooks by almost a 3-to-1 margin. It also largely explains why e-books are so popular in certain genres, such as sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery, where comprehension and retention is less important than when reading nonfiction, and where convenience is more important, as is price–genre readers tend to be voracious readers.

    For myself, I very much prefer physical books for the reasons I mentioned above.

    • Wow. Those are some neat statistics. I had no idea that e-book sales had plateaued recently, or the increased reading comprehension and information retention when using print books, or which genres sell the most e-books. Though I chuckled at that bit, since fantasy’s my favorite genre, and I don’t do e-books at all. *lol*

    • Thank you for the information! It certainly helps to inform the debate – and bears out my personal experience. I am quite happy to read a novel on my e-reader, but far prefer a print book when it comes to poetry or non-fiction.

  3. Like seesharppress, I also prefer print books over e-books. (I don’t even own an e-reader.) Sure, an e-reader is convenient and takes up a lot less shelf space that books do… But I love having bookshelves, turning physical pages, and ouching covers with my hands and fingers. Plus, after spending several hours in front of a computer for work or novel-writing, I like to have a break from computer-ish screens.

    • Hi Sara, The point about the screen is a good one – but I am impressed with the Kindle screen and one of the BIG pluses is that when my eyes are tired or I’m reading late at night, the fact that I can increase the font size by the press of a button. And sadly – we are running out of shelf space!

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