10 Reasons Why Paper Books are Better Than E-Books

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Before I start, let me say that I fully acknowledge and appreciate the convenience and portability that e-books offer.  They greatly facilitate the ability to read anywhere, anytime, since almost everyone nowadays has e-book capability on their smart phones.  Yet even though I have occasionally taken advantage of the nifty invention called e-books, I have both feet firmly planted in the “paper-and-ink-books-are-superior-to-e-books” camp.  Here are ten reasons why (in a random order of importance):

1.  Paper books age with you.  No matter how many times you read a book on your Kindle or iPhone, it will always be exactly the same – new, perfect, ageless.  You could read an e-book a thousand times and it would never age.  Paper books, on the other hand, gain character the more you read them.  The spine on my hardback copy of The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson, for example, is starting to wear off in the exact places where my thumb and fingers rest.  It always gives me a thrill when I see my books start to age gracefully – it adds a richness to the reading experience that no e-book (no matter how advanced) will be able to match.

2.  Paper books allow you to create a personal library.  For hundreds of years, a person’s private book collection was a clear sign of their level of education, their thirst for knowledge and evidence of a well-rounded mind.  My book collection (somewhere between 300 and 400 volumes right now) is by far my most prized possession.  It keeps on growing as I slowly collect more and more stories.  Who knows how large my personal library will be by the time I die?  While a person may collect a formidable number of titles on their Kindle or iPhone, only paper books allow the reader to truly create their own private library.

3.  Paper books can’t be deleted.  Granted, paper books can be burned, sodden, lost, broken, cut or trampled upon.  (So can a Kindle for that matter…)  Yet the one way that a paper book can never be destroyed is through accidental deletion.  I have never spent a dime on an e-book for fear that the download would fail, my iPod would malfunction, my computer wouldn’t accept the file, etc.  Although the argument could me made that a personal library could be destroyed in a house fire while a collection of e-books would not, just ask yourself which is more statistically likely: a house fire or an electronic device malfunction?

4.  Paper books create an atmosphere of their own.  While almost all e-books are exactly alike, the variety in physical books is endless!  The feel of the paper, the smell of ink, the texture of the cover: all add up to create a unique textural and sensory experience as well as an imaginative/intellectual one.  For me, the story of The Lord of the Rings is indelibly related to the size, color, feel and smell of my massive hardback copies.  A good paper-and-ink book creates an atmosphere of its own, wrapping the reader in delicious familiarity as they read.

5.  Paper books can become heirlooms.  Enough said.

6.  Paper books give a sense of progress and accomplishment as you read them.  Almost all e-books are equipped with a little progress bar to let readers know how far along they are in the story.  Yet the little dots on the bottom of the screen simply cannot impart a sense of accomplishment and visible progress like a good old-fashioned bookmark marching along the pages from cover to cover.

7.  The search for paper books can be a true treasure hunt.  For example, I searched high and low for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.  I knew that I could have bought a Kindle version for 99 cents online, but I was desperate for a paper copy.  I scoured every bookstore (online and real-life) that I could think of, yet no one carried the final installment of the Sherlock Holmes series.  Imagine my rapture when (during my very first day in London, England) I walked into 221 b Baker Street and found a hardback copy smiling at me from a little shelf!  I couldn’t stop smiling for hours.  I’ve experienced similar events over and over again in my lifetime as I wander through garage sales, book stores, give-away piles, thrift stores and gift shops in search of elusive stories and have found treasure after treasure to add to my bookshelves.

8.  Paper books feel like old friends.  Again, no more explanation needed.

9.  Paper books are often beautiful and unique.  No matter how colorful the digital cover is for an e-book, digital books just can’t hold a candle to physical books when it comes to beauty.

10.  Paper books have been around for thousands of years.  The e-book has been around for roughly 50.  While there is definitely a massively growing trend in favor of the e-book, I can’t help but think that paper books will be around for thousands of years to come.

 

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop now.  😉  What about you?  What is your opinion regarding e-books and paper-and-ink books?

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25 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Paper Books are Better Than E-Books

  1. Great list and wonderfully stated– I agree with every one of your points! My personal library is also a prized possession–it helps to make my house my home! I do have a kindle, but physical books are ALWAYS my first choice!

