Hello, sweet peas!
I have decided to put physical books and ebooks in a ring together and let them battle it out. Not really like I did in this post where I just went completely overboard and nowadays have no idea what I have been thinking.
Anyway, I think it’s time to put physical and ebooks in different corners and just list all the pros and cons that will come to mind. I have to say that nowadays I do prefer ebooks because they are just more convenient for reading during the day when I’m out and about at work. But I’m still trying to make this list as unbiased as possible, I promise!
🦊 An unforgettable piece of reading that takes a spot on your shelf. With the emphasis on “on the shelf”. I think physical copies are the embodiment of the book and the reading itself. What comes to mind when I say book? Mostly a shelf full of books, not even specific ones but books in their pureness of carton and leather and paper and linen and glue and ink.
🦊New/old/favourite book smell. I’d rather stick my nose between the pages of a physical book than sniff my eReader, please and thank you.
🦊 Aestetics. There is that saying that a room without books is like a body without soul. A shelf full of books in a room is pleasing to the eye and good for the soul. It makes a room calmer and more lived in, in my opinion.
🦊 More feel. In general, physical books are great if the sensation of holding one is important to you. I love running my fingers over bookspines and pages, especially when a book has frayed edges. I also like it when books have any kind of special something on the cover that makes the haptic of it all more exciting like rough, sandy patches or smooth, glossy lines. Aaaah. 😍
🦊 Every copy is unique. While a book might be a book might be a book, I still think that every single copy of the same book is unique. It slowly takes some parts of its owner and sometimes serves at a memory keeper, if you are a reader that annotates or not. Some of my books have chocolate stains on the pages with my favourite parts or I used to press flowers between the pages of my favourite books. My brother’s copy of Lord of the Rings are a bit waterdamaged and have bitemarks from the adventures he took it on. So has every hardcopy a little story to tell besides the one that’s printed.
🦊 Takes a lot of shelf space. While it’s great that they are nice and snug on the shelf, it also true that they are taking up a lot of space. Space that’s often not really there to “waste” and that needs to be carfully calculated. Unfortunatly, a regular hardcopy already takes so much space than an ebook which makes a great argument for ebooks and against hardcopies.
🦊 Weight. As a person who never leaves her home without a book in her bag, let me tell you, books are heavy. Maybe you don’t notice it when you start out lugging one with you. Maybe you don’t notice it in the first hour or even the first several hour. But soon the additional weight will dig into your shoulder and hold you back bit by bit.
And it’s not only the weight of it when you carry them around, it’s also the strain on your wrists when you hold them while reading.
🦊 Cost. One of the most convincing arguments against physical books nowadays, I think. Physical books – especially hardcopies – are quite expensive. Around here a hardcopy costs about €20,60. That’s a lot of cash for one book. Especially, when you could buy the ebook for around €10,-. Of course it depends on what book we are talking about and what publisher has released it. But mostly, the ebook version of a book is half the price. Or even less. (I know libraries exists but like in my case where the library in our town is rather rubbish and does rarely ever have any books I want to read, it’s not always an option.)
🦊 Not really portable. I mean, everything is portable if you try hard enough. But even though my bag is rather spacious, I still struggle to take that 800 page whopper I wanted to read with me all the time. It’s a con that I usually try to suffer through but honestly, I prefer easier ways to keep my books with me.
🦊 Don’t take any shelf space. Even though my flat would technically be big enough, I am struggling to accomodate all my physical books. It’s no problem with my ebooks. I have a lot of them but I have yet to run out of space on my eReader and have yet to hear from anyone who ever ran out of space on theirs.
🦊 Portable. Big thing for me as well! I get to work by train and obviously I use these 30 minutes one way to read! With my eReader in my pocket or even just a reading app on my phone that’s pretty much always with me, I always have something to read when I have some waiting time.
🦊 Cheaper. Honestly, that one is big for me. I have already mentioned that physical books can be quite expensive and the library might not always be an option. I have however found other ways of getting my hands on ebooks, like via Scribd or even the Kindledeals each month and it’s infernally better for my wallet than buying all those books in physical form.
🦊 No worries about losing your page. Bookmarks are a big thing. No doubt about it. And you can use anything you want, from an actual bookmark to an old receipt to a pressed leaf to a shoelace, whatever floats your boat. (You can also dogear your physical book if you are one of those.) But how often have I lost my page when I put a book down for a second? It’s panic inducing and frustrating sometimes. That does not happen to you with an ebook, please and thank you.
🦊 Some books only available as ebooks. This could also be a con, not gonna lie. It’s like you have to be in some secret club to read some of the shortstories that come with your current favourite series. As an avid ereader I’m happy to read every tidbit of my favourite stories I can get my hands on. But I also understand that it’s annoying for people who don’t like ebooks.