    • Thanks for the kind words! Like you, I absolutely love my personal library as well. Great point about books making a house a home! I love the Thomas Jefferson quote, “A room without books is like a life without purpose.” 😀

    • You’re totally right, Pastor Jeff, about the convenience of e-books. As much as I love paper-and-ink books, I have to hand it to e-books for their portability. Yet nothing beats holding a real book in your hands. 😉

  2. Victoria, I guess I am in the “both/and” camp! I cannot imagine having almost 800 more physical books in my house! That’s about how many ebooks I have. My bookcases are packed already & my house is not that big.
    On the other hand, I cannot imagine not having certain books to hold and smell & highlight and … Well, you know what I’m talking about. There is nothing like opening a new book, writtting my name on it, the day I purchased it ( or who gave it to me). Soooo, I like both!

    • Wow!! Mrs. Anna, I had no idea that you owned so many books (both digital and physical)! I’d really have to agree with you – 800 paper-and-ink books would be quite a formidable collection to add to your house. I would love to see your personal library some time!! Oh, I know – the smell and feel of a new book is sublime. Like you, I also love adding notes in the front of my book, to remind myself where it came from. 🙂

  3. Many of these are good reasons, but for me I think a big reason is that eBooks are harder, less pleasant to read. I think my attention spans worsens the greater screen time I have (even when I have finished for the time being with the electronics), and eBooks require screens (obviously, I know) and staring a screen just isn’t restful.

    • I totally agree! Reading on a screen is never fun. One time when I was sick (and didn’t want to touch any of my paper books with germ-y hands) I read a book on my iPod. It actually made me feel more sick and dizzy than before! 😀

  4. I agree completely. I have no desire to read books digitally…I don’t even like reading stuff online on a computer. Physical books will always be the best. (I especially agree with number 3. That’s what bugs me about purchasing anything digitally- how easily it can be lost.)

    • I’m the same way, Kristin, about reading things on the computer. Give me a paper copy any day! And speaking of books, I am still eagerly awaiting a video tour of your book collection. I’m absolutely enthralled with the little glimpses of your personal library that you’ve given on your blog. I’d love to see the whole collection someday!

  5. Great post, Victoria! I put my order in about a week ago and am now eagerly awaiting my hold-in-your-hands tangible copy of The Princess and the Prince… 😉

    Oh, and this is a side-note, but the Little Women picture you chose is one of my absolute favorites from our old hardback copy. Due to its well-loved condition, I actually picked up another paperback copy when I ran across it–just to have a back-up on hand. 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, Heidi, I’m so excited to hear that!! You’re the very first customer to buy my new book. 😀 My own copy of P&P came in today – I nearly danced with excitement!! I am looking forward (with some anxiety) to hear what you think. I hope I haven’t raised your expectations too high… 🙂 I love the Little Women illustration as well. Those old pen-and-ink illustrations are amazing.

  6. This is a great post on a somewhat controversial subject between big readers. I think you make a very solid, thought-provoking argument here. I’ve always thought the same, I don’t like this whole move towards a digital age in the first place, but I could never get my point across as well as you did here. This list really gives anyone, (Pro-Paper book or Pro-eBook), something to consider!

  7. Victoria, I totally agree with everything you stated. I love paper books!! I keep collecting books even though I don’t have room for them. 🙂 One point I might add is that with paper books, you can highlight and make notes of passages you like. You can’t do that with e-books.

  8. I’m in love with this post! You’ve said everything beautifully as to why I’ll always prefer books over e-books. Would you mind if I reblogged it? 🙂

  9. 11. You can read paper books in the bath.

    12. Nobody can keep track of what you read how often.

    Nevertheless, I am currently going through the process of selling a lot of old books (of the kind I have rarely read in the last ten years) and making the change to the kindle. A few hundred books are simply too much to own. When I am done, I am hopefully down to only 300 or so. Btw: You kindle library is not only on your kindle, but also at the Amazon cloud. Meaning, it is really difficult to loose you personal library, because for that your Kindle, the Amazon server and whatever Amazon uses for backup (they certainly have a back-up server) has to go down at the same time for that to happen.

    In the end, it comes down to space. I simply have no room for more books. But I have a lot of room left on my kindle. Never mind that the kindle also has a small browser, just good enough to allow me to download my favourite fanfictions from AO3. I am no longer limited to what the publishers consider “readworthy”, but can pick up every text I want.

    In the end, I think both has it’s place. Picture books certainly don’t belong on a kindle. But reference books are way easier to handle in digital form.

  10. The thing I miss most while reading an e-book is being able to see the thickness of the book I’m reading, and how much farther I have to go. Reading a long book is far more satisfying on paper than e-book.

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