🦊 EArcs. EArcs are great. If you want to be part of a blogtour, are part of Netgalley or Edelweiss or even have the guts to address the publisher itself – there is nothing greater than an early copy of a book you really want to read. And while you might not live in a country where there are physical Arcs are available for you, a eArc still goes all the way.
🦊 Easy to overlook. I have noticed that this can be a problem. Sometimes I have no idea what books I have in my ebook-library. Have I bought this or did I borrow it somewhere already? I tend to have a way better overview over my physical books than over my ebooks and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
🦊 Bad for social media. Or let’s say Instagram. Of course you can make it work but taking a picture of a paperback or a hardcopy is so much more easy than the whole song and dance you have to go through to present an ebook properly on your bookstagram.
🦊 Runs out of battery. That would obvioulsy never happen to you with a physical book. They don’t need batteries. And is there anything sadder than running out of battery on you eReader (and your phone for good measure) at the end of the day when all you want to do is relax with a good book while you train or bus carries you homeward?
🦊 No selling if you don’t like it. If you have a physical book you don’t like or otherwise decide that you don’t want to keep anymore, there is always the option that you sell them used or donate them. That’s not an option for ebooks you have bought and are no longer interested in.
Look, I said I would try to be unbiased, not unpersonal. Many of these points are very subjective but on the other hand, it gives us much more opportunity to discuss this topic!
What about you? Are you Team Physical Book or Team Ebook? Can you think of my Pros or Cons for each camp? Do you agree with my list?
Boring answer, but I love both. Studying English Literature at university got me into e-readers, simply because lugging around 4/5 books at a time wasn’t feasible.
Do I prefer a paperback? Perhaps. But there isn’t too much in it.
I totally get where you come from with your answer. Not everything is complicated. If I hadn’t written a post about pros and cons of both and somebody had asked me what I prefer and why, I would have also said just because. 🙂
I like both, too! Though lately a LOT more of my reading has been done on ebooks than paper books. (Like, 60% or more of my 2021 reads have been ebooks.)
Two more pros for paper books to add to your list:
1. I can loan physical books to friends and family a lot more easily than I can loan ebooks.
2. Physical books can get autographed by the author!
And one more pro for ebooks:
1. It’s much easier to keep track of favorite quotes in ebooks.
First of all, thank you so much for your comment, Nicole! Also, YES! I totally forgot about loaning physical books to others, especially for my mum who loves raiding my bookshelf! I’m not big on conventions and fairs but I get the appeal of signed books. 🙂
Also, yes. Book quotes. I’m not too happy about writing or underlining anything in physical books and am also not really a fan of writing stuff on post its and sticking them into books but it’s so easy with ebooks. You are so right. Thank you! <3
You’re welcome! And I’m glad it’s not just me who isn’t a fan of writing in my books. I don’t think I’ve done that at all since high school.
I love this post! I have to admit that the new book smell was never a thing for me, because I have such a low sense of smell. xD But I do like the aesthetic of owning books physically. I constantly have to remind myself that that’s not really the point of the book.
The cheapness and the portability are the two things that really make me love ebooks over physical books these days. Especially portability. I’m almost never in a position to take out a physical book and read it, but I can always find time to whip out my phone or Kindle for a few minutes of quick reading between things. I do wish donating ebooks was a thing, though, and I’m kind of sad that it’s not. Would make library collections so much better.
Thank you so much, Sammie!
I have a rather good sense of smell which is why book smell is important to me. I love sticking my nose into it. 🙂 And I totally get the love of physical books and the owning. Books just bring a room together. You need them so it doesn’t look so soulless. (I have books in everyroom besides the bathroom and the toilet, but I’m considering putting some up there as well. Still have to decide which ones though…)
One of the reasons that I love ebooks is, that I can read them on my desktop at work. Not only is it terribly convenient, it also comes with the thrill of reading when you are not supposed to – the small rebel inside me lives for those moments. XD Also, donating ebooks would be grand. I would not feel bad about buying some that I might never read.
Yes, that’s right. All these books cover up my lack of a soul. I mean … ummm … ooh, pretty cover?
That’s what my coworker does when it’s slow haha. I tend to blog at work when it gets slow, but reading is also really nice. xD
You make some really good points here! I used to be team physical book all the way, but in recent years I’ve been reading more ebooks, and buying physical books more carefully to counter some of those cons like cost and shelf space (not to mention unhauling) so I guess I’m just really in the middle here. Ideally, if the cost wasn’t a factor, or if I lived in the US where libraries have a large variety of books I actually want to read – I’d say physical books all the way.
Yeah, I wish my library wasn’t so rubbish. It used to be quite good when I was a kid but recently they have merged it with the local college and now the focus is pretty much on non-fiction and highly specialized books… I would love to actually visit an American library to take a look how they build it up with the current books…
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